The Agender Agenda: Shayne Oliver
Part five of a series
Tearing down tired taboos and referencing nostalgic throwbacks to the naughties, neutrois, street style, moody fashion and murky aesthetic undercurrents, creatives like Kaimin, Christopher Shannon, Stéphane Ashpool, Shayne Oliver, Marcelo Burlon and boychild are setting the tone for unflinching individualism and a brazen disregard for gender expectations. This alpha crop of originators, amongst others, are rattling up the fashion world with their take on gender fluidity, andro-glam, the street, epicene beauty, and invigorating, liberating aesthetics—just think of Shayne Oliver’s indelible id explorations, or Rick Owens’ provocative pecker flaps, or boychild’s glitched-out, autoerotic ka-pows. These avant-guardians are embracing the art world’s post-modern, post-gender transgressive sensibility. Call it the new ‘Agender Agenda’—that is, fashion that celebrates crossover culture, sexual iconoclasm, radical openness and transpersonal progress. That means macho suits and machine gun boots for chicks, skirts, shift shirts, and plexiglass collars for dudes, and ontological-esthetic upheavals across-the-board—what the futurist Ray Kurzweil calls “a phase change in the consciousness of man.” It’s a cultural stirring that at once tethers and liberates gender identity and reveals the ambivalence and elasticity of social archetypes. It’s no wonder that trans trailblazers like Andreja Pejić, Hari Nef, Laverne Cox, and Caitlyn Jenner are fashion’s shit-hot avatars, ripping up the web, burning up pop-culture and breaking down gender binaries; and auteurs like Wu Tsang, Dia Dear and Junglepussy provide killer, campy cosmographies and trans-femme perspectives that enlighten and inform us all. Phhhhewww, post-modernism never felt so good—and the clothes look pretty fuckin’ cool, too! Here are a few of our fave disruptors and déconstructors, with quick-fire Q&A’s to follow. KA-BOOM!
HBA | Shayne Oliver is HBA’s head-honcho and newly minted CFDA member pushing pomo déconstruction to the max
Shayne Oliver is the bad boy whippersnapper behind NYC-based Hood By Air (HBA). He combines diverse genres, materials and social networks to produce striking fashion, stirring imagery and amped-up androgyny. Dominated by recurring motifs like identity politics, gender and pop-culture, HBA’s primal, tribal aesthetic is a shifting matrix of meaning: a fusion of experimental textiles, autoerotic performance art, dance and freaky, frenetic subversion. His rollicking ranges reek of transgression with references to seditious streetwear, grunge, goth, dark-handed couture and trans everything. Aggressiveness, élan, sensuality and the reclamation of identity are key themes in Shayne’s oeuvre, through which he ingeniously constructs an interface between the ‘post-gender’ discourse and pomo theories of fashion. Mixing eclecticism, pastiche, sexual interpretations, BDSM, ‘post-unisex’, fetishism and even ‘trans-humanist’ themes, Shayne ardently deconstructs the fashion system with a razor sharp wit. It’s little surprise that Rihanna, Drake, Andreja Pejic, Ciara, Kendrick Lamar, boychild and Kanye West are amongst HBA’s biggest patrons.
What is the HBA philosophy?
To resurrect ‘a new classic’ in modern fashion and to embrace all ages, races, genders, genres, tribes and misfits.
What is your overall design objective?
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. That applies to menswear, womenswear, gender, art, identity, accessories, music, etc.
How do you define the street?
‘The street’ means new concepts and novel motifs that have not yet crystalized in to society-wide institutions. Fashion- and art-wise, that means mashing-up dissimilar, incongruent things into an aesthetic hash, and pioneering new modes and mindsets.
What’s your creative process like?
I conceive of and design the bulk of it, but I do take creative input from my crew and we have a true team orientation when it comes to the fashion and production. It’s really a collaborative affair orchestrated by the HBA family: we’ve all taken HBA under our wing and made it a collective project that we all can expand upon, evolve with and grow.
What’s the most interesting thing about fashion, in your view, and how do you characterize your fundamental aesthetic?
Fashion? It’s like fetishizing the things we put on and do all the time: clothing, accessories, attitude, etc. The aesthetic basically comes from me being a queen around a bunch of downtown skater boys, ravers, DJs, cultists, creatives and freaks.