Inez & Vinoodh
By the time the fashion industry finally caught up to Hood By Air, which Shayne Oliver and Rául Lopez co-founded in 2006, it had effectively disappeared. In April of 2017, Oliver announced that the groundbreaking label was going on a fashion hiatus—one that’s finally over, as of this week.
“Few understood the now vanguard's intent in its original conceit,” Oliver said in a statement on Monday, referencing how Hood By Air was almost too ahead of its time. “Twenty-twenty has provided a welcomed and timely opportunity to catch up.”
The “re-conceptualized” Hood By Air will launch an “event or activation” each year, setting the theme for the label’s designs. The theme will carry over to HBA, a direct-to-consumer platform that won’t stick to the traditional fashion calendar. From there, two additional components will bring the label back to its roots. Oliver is introducing ANONYMOUS CLUB, a platform supporting up-and-comers in fields like music and art. MUSEUM will house Hood By Air’s archives, which a designer-in-residence will occasionally rework. (It’s a position Oliver recently held himself, at the newly revived Helmut Lang.)
On Thursday, Hood By Air will offer the first glimpse at its future with the release of a limited-edition t-shirt, in partnership with the charity initiative Uprising. The label is also partnering with the payment service Cash App on a “Cash Card” designed by Oliver. “In coordination with HBA's own charitable effort to support Black, LGBTQ artists and communities, local police reform, and associated BLM causes,” the proceeds of both the card and shirt will be split and donated to three groups: the collective Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, the grassroots organization Gays & Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society, and the “people-powered movement” Emergency Release Fund.
“Even now, gentrification leaves no physical spaces for new, influential ideas to exist or reside. Hood By Air will be a place for these ideas to have a home,” Oliver said. “There is another world that still needs to be created. It's about tearing the old one down while figuring out a way to build a new one up, and in the midst of all of that, amplifying the ideas and conversations that we feel are important.”
The pandemic—not to mention the national uprising in support of the Black Lives Matter movement—has already gotten started on tearing that old world down. And if there’s any designer that could successfully navigate the murky territory of digital fashion presentations, it just might be Oliver. Even in “normal” times, Hood By Air shows never stuck to the traditional format or calendar. Look no further than its last show pre-hiatus, which took place inside of a hotel pool during Art Basel Miami Beach.