Questions for Fashion's Public School

Christina Parrella

Combining the aggressive sophistication of Alexander Wang and the avant-garde aesthetics of Rick Owens, New York City–based designers Public School have managed to quickly win over fashion's jaded in-crowd. In 2008, designer duo Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne formed their menswear label Public School—a nod to New York City's education system, which they both attended—and two years later were among the inaugural group of designers to join the Council of Fashion Designers of America's incubator program. Last year alone Chow and Osborne won a slew of honors, including the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. Now the brand, which operates out of a studio in the Garment District, can count a collaboration with J. Crew and a crossover into womenswear as part of their 2014 plans. The designers spoke to about their inspiration, future plans and their first-ever runway show.

Between the Swarovski Menswear Award and taking home CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund's grand prize, 2013 was quite a year. How rewarding are such accolades and what does this mean for the brand in 2014? Public School: It’s rewarding to be recognized by your peers and industry, but we just want to do great work and positively affect as many people as possible. The great thing is that most of the results from winning don't take effect until 2014, like our J. Crew collab and yearlong mentorship, so it’s just the beginning!

Your Fall/Winter '13 collection pushed the envelope stylistically, blending refined and wearable fabrics. What was your inspiration for this season? PS: Looking into a new modernity. Flipping conventionality on its head and presenting something that makes you look at the traditional with a new eye.

When you're designing, who are you designing for? What, if anything, defines your customer? PS: Selfish as it might be, we're mostly [designing for] ourselves.

As New York–based designers, was making your clothing in the Garment District a natural choice? PS: It was a dream come true. The City has given us so much; it's great to give back.

What are some of your favorite spots in the City? PS: Too many to name!