Ahead of his Pitti show, Shayne Oliver discusses the reasons behind shooting in a British wasteland
This week, Shayne Oliver makes his debut at Pitti Uomo 87 in Florence, the four day menswear strand of Pitti Immagine. Oliver is on board as a special guest, an invitation that the Hood By Air chief regards as an honour, a privilege that he's worked towards throughout his career.
"I’m super excited and I’m very grateful, this is something that I definitely wanted to do as a goal," says Oliver. "It's a crazy new experience and I'm also experimenting with this, so hopefully I enjoy it and come back as a seasoned designer."
Oliver doesn't want to leave people with just memories at Pitti, but something physical too, in the form of a photography book. Dazed creative director Christopher Simmonds presided over the project that removes HBA from its natural habitat, the street, and places the brand's identity somewhere desolate, forlorn and lost, on the outer limits of existence.
Simmonds and Oliver say that this photo-documented road trip through the British countryside and rural suburbia that is "so not HBA" represents a fresh chapter of the brand's story.
"The idea behind the collection is that it's much more rural and it has much more to do with strong individuals, people who are creating energy in really isolated rural spaces", says Oliver. "We looked at shepherds and men who are farm hands, kids that grow up on the farm but they have that angst in them that goes beyond just what they know, they have to feel this energy that there’s something more out there. That's what the energy behind this was about."
The photos taken by Colin Dodgson are wonderful; candid and realistic glimpses into experiences that feel at once otherworldly and also true to real life. Even the old 90s Toyota that's been picked feels evocative of a bygone joyriding-in-the-middle-of-nowhere era, a vehicle that you may have borrowed or stolen.
"That’s definitely what we thought of," says Oliver. "It was really fun too because the casting was really interesting and down to go wild with it. We were just like ‘we need to find some people who are like actually from here’ and we had to be like, ‘OK, we’re obviously not going to find inside an agency.’ Then we found those twins, that such a miracle. It just clicked you know. It’s good because it calls in both sides, you know the Americana thing and the culture of the UK, this euro-culture."
Close friend and collaborator Arca will be providing original material for the show that opens tonight in Florence. Oliver says that "he (Arca) is considering playing around with very Boys Club sort of things, because this particular collection is a lot about that. It’s about boys clicking, being in rural situations, so it’s music that’s based on that."