Black Queer fashion history is yesterday, today and tomorrow. In celebration of Pride Month, every week in June we will spotlight the contributions of prolific Black queer fashion designers.
New York-based designer Shayne Oliver founded the brand Hood By Air back in 2006 (alongside a collective of peers like Raul Lopez of Luar) and has since been a cult-favorite designer. Oliver moved to New York from Trinidad and attended Harvey Milk High School, which was a safe school for LGBTQIA+ students and soon after briefly attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, only staying for one semester. Obviously that worked in Oliver’s favor because Hood By Air was born soon after. While working on his brand, he also worked on his DJing at a night club called GHE20G0TH1K. This somehow propelled his career even further. Nightlife can be quite the tool in fashion, often acting as a platform for networking. Hood By Air became synonymous with its genderless approach and inclusive world making, with Oliver’s collections featuring androgynous models wearing oversized silhouettes, deconstructed garments, and experimental materials. This disruptive approach to fashion earned him a loyal following and catapulted the brand to global recognition.
Hood By Air became a rising star amongst the New York nightlife scene, streetwear culture, and the art scene, and entertainment industry (garnering many high profile fans). Before the brand creating ready-to-wear pieces, the designs were originally made to perform in. From the mid-Aughts, Oliver had really built a true community that celebrated the up-and-comers and was ,and still is, sure to nurture them.
In 2017, Oliver decided to take a hiatus with Hood By Air to restructure the brand to be multi-functional and not just about clothing. While doing so he worked on a few different brands like Diesel, Longchamp, and Colmar, creating exclusive collections that shifted those brands for forever. Later that year, Oliver was tapped as the designer-in-residence at Helmut Lang, re-imagining some of the brand’s most iconic pieces, through his own lens. These brands understood that he had a vision that he needed to share with the world. The amount of talent that Oliver has is probably still untapped. It’s so important to know the influence that Oliver has, and continues to have on the collective fashion industry.
Just in 2022, Oliver announced the relaunch of Hood By Air and a creative studio program called Anonymous Club in 2020. The launch of the studio does exactly what he had done before in the mid-Aughts, which was to nurture and uplift the next generation of creatives. The Anonymous club works like a collective that incubates talent and their projects with each other. More collectives like this keep coming up like Heron Preston’s L.E.D. studio. So, you can see that Oliver has always been into his community and expanding that community as far and wide as possible. With all the newness going on with Hood By Air, it was our duty to to canonize all that he has done for Black queer designers, creatives, and artists alike.