Public School Wins 2019 CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative 3.0

democratizing sustainability with streetwear blanks

By Caitlin Ruggero

Dao-Yi Chow + Maxwell Osborne, founders of Public School and winners of the 2019 CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative 3.0

Dao-Yi Chow + Maxwell Osborne, founders of Public School and winners of the 2019 CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative 3.0

Thursday night, June 27th, marked the culmination of the 2019 CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative—a program whose mission it is to inspire leadership, promote sustainable business practices and help start meaningful change within American fashion. The initiative provides education and mentorship as participants learn the ins and outs of the fashion supply chain and make informed decisions while examining environmental, social and financial impacts of the industry. The brand with the most innovative and impactful plan for a positive future in fashion was awarded the grand prize of $100,000. 

The winners of this year’s program were Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne of Public School, a NYC-story menswear label who launched “V-TO” - a sustainable basics line focused on making recycled cotton the standard in streetwear style. By supplying “blanks,” or plain t-shirts and hoodies made from recycled and organic cotton to streetwear labels, Chow and Osbourne hope to inspire their peers in the industry to take the next step towards sustainability. “We had to decide—do we want to do something that’s specific to our brand? Or something that can really impact the industry as a whole? We ultimately chose the latter,” Chow explained. “We created this blanks platform for sustainable, recycled cotton, and that was something we felt was important. All of our friends and everyone that we know who has brands had no go-to sustainable blanks program that they could use for their designs. So, we wanted to create something that would affect the entire industry and not just ourselves.” 

In addition, fellow participant Tracy Reese received a $5,000 social impact award for her new label, Hope for Flowers. Based in her native Detroit, Michigan, Hope for Flowers prioritizes sustainable materials, ethical production, and handwork. Other finalists in this year’s program included womenswear label  Jonathan Cohen, menswear label Abasi Rosborough, and swimwear/lingerie label ARAKS.

Photographs Courtesy of Angela Pham/