Written by: Bradley Johnson
Streetwear and hip-hop have always been two cultures that live and feed off each other. Born out of the skate culture, streetwear has continually grown and expanded, borrowing from a variety of different cultures to help influence it.
Editors Note: We acknowledge the strong dispostion of HBA founder Shayne Oliver as we perceive the articulation of his brand to be a genuine perspective on the new age of super post modern expression. Given the fact that A.S.A.P. Rocky's "Multiply" was in heavy in rotation for me in the ladder end of 2014 and the fact that I could be heard on multiple occasions quoting his blatant lyrical denouncement of HBA, I respect both perspectives of founding creation and the elevation of brand reputation through figureheads of the jetsetting lifestyle.
One of the most popular, and controversial brands to come out in the last decade is Hood By Air. Founded in 2006 in New York by Shayne Oliver, what started as a small t-shirt brand has slowly expanded into a colossal force in the fashion industry that has become almost synonymous with the fashion culture surrounding hip-hop at the present moment.
New York Magazine travelled to Florence, Italy to watch the brands first show at Pitti Uomo, an annual gathering of all of the top menswear brands and designers in the industry. What they saw was a uniquely inventive brand bend the rules and present a fashion show the likes of which have never been seen at Pitti Uomo. Founder Shayne Oliver describes the idea behind HBA as "youth excellence", something he envisions as maximizing his creativity now, as opposed to developing it over time. The brand manages to pull this off by creating clothes that appeal to a wide audience, including everything from heavily branded tees and jackets to crop tops and skirts.
The most appealing and unique aspect to Hood By Air is its failure to adhere to any of the rules of fashion. Defining the brand as streetwear would do it a grand disservice, as it covers much more than just your typical streetwear garb. Trying to label it as high fashion also wouldn't work since the brand breaks many of the established rules that high fashion commands. Instead what we're left with is a brand that wholly embodies the grey area. Whether it's masculine, feminine, streetwear or high fashion, Hood By Air continues to defy expectations and bend the rules with every release.