What Public School Learned from Eileen Fisher


A few weeks ago an invite to the launch of a new collaboration landed in my inbox. Public School x Eileen Fisher: Where street style meets zero waste. The mashup of cool kid designers, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, with the oracle to fashionable mall-shopping moms seemed unlikely, but ask the trio and they would balk at the suggestion.

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First, Fisher, Chow, and Osborne will tell you that the design and shapes they work with aren’t so far apart. “There is an overlap in our aesthetic and the shapes that we use,” Fisher notes. Second, both brands are dedicated to sustainable fashion and it’s that drive that brought the group together. Chow and Osborne genuinely geek out when asked about their admiration for Eileen Fisher’s environmentally-friendly brand that has been recycling customer’s old garments and repurposing the materials into new items or repairing and reselling as vintage since 2009. Third, well, Chow and Osborne (and the pieces they make for Public School) are cool. And in that Man Repller, downtown art school teacher kind of way, Eileen Fisher is also cool. In fact throughout our conversation Fisher, dressed in black pants, a black shirt, and a sweeping black coat that dangles down to her ankles, keeps using the word cool. To describe Public School, the collection, and how Public School adds a “cool” spin to sustainability. So if you think about it, it was only a matter of time until they found each other in these collaboration-heavy times of fashion.

Watch the video above to see the new best friends in action then read on for more latest must-have drop in NYC.

Tell us more about how the collaboration came to be?

Dao-Yi Chow: We saw Eileen speak in Copenhagen at The Sustainable Summit and we were immediately drawn to their story about how they have been collecting pieces back from their own collections, from their customers since 2009. Also the fact that they’ve collected over a million pieces was just such a compelling story. We just wanted to learn from her.

Maxwell Osborne: Sustainability is something that we’ve tried to implement in our brand and being a smaller brand we are always looking for ways to do some things and always learn. You always want to be a student and a teacher. We heard her speak, we spoke to her PR, they gave us a tour of the tiny factory and then it really just went from there. We really just went there to be students and learned so much and then got a collaboration out of that.

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What do you think the crossover is between Eileen Fisher fans and Public School fans? Who do you see wearing this collection?

Maxwell Osborne: I think anybody that just really, really wants to impact change and likes to wear good clothes.


Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

Max and Dao-Yi, do your moms wear Eileen Fisher?

Maxwell Osborne: My mother and a few friends do.

Dao-Yi Chow: My mom for sure. That’s funny because my parents are still in the same place that I grew up in and last weekend we went back to my old house because I still have a whole bunch of stuff at my mom’s house and going through her closet, she actually has a whole bunch of Eileen Fisher.

What’d you learn from each other through out this process?

Maxwell Osborne: There’s a lot on the creative side that we didn’t know about on designing. We can design, but we didn’t know designing within the parameters of sustainability so well.

Dao-Yi Chow: It wasn’t advice, but I think it was just sort of her generosity. Just opening up her factory and her team and then basically giving us a crash course in how they’ve been able to do this. She taught us not only to build a business around social consciousness, but really best practices we could implement ourselves. Nowadays, everyone is very much about their own brand, and what they’re doing and I think just her generosity and her willingness to be able to share everything that she’s learned along the way. It was super important and super inspirational to us.

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Eileen Fisher: This kind of work can be really cool.


Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

What are the steps we can take to make the fashion industry more sustainable?

Dao-Yi Chow: I think it all starts with the ideation. It’s the process of considering things that we really need and the pieces that we can actually pull from materials from things that have already been created. What do we really need? Do we need another pair of whatever? Do we need ten thousand pairs of pants?

Eileen Fisher: Start with what’s already there. That’s what was so inspiring about this program. That we take back all these clothes. We’ve got mountains of clothes that you can’t actually resell because they have some problems, but we remake and get creative with it. Watch what these guys do. It’s completely different than what I would do. I mean there is an overlap in our aesthetic and the shapes that we use. They are not so different, but the way they interpret it, that was really inspiring to me.

Eileen, you recently collaborated with Heron Preston and now you’re working with Public School. Is streetwear a newfound interest?

Eileen Fisher: I think they are finding us. I’m lost to tell you the truth, but I think it’s really cool that they are reaching out to us. These guys are great.

What’s your favorite item from the collection?

Eileen Fisher: The silk shirt because I almost feel like I could’ve designed it. And the red hats because it’s made from the belted bandages. It’s so incredible that it’s made from the little scraps of all the scraps. It’s just so cool.

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Maxwell Osborne: I have no favorite to be honest with you. I love them all.

Dao-Yi Chow: The jeans are my favorite because they took the longest to figure out but were the most rewarding to see come together.

Eileen Fisher: My daughter would like those.

See the complete collection below and shop the line exclusively at Eileen Fisher’s Brooklyn location.


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