Photography Rafik Greiss. Furniture Rich Aybar

Exclusive: Meet Anonymous Club, the creative engine driving Hood By Air

The creative nucleus of the newly-relaunched label discuss how parties fuel its process and its residency programme.

by Mahoro Seward
07 October 2020, 5:32pm

Photography Rafik Greiss. Furniture Rich Aybar

In music, fashion and art, we’re so constantly bombarded with the fresh and new that it’s a tough task discerning what’s truly worth getting excited about. Take fashion month, which draws to a close today, as a case in point — in the flurry of a season’s shows, the novelty of one collection is quickly supplanted by the next. There are, however, those announcements that have you chomping at the bit long after they’re made. Announcements such as the long-awaited return of Hood By Air.

When we first reported on the comeback of Shayne Oliver’s game-changing label back in July, we shared that it would be an enterprise with four distinct strands. There’s Hood By Air, a luxury fashion label; HBA, a direct-to-consumer platform; Museum, reissuing pieces from the brand’s coveted archive; and Anonymous Club.

This latter branch, as its name suggests, has, until now, been the shadowiest aspect of the new operation. “The one-liner is that all of Hood By Air is creatively engineered by Anonymous,” says one of its founding members. “It’s the creative studio that builds the content and visual narrative of Hood By Air.” More than that, though, it serves as an open-ended residency programme, incubating emerging creative talents, and realising their wildest artistic dreams in the fields of music, fashion, performance and beyond.

Over the past few weeks, it’s put out its first autonomous creative projects under the Anonymous Club name. The first is an ongoing exhibition at LUMA Westbau in Zurich. At its opening during the Swiss city’s art week, a performance by Anonymous Club's new music project, LEECH — “an idea and avatar that can be embodied by various people" — was staged. The second is the release of their Resident t-shirt, offering you a chance to become an affiliate member of the multidisciplinary creative family.

Below, three Anonymous Club members fill us in on just how this exciting new chapter of the Hood By Air universe works — anonymously, of course.

Anonymous Club

So, in simple terms, what is Anonymous Club?
Anonymous Club member #1: It's a little complicated, but to put it really plain and simple, it's the company and creative behind everything Hood By Air, behind Shayne. And it’s also its own entity. We can run an infinite amount of creative tasks or produce things for third parties, and we also do our own projects. We work on any kind of project that we want to take on and feel comfortable doing with the amount of people on our team.

Anonymous Club member #2: It's sort of like how HBO is the parent company to all these other entities. There are all these other legs to it — movies, music, television — but it also exists on it on its own. What Shayne has been trying to do with getting a collective together is really showing everyone, once again, how he creates in his own world, and Anonymous Club is the nucleus of what he's creating at the moment.

What was Anonymous Club born of?  
Anonymous Club member #1: In the beginning, the concept of Anonymous came in the form of these parties we were throwing. They first started in Brooklyn, and then we moved them to Manhattan, and they happened over about a year. We were having them back to back every Monday, creating chaos at the beginning of the week. They were definitely really, really eventful, probably the most fun we've had in New York in a really long time. We threw them to catalyse the energy that Shayne really thrives off of, nightlife, and then it turned into this ever-growing idea that's become a lot of other things. The people that were in that creative nucleus, as well as the people that were the performers at the party and who gravitated around this creative studio, show that this same process has been what's powered Hood By Air in the past. Anonymous Club is more us giving a name to that. It feels necessary now because it's always been greater than the sum of its parts.

Anonymous Club member #3: Shayne also understood that, coming back with Hood By Air, it couldn't just be the same thing that it was before it went on hiatus. We were like, 'Okay, well, let's find these new people, this new energy that is around. Let's have this party and see what happens and who is down to create with us'. It was just a very honest approach to filling voids and creating that energy that we needed to have.

Anonymous Club

What voids are you trying to fill?
Anonymous Club member #3: We often talk about these perpetuated formulae that we were exhausted, bored and limited by, whether in fashion or music and performance. I think that with Anonymous, we're just smashing them together in these unknown ways to spark something new, or to come across something new in the process without realising it. It's about having scenarios happen and then making sense of what we have in front of us in order to come up with new things. I think now, more so than ever, is the right time for that, as things are sort of dissolving, and we're interested in filling that unknown territory with new ideas and energy, whatever that looks like.

How do you work with your residents?
Anonymous Club member #2: It's an internal dialogue between everyone that's part of it. We work with other artists to make their dreams come true, working internally with our team to actualise their vision with Shayne. It's all-encompassing, it's more like a camp or a school, where everything is kind of fleshed out through creative ideas. Right now, we're launching on a very common ground level with the black t-shirt. That came from the parties — we wanted to make something that people could recognise and be like, 'Oh, that's Anonymous Club, how do I be a part of that?' It's about conceptualising a community feeling at a time when nightlife is no more, or still feels quite far away. How we go about that is by creating Anonymous as more of a vibe, an entity on its own terms beyond a party. It lives through word of mouth, through internet connections, through our performances, like the one that just took place in Zurich.

Anonymous Club member #1: And we’re looking much more multidimensionally, touching on video and all these other spaces. That could be through working with affiliates that performed at our parties, using our creative in their campaigns, in their music, their own clothing or their own worlds. Or it could be us having more intimate daily exchanges with what we're calling ‘the residents’, exchanges that feel much longer-standing or free-thinking in terms of what we can do together and the opportunities that we can bring them — things like the exhibition in Zurich, taking them to a recording studio, or creating a line of merch.

Anonymous Club

Anonymous Club “works with artists to bring their personas to life”. What’s meant by that?
Anonymous Club member #2: The residents we have right now are pretty much hand-picked. They’re up and coming artists who, for lack of better words, don't have the avenues to create freely, to come up with their own merch, to hire a venue for performance, for example. Shayne kind of took it upon himself to give that space to artists, so that they can have their dreams conceptualised and actualised.

Anonymous Club member #1: It's something he learned to do through his relationships in the iterations of HBA over the last decade, so it's about learning from that experience and developing on that.

Anonymous Club member #3: Shayne has a very, very, very good eye for finding people that have potential, and I think that definitely applies to the selection of residents that we're working with now — that’s been proven through working with them and the music they’ve been creating. Our role, if anything, is to kind of nurture that potential and bring it out. It kind of reminds me of Disney Club, it's something I was talking to Shayne about. We're nurturing the talents and building these worlds for them and with them, in collaboration with their personalities, and giving them a starting platform that is way more advanced than starting out on your own, doing your own thing. It's like an opportunity to water a crop and make it grow stronger than it would have on its own.

You also refer to yourself as an institution. What does that mean to you? 
Anonymous Club member #3: An institution is something that solidifies things for the individuals that are participating within it. It's an infrastructure that works in a specific way. We want to kind of create ourselves as an institution that supports the individual artists that we're working with. It's a small version of that now, but I think we're all in the same headspace: looking to create something that will be able to support all of this. It’s like a gallery representing an artist — we want to be able to create that, but in a separate world. To be in service and help the people that we're working with.

Visit Anonymous Club here.

Hood By Air
Shayne Oliver