Public School is the definitive product of two New York City natives and their go-getter spirits. In less than 10 years since its 2008 inception, founders Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne —who met while working at Sean John— catapulted their own menswear brand to immense popularity with a high-fashion-meets-streetwear approach to design, racking up multiple awards in the process.
While the style and wearability of the apparel made a name for itself, Public School truly claimed its stake as leaders in the fashion industry when it teamed up with Jordan Brand. After working on exclusive friends-and-family versions of the Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan X, and Carmelo Anthony's M10, the NYC-based brand expanded its horizon and launched the PSNY x Air Jordan XII to the public — a dark-grey luxe rendition that resonated with the purest of sneakerheads and menswear enthusiasts alike. The collab was the precursor to three more Air Jordan XIIs that embodied the brand’s hometown of New York City, as well as Paris and Milan.
After a small world tour with the XIIs, the Public School duo is back home for New York Fashion Week to debut their Spring/Summer 2018 collection and a brand new capsule in collaboration with Jordan Brand. Using the black sheep of the Air Jordan lineage, the XV, Public School re-imagined Tinker Hatfield’s original design in ways never seen before. The collection includes Air Jordan XVs for men in black suede, an olive woven material, and for the first time ever, an Air Jordan XV boot for women.
The successful runway show located in the heart of Chinatown was followed up with a nearby pop-up shop, where the footwear and apparel was available for purchase. There, Complex caught up with the PSNY founders, joined fellow Sean John alumnus and current Senior Director of Energy Projects at Jordan Brand Gemo Wong, to talk about the latest drop.
Check out out the latest episode of #LifeAtComplex for a closer look at the star-studded event, inside the pop-up shop, and interview.
How did Public School’s relationship with Jordan Brand first come about?
Gemo Wong: So I’ve known Dao-Yi for a while, we used to work together. As his brand Public School kind of progressed, it felt like the timing was right to do something especially in the apparel space. The partnership started with apparel first and then we kind of explored footwear
After doing your first footwear collaboration, did you know it would become an ongoing partnership?
GW: We just kind of did what we felt was right. It’s all about time, who we [Jordan] are as a brand and who they are as a brand.
What was the motivation behind using the Air Jordan XV for this collab?
Dao-Yi Chao: It’s starts with a conversation. The great thing about working with Gemo and his team is that, there isn’t a set schedule, there isn’t a set plan. We only work when we feel it’s right. When we a great idea, we take it to him and if he likes the idea, he’ll set things into motion. With the XVs specifically, Gemo’s always challenged us to work on shoes that sort of lie outside of the 1s, IIIs, IVs, Vs, VIs, XIs — the really popular ones that iterated a l lot and so we enjoy that challenge. Coming off working on the XII, changing that iconic shoe into something that was definitively Public School, was something that we wanted to carry over on the XVs. It’s a love it or hate it shoe.
He’s said that on record. Were there any challenges you faced while designing these Air Jordan XVs?
Maxwell Osborne: Not really. Maybe on the women’s side, trying to make the boot.
DC: That was another idea that was born just out of conversation. Like, “Yo, we wanna do it during Fashion Week during the show, but it’s a women’s show. It would be crazy if we turned the XV into a boot!”
It already is kind of chunky like a boot.
DC: Exactly. We wanted to accentuate the obvious things about the shoes. The fold back on the tongue I guess is what you would call it — all of those things we wanted to really build on top of, but make it feel like our own shoe. That’s the point of any good collaboration. You gotta add something to it. It’s already great in its own realm, but how do you add to it and make it something better?
The tongue of the sneakers feature a “WNL” logo. What does the “We Need Leaders” motto specifically mean to Public School as a brand?
MO: “We Need Leaders” for us, was really a call to action. It was for everybody to step up. Us, our team, everybody around the world, just to step up and be better. It also mean when no one’s looking. So, are you the same type of person when the lights turn off and you go home? Are you the same type of person you show face to when you step out of that? WNL mean a lot to us in terms of special leadership and people stepping up to the plate.
When you first released the first grey PSNY XIIs did you expect such a big reaction?
DC: I don’t know, I didn’t know what to expect.
GW: You always have your fingers crossed. You always go in wishing the best. We took a different approach to it, so we were hoping for a good response, especially in [Public School’s] space, the fashion space, it was good overall.
Did the response play a part in following up with the city series or was it already in the works?
GW: Again it all comes down to what we felt was right timing wise, what these guys are into, and making sure the brands are in tune, so as a evolution as the grey we felt like doing the City pack was a good addition.
DC: We say that thing and always felt it was almost boot-like, the way we molded it out, so we just sampled it in a wheat colorway because it felt like a boot. So from there, again, just from the conversation, they put it into work. We it came back we were like, “What if we flip three colors — the Wheat is so New York— what if we created a colorway for Paris and a colorway for Milan?” That’s how it goes, then we try it out. If it don’t feel right then we keep it moving, but if we’re onto something, I think it all clicks with us and we push it forward.
When that release happened launching the collection over multiple cities, it really changed the way retail works. Do you guys plan to do that again, say with this release?
GW: It all depends on the project, the time, how we feel when we all get together.
Gemo, can you explain your role as head of Energy Projects at Jordan Brand?
GW: I’m Senior Director of Energy Projects. That’s everything from what you see here — footwear, apparel, to anything limited and sought after within the brand.
How do you decide on which people to work with like KAWS, Drake, or Travis Scott? GW: It just all depends on where the brand is at. I don’t want to feel like we have to do collabs. I feel like we should let collabs enhance the brand, rather than we need them for the brand. It takes the pressure off. There is no, “Oh man, I gotta do a collab this month, next month.” As with this project, it’s just timing, where we are as a brand and if it feels right, then we do it.
Why is it important for Jordan Brand to focus on fashion and lifestyle versus just sports?
GW: We concentrate a lot on sports as well. It just so happens that we do some fashion stuff. You look at our portfolio, we still do a lot in the basketball space with athletes like Russ and all their signature shoes, but we also do stuff in the fashion space. Our brand means a lot to everyone, which could be a gift and a curse. As result, we just try to balance it out.
What was it like working with Diddy back during your time at Sean John?
MO: All three of us met at Sean John actually. How did it feel? It felt great! [Laughs] You got Puff’s son behind you.
DC: That brand, that moment in time sort of represented this idea of aspiration. Everything about Puff, even outside of fashion was you should aspire for something better. I think that really stuck with us. That idea of aspiration, doing something unexpected, but always presenting this idea of aspiration to do something better or to make something better. We all went different routes, but that definitely stuck with us.
Rich The Kid, one of the hottest up and coming rappers who is currently on tour with Future and has a new album on the way, recently took time to meet up with Joe La Puma at Stadium Goods in New York City for the latest episode of Complex's Sneaker Shopping.
In the episode, Rich talks about his love of skateboarding, how he's skated with Lil Wayne, and his favorite Nike SB Dunks. He also reveals that him and Off White designer Virgil Abloh have been working together on a skateboarding shoe. Rich goes on to discuss how he wanted a pair of Air Jordans when he was younger and couldn't afford them, so he decided to flip bikes in his neighborhood to get the money for the sneakers. He also talks about his relationship with teenage re-selling prodigy Benjamin Kickz, shooting a video in a Goyard store, all en route to spending over $6,600 (one of the highest totals on Sneaker Shopping on Jordans, Yeezys, and more).
19-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is the biggest sneakerhead in the tennis world, and he joined Joe La Puma before the U.S. Open for the latest episode of Complex's Sneaker Shopping at Stadium Goods in New York City to talk about getting his own Air Jordan collab and the sneakers he wears off the court.
In the episode, Federer talks about what it was like to work with legendary Nike and Air Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield and how he designed Federer's signature sneaker in an hour on his iPad. Federer also talks about getting his own version of the Air Jordan III and how he looked up to Michael Jordan when he was growing up. He goes on to say that Nike doesn't send him every sneaker that he wants, talks about wearing Supreme x Nike collaborations, and why he loves the Air Force 1. In the end, Federer spends over $5,100 on a mix of Nike and Jordan sneakers.
In case they haven't beaten you over the head with it enough by now, the Ball family is all about their brand. Big Baller Brand may be the most absurd name for a luxury brand you've ever heard in your life, but that has not stopped them from peddling sneakers and new gear at every possible juncture.
Their latest effort to corner the market is a push to market signature sneakers for LaMelo Ball, the high schooler who is just as famous for his terrible shot selection as he is scoring 90+ points in a single game. LaVar Ball has been defiant despite possible backlash from the NCAA, and rather than back down from selling the shoe, the Ball family threw a big party over the weekend to celebrate the release of LaMelo's first signature shoe.
But the shoe might not be the biggest headline from the weekend. Big brother Lonzo Ball showed up to the release party, and the part-time rapper decided to get behind the mic and assist in turning up the party. His performance was nothing special, but the song he participated in definitely is—it sounds like there is a Big Baller Brand theme song, because of fucking course there is.
A post shared by Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) on Sep 3, 2017 at 12:01pm PDT
If LaVar has any say on the matter, you'll be hearing the words, “Triple B's in this thang,” over and over again on a television and radio station near you. They may want to switch up the performers on this one if it's a route they want to pursue; Lonzo isn't the worst rapper in the world, but his stage presence is a little lacking here.
If the response on social media is any indication, the public would like the Big Baller Theme to die an early, fiery death.
I won't be the first or last person to say this, but let's hope Lonzo is putting in as much work preparing for the upcoming NBA season as he is at building his family's brand. If you're going to attack a hip-hop legend at the same time you're offering up this weak shit, maybe just keep it all to yourself.
Platinum-selling rap artist Meek Mill is one of the most authentic rappers in the industry and a true representative of Philadelphia culture, and he joined Joe La Puma at Stadium Goods in New York City to go Sneaker Shopping and talk about his roots and love for sneakers.
In the episode, Meek says that he and his friends used to look to Allen Iverson, and that meeting him later in his life was a dream come true. He also mentions that he's no longer locked into a sneaker deal, and explains how important it is to wear different footwear brands. Meek goes onto tell stories about wearing Jordans growing up, the shoes he likes to wear while riding dirt bikes, and how sneakers motivated him to pursue his rap career. In the end, he spends over $3,800 on Jordans, Supreme Nikes and Vans, and more.
Platinum-selling artist Lil Yachty is one of the most positive and stylish rappers in the game right now, and he met up with Joe La Puma at Flight Club in Los Angeles for the latest episode of Complex's Sneaker Shopping. In the episode, Yachty talks about the sneakers he wanted growing up and how Reebok offered him his own sneaker collaboration.
Yachty admits that he didn't have a lot of sneakers growing up, and his first pair of “cool” shoes ended up being a pair of fake Air Jordan VIIs. He also talks about how he didn't want the Nike Air More Uptempos until Supreme did a collaboration on them and confesses that he was a total hypebeast for the sneakers. During the shoot, Yachty talks about wanting the Nike Mags as a teenager and says he finally bought a pair for $14,000. He goes on to talk about Big Baller Brand, compares his collection to DJ Khaled's, and talks his Sprite commercial with LeBron James. In the end, he spends over $2,100 on Air Jordans and Nike SB Dunks.
Pop star RitaOra is an international sensation, and she's one of the biggest sneakerheads in the industry. Rita met up with Joe La Puma at Stadium Goods in New York City for the latest episode of Sneaker Shopping, and she talked about how deep her roots go in footwear, from working retail to landing her own major collaboration.
Growing up in London, Rita worked at international sneaker boutique Size?, and in the episode she talks about how her and her friends used to be the cool girls at the shop, blasting her music, and hooking her friends up with sneakers. Rita then goes on to talk about her love for Air Jordans from an early age, and how things came full circle for her when she landed her own sneaker deal with Adidas, something that resulted in over 15 different collections. In the end, she spends over $2,200 on a mix of new sneakers.
As pointed out by Nice Kicks, the sneakers were auctioned off earlier this week to an unidentified buyer for $30,400. The exclusives were gifted to Kobe during the 2002-2003 NBA season, when he was playing as a sneaker free agent. At the time, many people believed he was on his way to sign with Jordan Brand, but because he ultimately inked a deal with Nike, Kobe’s Air Jordan III PEs never received a wide release. Though they were expected to appear in a limited Air Jordan pack along with the PE VIIIs, fans are still holding their breath for that drop.
The sample “Home White” pair came in Kobe’s size 14 and included the production date of 11/26/2002 on the tongue tag. According to the listing, the sneakers had never been worn, but had typical signs of aging. You can check out the IIIs in the images above and below.