September 10th, 2014
What does it mean to be a man in 2014? In an age where gender binary is a dated concept yet conventional norms still set the standard who gets to dictate what is and isn’t masculine? Those were the questions posed by Hood by Air’s spring showing, an intelligent and introspective dissertation on the masculine ego. Unlike most in fashion designer Shayne Oliver isn’t afraid to use his runway as a platform for a statement and the street smart looks that flitted down his runway were filled with subtle and overt ideas about gender, sexuality and race. You don’t feature logo covered shackles and bondage chokers on a runway without a nod to their complex connotations.
That said this was no somber, overly political downer – this was a lively and vibrant event show filled with the soulful melody of live singers and ebullient energy of an audience ready to be wowed. Oliver did not disappoint – with a confident vision and youthful insouciance he turned out look after sharp look. There was a wealth of denim, from shredded jeans fit for exhibitionists to head to toe acid washed looks that provided glimpses of sculpted torsos. Boyhood classics like Timberland boots and Nike Air Max were reimagined in HBA fashion, embellished with straps or glitter, and merged together into a compelling sneak-boot. Snoot? Beaker?
The fact that one has to search for new words to describe HBA speaks to Oliver’s imagination and unique perspective. In a business dominated by friends of friends and nepotism beneficiaries it takes new blood to shake the status quo. More than anything else that is what HBA is doing – with their vibrant shows, diverse cast, and general attitude Oliver and co are changing the game and for the better.