Hood By Air designer Shayne Oliver dedicated FUCCBOI, the short film accompanying his FW’14 line, to “all the FUCCBOIs who shred the status quo with aggression and lush energies.” Legendary already at age 26, Oliver has stuck to his agenda since HBA’s inception in 2006. Repping his world is Oliver’s work, and it’s created a culture of fandom. Stemming from the marginalization of subcultures during the explosion of bottle clubs in New York, Oliver and his friends started throwing GHE20GOTH1K parties to encourage the city’s disparate cliques to meld for one night. It was there that Oliver began conceptualizing his line, fostering relationships and developing looks by gaining inspiration from those he’d meet. In recent years the line has received attention from a wider audience through being tied to new style icons and associated with A$AP Rocky and Been Trill brands of cool. But his celebrity associations aren’t simple corporate collaborations, through knowledge of the history behind Oliver’s designs, they feel authentic. A$AP’s mob attend GHE20GOTH1K raves, and two members were in Oliver’s lookbook back in 2008.The perceived overnight success of the brand means that new fans may lack an awareness of his longstanding work, understanding the work on an entirely different level. FUCCBOI and HBA’s runway presentations help to educate these masses on the subversive essence of the brand, dispelling any assumptions that HBA is just another logo fad.
FUCCBOI subsumes the frantic, energetic history behind HBA and distills it into the elusive staccato of a 3 minute fashion film. Flash lit with strobe lights, figures twist and hair-flip through the frames of the film It’s a perfect mirror to the runway show, entitled Trans. One that quite obviously is not done justice via the Internet, but I watch them both, repeatedly, and obsessively from the glow of my laptop. The lights come down for the runway presentation, an eerie soundscape creeps in as models emerge in darkness. The clothes are developed, intimidating, sometimes haunting. The models move quickly down the runway, it feels like brushing past people in a warehouse party. If you think of HBA as Oliver’s way of introducing his culture to the world, maybe the nightclub reference is even more apt, keeping ball culture alive. The show closed with vogueing, after all.
The graphic sensibility that people identify with the HBA brand is developed further in FW’14. The visuals are characteristically strong, but HBA is now a recognizable tribe. The pieces look grounded in craft and depth of technique, embossed leather creates texture on the pieces like an old tattoo. Logo-driven T-shirts are topped with deconstructed outerwear in leather and suede. Multi-zips and stitch details mix fetish and sports elements. The coats with panels missing give a rough feel. Somehow the clothes seem very New York to me, a wild, creative, progressive New York that you have to carve out, a slice of the city that Oliver, Venus X and the rest of the GHE20GOTH1K crew have revived and are now getting serious attention for. There’s a bravery in dressing HBA, it may be outside a lot of people’s comfort zones, but probably moreso outside the constructs that make them feel like they can pull it off. With HBA’s progressive climb up the fashion ranks and the respect it is now being paid at NYFW, Oliver is removing much of the staunchness from fashion, and subverting classics on a bigger stage. There’s power in the clothes he makes, power for those who wear them to feel something, or maybe even find someone likeminded. Obviously themes of gender and sexuality come through in the aesthetic of the designs, the model castings, and thereby, the brand. The work is transgressive and it’s irrelevant if the models are slotted into gender binaries. Only that each is an individual. The casting is incredibly spot on, the models look comfortable and the atmosphere is like a party. And like any good party, the lights come up, the music dies, and my heart sinks—even through a laptop.
(All images via style.com)