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Shayne Oliver Is Revitalizing America’s Avant Garde


Shayne Oliver Is Revitalizing America’s Avant Garde

Shayne Oliver, probably the only avant-garde designer in mainstream American fashion history, is something like a comeback king. He first put his label Hood By Air—which he ran with a collective that included filmmaker Leila Weinraub and designer Raul Lopez—on hold in 2017, and said it would relaunch on a few occasions since then. There was a short-term partnership with Helmut Lang in 2017, an interview with Kanye West that teased a “rumored” combeack in early 2019, and then a highly structured new organization announced in the summer of 2020. But the first three days of fashion week in New York fully cement his return. Thursday through Saturday at The Shed in Hudson Yards, Oliver, under the aegis of his collective Anonymous Club, is staging a multi-part fashion and performance event called Headlessness, including a show on Friday where he will debut his new fashion line, Shayne Oliver. “The idea is that every night breaks down the throughline of the Anonymous Club conversation,” he said over Zoom last weekend. “Within those three nights, I act as the costume designer.” Anonymous Club, which Oliver launched in July 2020, is formally an incubator for young designers to collaborate in the HBA universe and launch projects, but like much of Oliver’s work, it is also a sprawling, amorphous idea that fuses the interests, tastes, and characters of the designer’s scene.

Last spring when HBA launched the second iteration of its comeback, called Veteran, the reboot was less of a typical relaunch and more like the drawn-out performance of a comeback. This new three-night extravaganza takes the notion even further. “The point of this exercise and exhibition is to create that space for Anonymous Club to have set events where it doesn’t have to necessarily be defined by fashion or music or art,” Oliver said. “But you know when you hear ‘Anonymous Club Event,’ you’re gonna get a little bit of all of it.”

The animating existential question for really anyone under 40 today is how to create change. Do you reinvent things from within? Or do you ignore the system and do something totally your own?…

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