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Shayne Oliver

Speaking to the head of NY streetwear label Hood By Air at its skatepark SS14 presentation

The Selfridges car park was remodeled into a skate park-come-roller rink for a staging of Hood by Air's S/S14 collection. Surrounded by a troop of skaters led by model Jimmy Q, they rolled out an exclusive collection. Ten looks, in collaboration with heritage knitwear brand Corgi, were shown to an esteemed guestlist. Hood by Air's Shayne Oliver was on hand to discuss how he infused British heritage into the clothing meant for when the sun goes down.

Dazed Digital: How did you decide to infuse British heritage into this collection?

Shayne Oliver: It came about from this British tradition and growing up with a traditional British company, and utilising things that we don’t have in the US – knitwear. We’re not so keen on knitwear, so I just thought it would be a great opportunity to use a company like Corgi as it's such a traditional store in the UK. Behind the collection, it’s kind of like beachbum wear for night time. It’s like if a surfer wants to be a club kid - it’s meant for cool nights on the beach. It’s just about what you would wear when the sun goes down.

DD: Is this your American take on knitwear?

Shayne Oliver: Yeah, the whole theme of it is how Americans use knitwear. It’s actually used in such a useful way in America. It’s considered to be this other collegiate or anti-collegiate feel. I was always into school girl, school boy uniforms, playing around with that and with the fetishism of these things. I think it was a cool way to break down the knit tradition and make it something subversive.

I feel like every time I do a show, I’m taking time to play – it’s like commerce as performance. I’m doing a performance art piece.

DD: As a streetwear label, did you try and include streetwear influences?

Shayne Oliver: Well, I’ve never tried to be a streetwear brand. I’ve just always made clothes that street people appreciate. I don’t have a line of t-shirts that people buy into, but it’s always been a concept brand. I don’t necessarily see – but I think that mostly has to do with my upbringing – anything that is incorporated that’s street. I think street is maybe the most modern sense of how fashion translates, and how people may be able to have the means and the ways of going about making technologically advanced products. But they don’t know how it’s implemented into the world, only the streets know how to do that.

DD: You’ve been championed by musicians and rap artists like A$AP Rocky. Is that a way for you to get the word out about your brand?

Shayne Oliver: Definitely. I think there was a moment where I started to do things, where the concept led into a stream of people and no one knew where it came from. I guess they reached out to me in order to embody it again, and that’s why there’s so many music people that appreciate it. I think it’s like a back and forth appreciation and I definitely feel like it’s about how the brand is seen in general.

DD: Is designing something you take seriously?

Shayne Oliver: I think that I am playing around. I see it as playing around with something new. It’s not unimportant to me, but it’s not like a life endeavour. I feel like every time I do a show, I’m taking time to play – it’s like commerce as performance. I’m doing a performance art piece. It’s commerce, retail and business as a performance. 

DD: Do you design these clothes for yourself?

Shayne Oliver: Oh yeah, for sure. I design for a feeling, but not just for me necessarily. I design pieces that I think are cool. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I don’t like to dress up anymore. I’m not necessarily the person that I used to be, I used to be infatuated with it and that’s how I learned to have my own sensibility. As far as practicing the art of dress: it’s more for the brand and the clothing in a certain way, for a certain aesthetic that my brand represents which is urban concept.