What a difference a year makes. In only two seasons, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School have gone from winning the Swarovski Award for Menswear to being awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Menswear Designer of the Year. The brand beat out bona fide stars including Thom Browne and David Neville and Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone, proving that winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund was just the push they needed for their business. Chow and Osborne chatted with WWD after their win to talk about Rihanna’s tongue-wagging ensemble and future plans for the brand.
WWD: How late did you stay up after your win? Dao-Yi Chow: As we were recovering from last year’s Swarovski win, we were again caught off guard; we were so focused on being nominated and in the company of Rag & Bone and Thom Browne we didn’t think about “what if.” It caught us off guard and we were so surprised. Maxwell Osborne: I had Joe’s Pizza at 3:30 in the morning. That tells you I had a good night. D.Y.C.: Anytime you have Joe’s Pizza after a night, it’s a good night.
WWD: You beat some very established designers. D.Y.C.: It feels unbelievable and just again, being nominated alongside those guys and looking at their body of work makes us want to do better and work harder and hopefully one day we will be in their shoes and have the business they have with stores and retail, and everything that comes along with establishing a brand. They motivate to get us going.
WWD: Do you consider yourselves established after winning this award? M.O.: A bit, but now we feel more respected from everyone from the CFDA members to the overall industry itself with people wanting us to succeed and do well.
WWD: Why do you think you received the big award in a year’s time. What changed? D.Y.C.: Certainly a lot of hard work and having a great team and having great mentors who believe and support. There’s something happening culturally with fashion and that we somehow speak to and people can relate to. The timing of it is just good for us and all of those things combined can contribute to it. But who knows? We are just really blessed and fortunate to be in this situation. Now more than anything, the win confirms in our mind just to really run with it, not to fight the disbelief but seize the moment and the opportunity and work towards that bigger goal.
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