PHOTOS BY CHRISTOPHER GABELLO.
"It was more of a concept at first," Shayne Oliver says of his outrageously inventive clothing line Hood By Air, which began in 2006 with a set of droll graphic t-shirts. "The tees would say ‘HOOD.' They were something we'd rock around town, almost to be obnoxious. We'd be running around wearing heels with parts down the middle of our hair, but wearing these t-shirts that said ‘Hood,' just to mix it up. I'd sometimes get into altercations with people over [the shirts], but at least I knew there was power in something I made."
Since then, Oliver's commanding clothes have always told a story, whether its his cinematically themed, long-sleeved logo shirts or his 2012 Spring/Summer collection, which featured, among other things, a khaki-short blend with zipper-slits and a harness-suspender hybrid. "It was about taking finance to the gym, and being so serious about both," Oliver says of his most recent works. "That's what I like about formalwear: It has so much power, and resonates in the mind as ‘wealth.' I don't feel like [the correlation] is necessarily bad, but I try to translate these things in a new way." The designer's creative interests seem to lie primarily in redefinition—taking somewhat stagnant schemes in modern fashion and reinterpreting them, thereby constructing what the 23 year-old likes to call "a new classic." "I'm always trying to figure out how to translate something into a distorted version of itself, and blur the lines of what it actually is," says Oliver. "The street always knows what we want. We know what's next, and I think it's time to take it upon ourselves."
The designer's radical approach no doubt plays a large part in the various facets of his movement—Oliver is one-half of DJ/production team and all-around creative collective GHE20 G0TH1K, arguably a new classic in itself. But with all of Oliver's forward-thinking work comes those desperate to understand it, many of who categorize the clothes as "urban," a generalization the Minnesota native doesn't necessarily mind. "Things that I do are obviously not urban," Oliver says with a smile. "But it actually makes the people I want to wear it more comfortable with taking on these concepts."