It was clear from the beginning what Shayne Oliver was trying to convey with Hood By Air, a brand he founded in 2006 with Raul Lopez that was originally named Elite Urban Brigade. At one of their first fashion shows, which took place at New York Fashion Week in 2007, Mobolaji Dawodu, The Fader’s former style editor-at-large, asked Oliver where he saw Hood By Air going. Oliver, then 18, who looks cherubic in the grainy clip, said he wanted to create a lifestyle brand for the new generation that appreciates what’s going on in the streets, but understands urban culture influences the mainstream.

In that moment, Oliver prophesized the impact his brand would have on an industry that spent years looking to Black communities for cues, but rarely exalted the culture, credited it, or brought people from it into the fold. But the 2010s changed that, and the generation Oliver spoke of 12 years ago became the designers private equity firms want to invest in, luxury brands want to partner with, and stores want to carry. 

When something is happening, it’s hard to assess its influence, but as the decade comes to a close, it’s apparent that Hood By Air helped create the luxury streetwear category that’s been fueling fashion. You can’t think about the last 10 years without thinking about Hood By Air, which defined style and trends for almost half the decade. Oliver put his very Black, very queer, and very cool world on a pedestal and changed the way brands design, the way retailers merchandise their stores, they way companies approach casting, and, for many, the way they see themselves and their place in fashion.

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