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Despite being founded only eight years ago, Public School has managed a quick and steady rise to the top of the menswear scene. It’s not uncommon for a buzzy brand to spike after a well-received collection, but the New York label has managed to stay in the spotlight and has consistently proved that their success is no accident. So how has the brand managed to grow without losing their cool factor?
Of course, the raw design talent of founders Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow is at the forefront of their success, but they’ve been extremely smart in saying “yes” to all the right opportunities. Over the past two years, Public School has welcomed collaborations and partnerships with a number of established brands and retailers: Nike, J. Crew, Oliver Peoples, Barneys New York, Mr. Porter—just to name a few. This has allowed the once-niche brand to bring their unique downtown aesthetic to a much larger audience, without having to spend money on traditional advertising or marketing. And the numbers have shown that the brand has been able to convert that widespread exposure into sales. The company is now a $4 million business with sales that have grown 30 percent annually in 2014 and 2015, according to an article published by The Wall Street Journal.
Public Scool has also been smart in how it leveraged the clout of their design awards. The brand won the 2013 CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear and then the 2014 CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award. These prestigious awards are great bragging rights, but designers Osborne and Chow didn’t stop there. The duo used the industry recognition to secure a number of new retail accounts, and by the end of 2014, the number of stores carrying the brand had risen from six to 30.
Another key takeaway is that the two designers seem to know their own strengths and weaknesses. Just this past January, the pair hired former Marc Jacobs executive Anthony Landereau as Public School’s new president. Landereau took over ownership of managing growth, strategy and operations, which allows for Osborne and Chow to focus more on the creative aspects of the label. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the duo remains as ambitious and focused as when they first started. “There’s always that idea of being one step away from success and one step away from failure,” Chow recently told Surface Magazine. Despite everything the label has achieved, both Chow and Osbourne are still working as hard as they did on day one.
It’s true that not all brands will have the same opportunities as Public School, but if there is key lessons to be learned, it’s to say “yes” to opportunity, know your limits and to never get too comfortable. If up-and-coming labels follow these three pillars, it appears that the sky is the limit.