Interviews
Dao-Yi Chow & Maxwell Osborne
Co-founders of Public School
Nicholas Hunt

The fashion industry has experienced a lot of ups and downs in recent years. What do you think about the current state of the industry and what do you see as the biggest issues facing the industry today? Specifically, what are your thoughts on the state of streetwear?

Maxwell: The industry as a whole is sort of interesting right now. The time we’re going through and the shift that’s happening feels new, that’s why everybody’s creating their own way of showing, planning when or where the show is, or what products to put out. It’s a very interesting and urgent time so that definitely is exciting. Now people are just open to doing what they want and do anything that works for their business and is exciting to their customers.

You debuted “Make America New York Again” hats earlier this year and 100% of proceeds went to the ACLU. Where do you think the intersection of politics and fashion lies, and specifically how does that inform your brand?

Dao-Yi: I think, we all, whether you’re a designer or you’re an athlete or whoever you are, have the social responsibility to speak out when things aren’t right or when you see imbalances or injustices. I think we all have that responsibility. So whether or not that’s political, it’s never been a question if you should be socially active or socially responsible. For a lot of people, politics now has entered into all facets of life that politics has never really entered into before. If you want to be political, so be it. It’s just being responsible.

Let’s talk collaborations for a bit, which have almost become an industry standard. This year we’ve seen PSNY Jordan, PSNY Fitbit, and a few other collaborations. How do you guys approach collaborations; how do you find them important to your brand DNA? Specifically, HBNY x Jordan, how did that come about?

Maxwell: It’s always a dream come true. Especially with the Jordan collection; that collaboration has a very personal touch to it. We grew up wearing Jordans so we are very humbled whenever we’re able to do a project with them. So that’s a very personal touch working with Jordan specifically. It’s always been great. And other collaborations like working with leaders in the industry like Moët for the latest bottle launch is always exciting. Taking their aesthetic and our aesthetic and really finding that middle ground is always very exciting.

Dao-Yi: I think the collaboration with Jordan was probably the most significant one. It’s a part of our history; that’s the brand that we grew up with and with that collaboration we tried to approach in a way that we’re creating something that is deep and down to the core but at the same time recognizing and honoring the heritage of that brand or house. Collaborations in general, especially for young and new designers, are an opportunity to be able to develop products in a way that you might not normally be able to develop them.

What has been your highlight of 2017? Maxwell: For me my personal highlight was probably the fashion week show working with Jordan, and everything coming in full circle which is from the runway to having a retail space where you are able to purchase products right there, right after the show. It’s one of those ideas that come about and actually gets really exciting when it does happen and it goes so smoothly… so that was probably my highlight of the year.

Dao-Yi: For me it’s really just that we made it to another year. We’re planning to work on some really great projects as well. We believe in the brand; we have a great team and we’re fortunate enough to work on some great projects as well. We have a debut of another collab at ComplexCon coming up which has been a year in the making. So we just feel very blessed to be able to create.

What are your short-term and long-term goals for your brand, and personally?

Dao-Yi: Short-term and long-term really figuring out a model that makes sense for our company which entails more direct-to-consumer models and pushing toward the detail. Phasing out retail in the traditional brick and mortar and being able to transact with our customers directly, in a newer way and a way we can control. These are the short-term and long-term goals.

 
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