"American menswear is so often based on the classic and the preppy," Moore says. But Chow and Osborne "are opening a different door. They're saying you don't have to follow the usual rules. You can wear pants that are short, with a dropped crotch, and a T-shirt that's not tucked in. Their clothes are not for everyone. And they're fine with that."
Moore adds: "I'm not going to say they're not expensive. But the craftsmanship is there."
A point of pride for Public School: Their clothes have so far all been made at home. "It feels great," says Osborne, "just knowing it's made in New York." Chow notes, though, that the next collection will contain sweaters, for example, made in China. "The plan is to keep a big part of it here," he says. "That's a big part of our identity. But manufacturing 100 percent of your clothes here AND trying to become a bigger business just isn't a reality."
The two men first came across each other at the fashion house Sean John. Chow was VP of marketing and creative director; Osborne was an intern. "We hung out a lot," says Chow, noting that the two bonded over not just fashion, but art and especially music (Chow had previously been a journalist at the music magazines VIBE and Blaze).
The two debuted Public School in 2008 — what they now call Public School 1.0. Not satisfied, they rebooted the line in 2012.
For their promising rise since then, the designers cite the help they've gotten from all over the fashion world, including fellow designers like Prabal Gurung, who has mentored them and wears their clothes, too. They also note that among menswear designers, there's a camaraderie that isn't quite the same in the bigger world of womenswear. "It's more about support than competition," Chow says.
Womenswear may be much more competitive, but Chow and Osborne say they're ready — though they take pains to point out they're not abandoning menswear. To the contrary, their menswear collections will heavily influence their women's clothes in terms of fabric and shape.
The ultimate goal? "We want to be able to affect as many people as we can," Chow says. "We don't want to be a niche brand, a small label that only a handful of people know about."
Or, as Osborne puts it: "We want to flood the world with our vision."
"Wow," his partner comments. "That's poetic!"