Fun fact and weird link: before being the toast of menswear today with his design partner Maxwell Osborne at Public School, Dao-Yi Chow wrote graffiti for years. He also wrote articles for long-gone hip-hop magazine The Flavor, which was run out of Seattle (Nordstrom’s headquarters) and included as a staff writer Strath Shepard, now a Nordstrom creative director.
In between the hundred or so interviews Chow did immediately after Public School’s S/S 16 show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, we asked him about his old life and about the social commentary in this Public School presentation.
Shop: Public School
Nordstrom blogs: When you wrote graffiti, I heard you were Scheme GNS and that GNS stood for “graffiti non-stop.” What did Scheme mean to you?
Dao-Yi Chow: Well, it wasn’t Scheme, because there was already a famous Skeme. It was Schemz [ed. note: rhymes with bends]. And I don’t even remember where that came from. It was just a stylish word.
What were you listening to when you were tagging a lot?
That was a big, big era. Everything from Nas to OC, everything east coast. I was a big hip-hop head.
People don’t know you’re a writer. You write on the Public School website.
Sometimes. I get my literary chops off.
And you used to write for The Flavor back in the day. What kind of stuff did you write?
Album reviews, features. I wrote probably fifteen, twenty articles? It was so long ago. But that was my first published writing.
I know people are asking you about the police lineups in your New York Fashion Week: Men’s show. And without forcing you to explain it, how about this: Do you think fashion can and should make meaningful social commentary?
Absolutely. Anyone can make social commentary. That’s the point of being social. You have a voice and you have a platform. You should use it. Whether anybody listens is a different story. Max and I talk about it. It’s important to us. I have two children and want to raise them with the right examples. For this collection, we wanted to put our presentation together of a classic Public School uniform set in this context. So you might expect to see something else. But we wanted to shake it up and break it up a bit.