The Public School boys made a crash landing—both literally and figuratively—at Cadillac’s Hudson Street headquarters last night to celebrate the opening of their Retail Lab store. “I feel really good,” said Dao-Yi Chow. “We’ve been planning this for about three months.” In addition to a hefty grant and mentorship from industry experts, the CFDA-backed initiative has provided Chow and Maxwell Osborne with a temporary, 800-square-foot retail space with which they can sell their wares and subsequently dip their toes into the world of brick and mortar. “I think we know who our customer is,” Chow added, “but to let them come in and touch and feel and observe, we’re giving them the opportunity to see everything in a curated way.”
In true Public School fashion, the designers decided to include an installation that hones in on their streetwear aesthetic: an actual vintage Cadillac crashing into the wall. The trunk is popped, and inside are the brand’s signature sweatshirts and hoodies, which are, of course, for sale. “We just kind of found this functioning car,” Chow said. “We shipped it, we stripped it, and we cut it in half.” Osborne added that the brand was excited that the CFDA and Cadillac were happy to oblige. “The whole idea is to take something of [Cadillac’s] and making it your own,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the New York-based label has collaborated with the luxury motor company. Two years ago, Cadillac flew Osborne and Chow to Dubai to showcase Public School’s Pre-Fall 2016 collection and celebrate the launch of Cadillac’s XT5 model, which is available this year. Additionally, Cadillac has been a major supporter of the fashion industry, having sponsored New York Fashion Week: Men’s since its inception. (Up until Fall 2014, Public School had solely designed menswear.) The CFDA has also had a hand in the brand’s success: In 2013, Public School won the CFDA/Swarovski Award for menswear, and was given a $300,000 contribution from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. “This is such a great platform,” Osborne said. “It’s cool to see everything come full circle.”
In attendance at the party was Timo Weiland’s Tim Weiland, who knows a thing or two about the Retail Lab initiative—his label was, after all, the first to be picked for it. “It was phenomenal,” he said. “It was definitely a real learning experience and we ended up experimenting with a lot of different things. The timeline was really tight but we made a lot of money. It was good.” Weiland had one piece of advice for the Public School designers: “Continue to do what you do best, which is create an experience. It’s what you’ve done already and that’s what people come back for.”
After three months, Public School will make way for the other hand-picked designers to set up shop at the Cadillac House (also included in the 2016/2017 term are Tanya Taylor, Pamela Love, and Prabal Gurung). Next month, the brand will make its much-hyped return to New York Fashion Week, showing its coed Fall 2017 collection on Sunday, February 12. Chow and Osborne remained mum on the details of the forthcoming collection, but did reveal that it will be a sign of the times. “It’s very much a reaction to what’s going on politically,” Chow said.