Public School at CFDA's Retail Lab.


Leave it to Public School to shake things up a bit.

The New York-based streetwear brand has been chosen as the third label in the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Retail Lab, a mentorship program that includes a physical store. But unlike their predecessors who opted for more-subdued designs, designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne created an installation that re-creates a Cadillac crashing into a wall inside the store at the Cadillac House at 330 Hudson Street.

The prior two designers who participated in the program were Timo Weiland and Cushnie et Ochs.

“We messed it up a bit,” Osborne said. “We ran a car through the wall to offset the prettiness of the showroom.”

And in keeping with the Public School aesthetic, the car’s trunk is halfway open and goods for sale are spilling out. “It’s like a street mentality,” Chow said. “You pop the trunk and that’s where you find the hot merchandise.”

Saying the installation was “a lot of fun” to create, the designers said the mix will change every week or so in order to draw repeat customers. In addition to men’s and women’s looks from the core Public School collection, the store will include “exclusive collaborative product” as well, but the designers declined to say what they would be. “We want to keep everybody on their toes.”

In the past, Chow and Osborne have collaborated with Nike and other hot brands and Chow revealed that they just finished designing a bottle for Moët & Chandon. “So we’ll be giving bottles out for Christmas.”

The Retail Lab marks the first true store for Public School. “We’ve had pop-ups but never anything like this,” Chow said. “We’re really looking forward to it. It will give us the opportunity to really see what our customers are buying.”

Could it be the precursor to a permanent store? “We’d love that,” Chow said. “It’s always been a plan and a dream.”

Ashley Sandall, director of strategic partnerships for the CFDA, said that while the past Retail Lab participants, who were selected through a competitive application process, were popular, “we don’t measure success by the sales they generate.” Instead, the program is designed to provide retail experience to designers.

“One of the great things is that we give designers the ability to customize the space,” she said. The Public School installation was intense and involved finding someone who had a vintage Cadillac and was willing to cut it in half for the installation. “It was really cool and is a real social media moment.”

The Public School store will stay open through March. Tanya Taylor, Pamela Love and Prabal Gurung will also use the space this year.

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