Olivia Flemming intimate interview with Shayne Oliver
Shayne Oliver’s unexpectedly idolized unisex street wear label began with simple T-shirts made for friends back in 2006. They simply read, HOOD. Six years later, with the help of heavyweight endorsers like A$AP Rocky and Venus-X, his designs have a cult following from the Lower East Side to the Bronx and back to Soho. His most famous: a long-sleeved crew neck for Hood By Air Classics inspired by Hollywood iconography. A$AP Rocky wore one that cheekily references Paramount Pictures’ logo, and suddenly he was being stocked in Opening Ceremony and written up in mainstream indie magazines around the world.
Shiny and reflective, its famous film credit mountain sits with CLASSIC written where the word Paramount should be. It’s effectively simple, and cleverly cute. But from a guy who popularized the term ’swaggot’ earlier this year, and whose blend of Nineties street wear is mixed with ready-to-wear bondage – jeans made to look like chaps, or shorts with a detachable skirt – ‘cute’ feels wrong.
Born in Minnesota, Oliver grew up in the Caribbean and moved to New York at age 11, where he has spent much of his time voguing from Brooklyn to the Bronx, while DJing sets at downtown’s Happy Ending. He says he designs for “more of a feeling” than anything else, but if he had to put it into words: “For a person being bred and built all the time”. And with the designer’s very first appearance at New York Fashion Week this September, where he staged his spring/summer 2013 collection as an interactive presentation to an overly eager audience, it looks as if he’s doing just that, himself.
-Do you have a secret talent? I'm a dancer/musician at heart.
-Favorite food that brings back childhood memories? Buss up shot, from Trinidad.
-Song that defines you?
I’ve never thought of one. I evolve with the music I discover.
-In your previous life you were? I’ve never really thought about that. Sometimes I embrace or restrict any intuitive energy that I currently have of a past life.
-The quality you most admire in a man/woman? Truthful confidence.
-Who was the first person to break your heart? My straight best friend from childhood. It’s an ongoing complex that has reared its head every once in a while through the years.
- Olivia Fleming