Hood By Airs humble beginnings came in 2006 with the creation of a small-scale line of T-shirts emblazoned with the word hood. Two years later, after three successful collections and the chance to art direct disco-dance revolutionaries Hercules and Love Affair, the labels designer, Shayne Oliver (above left), has found himself at the helm of a full-fledged menswear brand. Making a convincing case for recasting urban culture as new glamour, Oliver is influenced by and pays homage to the streets of New York in his line of sportswear and outerwear. New York changes as dramatically as the times do, he says. There are people that make it more exciting or push it forward, but as far as representation goes, it really depends on what the mass population presents. Or, in some cases, what the freewheeling atmosphere of one of Olivers favorite hangouts, legendary New York gay bar the Cock, offers as inspiration. People get wild in New York, but it has some pretense behind it, Oliver says. People at the Cock are there to get dirty regardless of their occupation, class, race -- or fashion sense.
Twenty-five-year-old Victor Osbornes (above right) custom-made hats -- which range from sleek chapeaux to over-the-top cocktail numbers trimmed with fluorescent taxidermied mice -- are inspired in part by iconoclastic New York City designer Stephen Sprouse, who changed peoples perspectives of what fashion is and could be. A runway favorite, Osborne is now turning his attention to collaborations with other New York artists, an experience that has triggered new ways of reconceptualizing the city he calls home. New York is becoming smaller and smaller, and theres no longer a clear division between uptown and downtown, East Village and West Village, he says. Its exciting because we are all experiencing the same thing at the same time.