Last night, fashion darling and friend of The Pins, Public School, took home the men's portion of the U.S. Woolmark prize. The win gives PSNY $47,000 in prize money and adds another trophy the to the already enviable collection for designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, as it comes on the heels of being named the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year this past June, and winning both the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and CFDA Swarovski Award for emerging menswear talent in 2013.
With the win, Public School effectively becomes Titanic at the 1998 Oscars, swooping up essentially every award it has been nominated for. But as Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times points out, something feels a bit amiss with the victory. The Woolmark prize is meant to recognize and reward emerging brands, not ones like Public School that have already taken home one of the biggest awards in fashion.
Much like the lines determining "Best Drama" and “Best Comedy/Musical" at the Golden Globes, the lines between "rising" and "established" brands remain extremely blurry in the fashion industry. Should Public School's previous victories have made the brand ineligible for this type of competition? Tough to say. Chow and Osborne are not on the level of, say, inaugural winners Lagerfeld or Saint Laurent, or possibly even the Ovadia brothers and Todd Snyder (two other 2014 entrants), and yet they're bigger than Timo Weiland and Antonio Azzuolo, whom they also competed against.
Friedman also points out that Osborne and Chow's affability and personable reputations surely help their cause—in the juries where awards like these are decided, the reclusive headcases of fashion lore typically don't bring home the hardware. I can't even being to imagine what it's like for the CFDA personalities trying to decide who should win these types of things. Does Tim Blanks just bang a gavel, his word being scripture? Is Andre Leon Talley there in some capacity, even if he's not actually a judge? How many passive aggressive remarks are bandied about?
Politics aside, Chow and Osborne will look to continue their unstoppability trend when they come up against labels, brands and designers from other parts of the world come January at the Woolmark finals.