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One-on-One: Aleali May

We chatted with the Jump(wo)man muse during All-Star 2019 about her coveted sneaks and the future of streetwear. Welcome to the world of Ms. May.

Interview: Kassie McRostie

Images: Kacie Markle

At CNK Daily, we utilize our platform to empower, educate, and elevate women in the SneakHER community. Even though this past weekend was a full ballerific activities, the sneaker experiences took over Charlotte as well. Nike and Jordan invaded the Queen City to bring the experience of sneaker culture like we’ve never seen it before. Aleali May was one of the many street style icons of our generation that graced the Jordan x Nike Owner’s HQ event.

Focused on her craft, Aleali May customized her All Star Weekend Jersey (which turned out bomb AF) while vibing with everyone around the design table. Even though this was a pure fangirl opportunity, we composed ourselves to ask Aleali a few SneakHER questions we were dying to know. Check out this EXCLUSIVE interview below.

CNK: Your first release last year paid tribute to your roots. The latest AJ 1 Court Luxe seemed to be more about bringing together high fashion and streetwear. How important is it for you to continue to merge these two worlds in a way that’s authentic to your original voice?

A: “Well, for me to blend both it was just like saying ‘Hey, here’s a girl that grew up in South Central Los Angeles’ but it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s like when you have that feeling of “one day I want to own Chanel pearls” or “one day I want to own my grandmother’s vintage fur jacket”. You know you have those dreams so being able to dabble in high fashion as well as streetwear is so big for me and definitely really appreciated.

To pay homage to both worlds and for other people to understand that streetwear and high end (fashion) are both a luxury you know? When you see those kids lining up for sneakers, that's a luxury! For example, it’s a luxury to be able to afford resell. These are the same things that we would see on Ebay back in the day, like the first vintage Chanel piece.”

CNK: And people go crazy over them (sneakers and streetwear)!

A: “Right!? Just having the voice for women wearing sneakers and the opportunity to have dope options is amazing. Our guys always have the most fire options and we need some too! We need the options where we can be like ‘regardless if its a men’s or women’s shoe, I’m still out here shitting on you’ - know what I mean? Haha!”

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“Just having the voice for women wearing sneakers and the opportunity to have dope options is amazing. Our guys always have the most fire options and we need some too.”

CNK: The Friends and Family AJ 6 you designed last year is something we’re eager to get our hands on. Can you give some insight on the inspiration behind that design and color way?

A: “Yeah, I mean millennial pinks it's kind of like…(pause) that's THE statement right there. To elaborate on that is really representing what Jordan Brand is from this moment on moving forward - being able to take on classic OG silhouettes. The AJ 6 is one of my favorites and also the ring year! It’s really big for Jordan, and I wanted to put a different twist on something that's known as very masculine and hard.

As far as the pink tone, I didn't want to give a typical pink women’s Jordan because that's what we usually tend to do. I actually got the inspiration from a men’s jacket when I was shopping and it was this rustic pink color. I felt that should actually be millennial pink because the tone caters to men and women! It was only right to put it on a 6, and I feel like that would look really dope with the infared details.”

CNK: And it makes it pop!

A: “Exactly! I love the satin on the shoe as well - even on the inside. It’s really just a play on millennials and gender equality, gender fluidity, and shit… another dope pair for us! These will also be in men sizes too.”

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“There’s a strong women's team at the Jordan Brand and at Nike, therefore we’re pushing out great product.”

CNK: Sneaker culture is expanding and reaching women who didn’t own a pair of J’s before your release last year, what do you want to see more of as it relates to brand storytelling and designs for women in the future?

A: “You know, right now I’m just really excited to see what's going to happen next year. Because whether it’s music, fashion, or just everyday people on the street, things are changing so much.  With the internet making us push through a lot of things much faster, I feel like there is going to be a lot of change, like A LOT of change. There are more women on the scene, and even more youth. I think it's just a great time for everyone to have these amazing opportunities to show their individuality and also have people relate to it.

Specifically, it’s a great time for women.  There’s a strong women's team at the Jordan Brand and at Nike, therefore we’re pushing out great product. You’ve got Yoon, and so many other dope girls, that now women can be more expressive in streetwear because they have more options.”

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“Styling and design? Yoon. I absolutely love her and she's always been one of my idols. Knowing her now is like “This is crazy!” I’m really happy to be in the room.”

CNK: You’re right because women can utilize sneakHers to identify with. You seem to lift others as you climb, we loved what you did with Tasha Bleu and Jordan when you styled your friends. Who are a few people that you feel are moving SneakHER culture forward in both styling and design?

A: “Styling and design? Yoon. I absolutely love her and she's always been one of my idols. Knowing her now is like “This is crazy!” I’m really happy to be in the room. Maya Moore had her Jordan 10 come out, and I thought that was amazing because she got to add special details like her favorite bible verse, and favorite colors from her jersey. Many people began to pay attention.  She was signed to Jordan Brand way before I was, and she made a lane for women like myself to be there. When you think of Jumpman you think of basketball and you’re like, “Yo, Maya Moore is the Jordan for women and more people need to know about her! More people need to include her in so much because she's just dominating”.

To take it back to Jordan Brand, basketball and fashion have created so many avenues. For example, designers like Saint Laurent are designing sneakers that look like Jordan 1’s. Being collaborative across different spectrums is going to move us forward for sure.”

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“[Maya Moore] was signed to Jordan Brand way before I was, and she made a lane for women like myself to be there.”

CNK: Do you have a dream collab?

A: “My dream collab… is a sneaker with Chanel or Louis Vuitton or something that would be CRAZY .”

CNK: That’s like the Vogue x Air Jordan 3 which reminds us of a Chanel bag.

A: “Well, you know Anna Wintour is known for the Chanel Twill Jackets and the sunglasses so honestly when I look at those sneakers I know that’s Anna! Yeah, but that would be crazy!”

To keep up with Aleali, make sure your Instagram post notifications (@alealimay) are turned on. You never know when her next sneakHER will drop!

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