We Catch-Up With New York-Based Designers After Their Win

Public School, consisting of New York-based designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, have beaten the other finalists in the running to take home the prestigious International Woolmark Prize, which comes with a substantial cash prize. Their winning collection will also now be sold in Harvey Nichols, online at MatchesFashion.com and in other stores around the world.

The ceremony saw five finalists showcase their designs, a collection of six Merino wool outfits, to a judging panel that included Paul Smith, writer Tim Blanks, GQ Editor-In-Chief Dylan Jones and street style Demigod Nick Wooster.

The Woolmark Prize has long been a driving force within the industry, with Dylan Jones announcing during the launch of this year’s award that “Woolmark can literally take a brand global overnight”. That is no exaggeration. The award (previously named the International Wool Secretariat (IWS) fashion design award) has previously supported the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent, who both won back in 1954 when they were complete unknowns. Their judges? Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain, no less.

We caught up with Public School to discuss their collection and what winning the award means to them…

Public School Interview

FashionBeans: What did you think of the other designers’ entries to the competition?

Public School: We were so curious to see the collections that the other designers had made as we were only allowed to see one look from each prior to the ceremony.

Both of us were thoroughly impressed with everyone’s designs and it is so amazing to be some of Woolmark’s first menswear finalists.

Has your collection been influenced by your personal style?

Our collection has very much been influenced by Public School’s way of dressing. We played with proportions and drew inspiration from high and low in the same way we wear clothes.

We imagined a world where only Merino wool existed, and then imagined how we would dress personally in that world.

Public School's Winning Collection - International Woolmark Prize for Menswear

How do you feel after winning?

Relieved. We have never created a mini-collection before. It was a lot of hard work but we are really thankful and surprised.

What can we expect to see from Public School in the not-so-distant future?

More knitwear. We said before entering, win or lose, we have to dive head-first into developing our knitwear. Winning gives us a jump-start and the confidence we need to go out and do knitwear in a big way.

As a designer, how do you find working with Merino wool?

It is great and very personal to what we do at Public School; there is always an active component, an idea of movement and evolving day wear into the evening. Merino does this so well, being both comfortable and functional.

Do you have any Merino style tips?

Be comfortable. Find pieces that are versatile, you can wear on a lot of occasions and things that you can wear as many different ways as possible.

The International Woolmark Award Ceremony took place in Somerset House on 9th January.

Public School Wins 2014/15 International Woolmark Prize