Keeping up With the Cool Kids: How Public School Is Staying on Top of its Class

Public School has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2008. Founded by two native New York City urbanites, the brand has ascended into the higher ranks of streetwear, defining what New York City/downtown style embodies. No longer needing an introduction, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne are products of New York’s public school system themselves, harnessing their first hand experience in the city to create these coveted pieces that have popped up on the backs of everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Mick Jagger. Its success has been recognized, having been awarded multiple distinctions such as the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award in 2013, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and the Woolmark Prize for menswear. But with the "high end streetwear" category becoming increasingly saturated, how has Public School stayed on top of the game?
Firstly, the brand is constantly reinventing itself and surprising its audience. A prime example would be its latest lookbook for Fall/Winter 2015, which breaks the mold for what ever preconceptions there may have been about the label. A stark juxtaposition from its streetwear reputation, the lookbook is set in a vintage office space. Stoic and drab, dull-faced models are clad in Public School’s standard color palette — black, white, neutrals. But the setting that belies the brand’s image is just another way Chow and Osborne try to keep things fresh. According to the designers, "we’re always trying to raise the bar for ourselves. We don’t sit around thinking about what other people think about, but there are some general expectations of what we can and should be doing so it’s nice to break those molds." This nonchalance is definitely admirable and translates into its offerings — resulting in pieces that are authentically Public School. When asked about the secret ingredient behind their success, the designers are, once again, nonchalant, saying "there’s no right and wrong, just stick to your own point of view and don’t waver from it."
The defiance against labeling and the constant urge to surprise has kept spectators guessing. For its 2016 spring/summer runway showing — at the inaugural NYFW:Men’s — Chow and Osborne decided to enlist a curious roster of multicultural models and influencers (such as Nick Wooster, Waris Ahluwalia and Luka Sabbat). While some designers try to ensure a collective of faceless models purely displaying the clothes, Public School had bigger things in mind. With little cohesiveness in its literal lineup, Chow and Maxwell wanted to show off "real people doing interesting things, breaking conventional molds and ideas." Furthermore, the disparate faces were an attempt at "highlight[ing] the idea of the Public School uniform and put it against a backdrop that helped to show how much closer we are to each other than the world gives credit." Its face-front embrace of the real world and attempt at keeping things fresh definitely helps Public School stay relevant.
Indebted to New York City’s unique and multicultural make up, Chow and Maxwell hail from different heritages and backgrounds resulting in a unique outlook for the brand. "We design for ourselves mostly. We’ve spent our entire lives here in NYC so it’s a culmination of everything we’ve learned growing up into adulthood." The music and sport (both are avid Knicks fans) references aren’t a guise, nor is anything else about the brand. Having grown up in the depths of the cultural mecca that is the Big Apple, Chow and Maxwell — for a lack of better words — can be identified with the phrase "downtown cool." Their innate outlook seamlessly translates into their creations.
A formula of surprise has worked in Public School’s favor, but its winning factor is something that other brands vying for the same level of success might lack — sheer authenticity. By designing for themselves — real products of New York and its public school system — Chow and Maxwell condense their combined experiences into a visceral brand, embodying the true nature of the city. Both designers have worked behind the scenes at some of New York’s most celebrated brands including P Diddy’s Sean Jean imprint in the early ’00s.  More recently, the duo’s NYC blood has given the ultimate stamp of authenticity with their recent appointment as creative directors of Donna Karan’s DKNY. The label has always aimed to translate the vigor and energy of the city to its consumers and has been a defining pillar in New York fashion. With the city at the epitome of streetwear, Public School are now the crown jewel.
Even at the forefront of the ever-cluttered fashion landscape, the brand shows no sign of slowing down. In a realm where labels are constantly collaborating with each other to gain greater exposure, one of the highest accolades worth calling home is undoubtedly a Nike/Jordan Brand collaboration. Public School have a few to its name already, with an Air Jordan 1, 10 and a Melo M11. Piquing much fanfare and interest, the designers have always tagged onto the flow of Air Jordan releases throughout the year, putting its own spin on whatever retro is in line for the season. When asked if there are any more coming, Chow’s eagerness to share quickly gets interjected by Osborne’s acumen to never let up. "Maybe" he mutters, "maybe."

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‘The Night Before’ Official Red Band Trailer

‘The Night Before’ follows three best friends who reunite to spend Christmas Eve together and relive the traditions they created years before. Issac’s wife gives him a supply of drugs so he can enjoy one last celebration with his friends, but she later regrets it when he is high and unable to control himself. The comedy was […]

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Nike Air Tech Challenge III “Radiant Emerald” Available Now

Andre Agassi’s reign in sneaker culture continued long after his days on the clay were done. Of course, much of the praise is slighted towards the Nike Air Tech Challenge II, and rightfully so. But the Air Tech Challenge III also plays a vital role in his signature line’s continued retro success. The key player […]

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Supreme’s Influence on British Street Style Explored in Short Film

The final episode of Ewen Spencer’s A History of British Street Style documentary series features an look at how New York’s streetwear stalwart Supreme has affected youth culture and street style in The UK. Check out the video above to get  a glimpse through the lens of the Newcastle-born photographer and filmmaker, as he uncovers a unique and very modern incarnation of the British subculture. Follow Ewen on Twitter or head to EwenSpencer.com to see more of his iconic work and check out i-D’s YouTube channel for more from the A History of British Street Style series.

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Philly Youth Poetry Movement Brings Home First Prize For The 2015 Brave New Voices Competition

Philadelphia has just brought home another big win! Last week, thousands of youth poets from around the globe, descended upon Atlanta, GA for the annual Brave New Voices Competition. For the ninth consecutive year, the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection was repped strong by a talented team of youth organized by Philly Youth Poetry Movement.

Well, we’re proud to announce that Philly Youth Poetry Movement, affectionately known as PYPM, was once again awarded the Brave New Voices first place prize amd is bringing home one of the coveted titles for the fourth time since 2006. We’re definitely Philly proud of this stellar team’s accomplishments!

The winning squad, comprised of nine of PYPM top poets, was formed through a series of slams competitions held at The Rotunda and other venues for area students. Each of the BNV2015 award-winning PYPM poets competed in a series of regionals and semi-finals and ultimately made it to the main stage of the Suzanne Roberts Theater in May to compete in the 2015 PYPM finals.

A heated, moving and entertaining competition, PYPM finals saw some of the city’s fiercest youth poets take the stage to battle it out, sharing powerful, often personal stories and messages through performance poetry.

Started in 2006 by Philly-based poet and arts advocated Gregory Corbin, Philly Youth Poetry Movement has literally impacted the lives of thousands of teens through its yearlong schedule spoken word programs. No stranger to the Brave New Voices competition, PYPM slam teams brought home the 3rd place title in 2006, first place in 2007 and 2011 and was featured in a Brave New Voices HBO special during the 2008 conference in Washington DC.

You can heard more from Corbin below, and be sure to check out the PYPM Youtube channel for performance recaps. 

Another monumental win for Philly Youth Poetry Movement and the entire city — join us as we celebrate the 2015 PYPM winning team with their signature pre-show chant; 

"PY! PM! Team black dashikis and war paint… Aahhh!"

You can learn more about Philly Youth Poetry Movement’s programs and upcoming events at pypmphilly.org.

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The Hundreds x Reebok Classic Ventilator “Zodiac” Pack

Reebok and The Hundreds reprise their relationship once again, coming together to execute two clever iterations of the Ventilator on the sneaker’s 25th anniversary. With a birthday in mind then, the two parties incorporated nods to the Brothers Hundreds’ respective zodiac signs, with Ben representing team Taurus and Bobby promoting the Aries sign. The Taurus shoe is a clean cut iteration that combines white with hues of orange, yellow and blue hits interspersed to represent laid-back California culture. Elsewhere, Bobby’s Aries release features a black base accented with burgundy and red tones. A yellow sockliner nods to the gold-winged ram that was sacrificed to become the Aries constellation. Both shoes are crafted with pig suede, full-grain leather, and breathable mesh to finish this well thought-out collection. Pick up the Ventilator "Zodiac" pack at The Hundreds stores and online beginning August 1.

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size? Reimagines the New Balance 1500

UK retailer size? is not only known for their vast and widely varied inventory, but also for uniquely crafting some of the best sneaker collaborations in recent memory. Working with just about every brand you can imagine, their latest effort involves a complete remake of the New Balance 1500. Forgoing conformity in collaboration, size? steers […]

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adidas Los Angeles “Dark Blue” Available Now

The adidas Los Angeles is having a great run this summer. Returning for the first time since its original release decades ago, a wealth of new color options have emerged with tonal greatness in spades. Among the darker and more imposing options is this “Dark Blue” edition. Utilizing sleek construction for a streamlined aesthetic, this […]

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Jordan Brand Celebrates Maya Moore with Air Jordan 1 Colorway

Following in line with her NBA brethren who have an Air Jordan 1 to their credit, Maya Moore is now a part of that very elite Jordan 1 Mount Rushmore. In celebration of her 30 point performance which garnered WNBA All-Star Games MVP honors, her favorite color inspires the general release of this new 1985 gem. […]

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