How Public School revolutionized street wear and sportswear

Thursday, 05 February 2015
Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow were two young men just like almost everyone else in New York City, just chasing a dream. The two young men were a product of New York City’s Public school system with dreams of becoming top fashion designers. It’s been seven years since the duo  started their label, Public School, aptly titled from the inspiration they drew from being a product of New York City’s Public School system. Lately the duo has been in the spotlight more than ever.

They just won the Woolmark Prize for menswear, which recognizes designers who use wool in their collections, and they became fashion’s biggest stars to watch last year after winning the Vogue/CFDA award. If you can garner the attention of iconic Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour then you must be doing something right. This season for their spring 2015 campaign, the duo enlisted models Amanda Murphy and Harry Curban to sport their casual, yet high fashion looks, as they did math problems on a clear chalkboard.

The campaign film, which was directed by Maria Gordillo, is already earning Public School more attention, and for two guys who have are making a name for themselves in luxury fashion it’s impressive that they are doing it all with just street wear. While Public School’s success came riding in on the tails of the normcore movement, they are not just giving their clients fashion, they are also giving them style, and in the immortal words of Coco Chanel, “fashion fades, only style remains the same.”

Public School transcends beyond being a trend based brand, it’s easy to say that they have changed the entire street wear game. While this might not have been their intention, street wear is now associated with luxury, whereas luxury was traditionally delegated to items such as men’s suiting, couture, designer purses, and leather shoes people are expecting luxury street wear now as well.

As early as a year ago the thought of someone paying 245 dollars for a jersey mesh tank or 250 dollars for a hounds tooth Crop-Top would have been considered absolutely ludicrous. You put that type of money towards trying to invest in real luxury goods: dresses, formal shirts, accessories, things that would really impress people that would last you a while and would always be part of your style. Ever since Public School’s success with CFDA, other designers have realized just how powerful a luxury sports wear and street wear market could be.

Just this past month at Milan Men’s Fashion Week Phillip Plein debuted his fall 2015 menswear collection, which included a 30,000 euro python skin jerseys. He wasn’t the only designer to bring luxury sportswear to men’s fashion week this year; Band of Outsider’s collection included everything this year from sweatshirts to a denim jumpsuit. The great thing about these collections is they transcend the realm of what was associated with normcore and are actually high fashion.

They have all the artistry and craftsmanship that go into making the more traditional luxury collections, but they are a more everyday aesthetic. Public School is not only making the power of the street wear aesthetic felt in the U.S., but globally as well. This year at London Men’s Fashion Week they debuted their fall 2015 menswear collection, which was met with adoration, and proved that they could stand to be a force in the global market, especially London.

Public School has become one of the first brands to receive global accolades for street wear, helping to propel street wear to the forefront of the fashion luxury circle. For years luxury street wear has long been part of a more underground culture of the fashion crowd, with no one ever giving it a chance on the runways or any real news coverage. With the success of Public School, the American market and fashion designers have begun capitalizing on a whole new realm of the luxury goods market.

While the mass obsession with luxury street wear and sportswear might fade, it is clear that there will always be a demand for it, so retailers and designers can count on at least having a niche market. Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow probably never imagined that they would be the ones to open the flood gates for the luxury street wear and sportswear market to gain such mass appeal, but things sure have taken a turn for the best for the two men from New York City’s public school system. They have transformed the luxury market to give street and sports wear a real home.

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