CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund-winning designer Telfar Clemens, 32, chats with friend and designer Shayne Oliver, 30, (of award-winning label Hood By Air) about the fashionability of masculinity — and the ephemerality of what’s in style.
Telfar Clemens: If I had to say my favorite fashion moment of all time, it would be right now, basically. Today.
Shayne Oliver: It seems like everything works in the context of the time period you’re in. It’s relevant when you see it. Before, I used to think about “moments” but now I’m focused on things as they happen. What are you into right now? What are you excited about?
TC: Everything! It’s never been more confusing and actually more meaningful. Everything doesn’t make sense and then it does. What does masculinity mean to you? Has it evolved?
SO: It’s like fashion, basically. It goes around, it comes around. There are certain types of men who are in style. Does it mean something? It doesn’t mean anything.
TC: It could mean a lot of different things and it doesn’t mean the same thing to any other person. Why do you design unisex clothing?
SO: I know one sort of person, and I design for that body type, and it became a thing. Both people can fit. But I really never got into unisex … it didn’t start out like that. I wasn’t going there to go there.
TC: That was more my thing. The clothes that I wanted to wear didn’t exist. That’s the fact. If you had to name names, who is your style icon?
SO: I’m going to be corny and say Bowie. Only because he did the same thing. He was like, “Ooh, it’s the ’80s, let me be more masculine or more feminine.” It’s the attitude. I don’t see any specific thing he did as iconic.
TC: Literally everybody is iconic in some sort of way. I don’t hype anyone too, too much. How do you push the boundaries of menswear?
SO: We like to question things. The work just follows. That’s different from the old ideas of menswear in general — that, “It’s about a baggy suit!” and then they end up doing baggy suits forever. In the moment, it seems really new to everyone; it’s not the idea of the time, it’s really just that person’s style. How we work is more, like, “OK, well, that happened, now let’s go this way.”
TC: It’s always about what’s not there. Otherwise what’s the point? You’re just creating more stuff.
Shayne Oliver photo by Roger Erikson