PUBLIC SCHOOL is a true New York story. Born and bred in NYC, designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow represent the convergence and restless energy of the city in which they live and breathe.
Having launched in 2008, and collecting a cult following along the way, PUBLIC SCHOOL is making waves in the fashion world, the latest being crowned as the winner of the inaugural International Woolmark Prize menswear competition.
Creating a lost world somewhere between prehistoric times and the post-apocalypse planted the seed for the fictional narrative on which PUBLIC SCHOOL based their winning IWP collection. Imagining that the only available resource in the world was Merino wool, Osborne and Chow stitched out the story about a lost tribe and their survival through their relationship and co-existence with wool.
With a design mantra ‘finding perfection in imperfection’ and presenting a fully fashioned capsule collection to fashion’s elite, this duo remains at the top of their class in terms of design and productivity.
Sourcing yarns from multiple Italian spinners using top-quality Australian Merino wool, the entire collection - carefully curated in just 10 weeks - was created from a mix of both hand and machine knitting. What PUBLIC SCHOOL presented was a capsule collection which mixes streetwear with sportswear, influenced by a contemporary, urban culture which is very much at home in NYC or any other street-based city.
“We employed many different techniques in creating this collection, such as needle punching and tubular knitting,” said PUBLIC SCHOOL after their win in London.
“We wanted to develop a fully fashioned knit collection, and creating fabrics from yarns was different to anything we have ever done. This process taught us that we really love knitwear!
“We played with boiling and felting the wool to the point where we could treat it as a woven (fabric). We played with knitting different tension and gauges together, as well as engineered tubular and intarsia pockets and panels.”
This sheer innovative use of Merino wool saw PUBLIC SCHOOL edge out a global field of emerging designers, including SISE (ASIA), STRATEAS.CARLUCCI (Australia), Asger Juel Larsen (Europe) and The Emperor 1688 (India & Middle East), highlighting the versatility of the fibre and taking it well into the 21st Century.
Gone are the days when wool was synonymous with a chunky sweater knitted by your grandma for winter. Merino wool – the finest of all wools, expertly produced in Australia by tens of thousands of woolgrowers proud of their rich heritage, spun into yarns and fabrics using age-old techniques and modern technologies – is by all means a modern, contemporary fibre. The International Woolmark Prize looks at how we can take Merino wool even further into the 21st Century, all while discovering modern masters of their craft.
Natural, renewable and biodegradable, Merino wool possesses inherent benefits with infinite potential. No other fibre, natural or man-made, can match all of its qualities. Soft, breathable, versatile – Merino wool is a high-performance fibre, and it is these attributes which PUBLIC SCHOOL focused on. Their grey and black leggings, drop-crotch jogging pants and hooded pullovers are an innovative extension of traditional sportswear, presenting multi-purpose, premium apparel.
“Merino wool has so many characteristics which lend itself to our active approach to the collection,” explained Osborne and Chow. “It naturally wicks moisture, retains heat, is very strong and durable and it’s easily cleanable.”
The collection will be available from August 2015 and stocked in the world’s greatest fashion stores, including Harvey Nichols in Britain, Italy's 10 Corso Como, Saks Fifth Avenue in the USA, Joyce in Hong Kong, Isetan Mitsukoshi in Japan and David Jones in Australia, as well as online at MATCHESFASHION.COM.
For PUBLIC SCHOOL, besides international glory of becoming the first menswear label to win the International Woolmark Prize, they hope the award provides the platform to further extend the knitwear side of the business.
“Besides the prestige, we wanted the opportunity to grow our knitwear business and this was an excellent way to really start developing the concept for PUBLIC SCHOOL knitwear through the use of Merino wool. Knitwear is an inherent part of the PUBLIC SCHOOL aesthetic, so this win allows us to continue to experiment and push the ideas of what can be done.”
Winner of the 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize menswear final
USA finalist prepares for 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize menswear final