Public School: How the Duo Made It

Public School: How the Duo Made It

Public School — the multi-award winning, New York based fashion brand, not the education system came to our private school yesterday afternoon for day two of SCADStyle. After hearing a long list of Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne’s accomplishments, the founders of Public School NYC walked on stage followed by Men’s Fashion Director at WWD (who was arguably the most entertaining interviewer we have seen).

Taking a bit to warm up, we first heard a bit about how Osborne and Chow broke into the industry: Osborne working retail to get experience, while Chow’s pursued a path in the music industry to express his creativity.

After going through a few jobs, including Sony and Tommy Hilfiger, the design duo found themselves working together on the design team at Sean John. Chow jokingly commented about how Osborne wore a different tie in his back pocket everyday in the design studio, “Public School would not have started if Max didn’t wear ties.”

Maxwell Osborne, Dao-Yi Chow and Alex Badia at SCADStyle 2016.

Having a few laughs between Badia, the boys and the crowd, the conversation progressively got more comfortable.  

Chow admits on multiple occasions that going into their first collection neither of them had a plan. They did everything from packaging to marketing, all while still designing the brand. That type of hard work is inspiring for young students like us, because it proves that anyone can be successful with time and determination.

While neither Osborne or Chow were formally educated in a design school, they set up the brand by making use of their friends and connections around the city. They were a rather quiet duo, but their people skills and ability to learn have played a huge role in their success.

“Did you know you were starting a revolution?” asked Badia. Chow humbly responded saying, “Uh, no.” as Osborne shook his head.

Perhaps they had never thought about the fact that their designs at Public School was essentially one of the first to merge street fashion with high fashion. It’s their signature, striking that perfect convergence of highs and lows.

Chow offers advice to us emerging designers:

I’m never comfortable. Act that way and know that there’s all these steps. You have a voice that nobody else is saying.”

It’s apparent that the boys not only have ideas stemming from similar foundations, but also a lasting friendship.  Chow laughs and says, “I have a wife and two kids, and I’ve seen Maxwell more than anybody else in my entire life.”

As the conversation began to dim, Badia spiced it back up with rapid fire questions before ending the discussion. Chow joked with the crowd saying the duo was going to Waffle House afterwards and asking which one was best in Savannah. Of course our students responded, saying the one on Abercorn. We may not have learned what their order was at Waffle House, but we did learn a lot about what hard work and strong partnerships can do.

Photography by Jenny Watts