trends & subculturesFriday, April 16, 2021

Aleali May Interview: The Sneaker Superstar Talks Everything from Air Jordans to her Uncle G




Air Jordan collabs aren’t just offered to anyone, but 26-year-old Aleali Kreshall May is more than ‘just anyone' ― she’s a millennial wonder woman.


Aleali — pronounced, as she politely informs all on Instagram — is the world’s most famous female sneakerhead (well, since 90s-era Mel C). Her track record includes being the second woman to collaborate with Jordan in its 34-year history, the first woman ever to design Jordan sneakers in both men's and women's sizes and being a stylist to the likes of Kendrick Lemar and Tinashe. But what makes Aleali so enticing is her story of humble beginnings.


California born, Aleali May first entered the fashion industry whilst studying at Columbia College Chicago. At just 19 years old, she secured a part-time job at Louis Vuitton and was later hired by RSVP gallery — a Chicago-based boutique created by Virgil Abloh and Don C. Fast-forward seven years and the fashion triple threat (ambitiously juggling careers as a stylist, model and designer) is now lucky enough to count Virgil as a friend.


Just like Micheal Jordan himself, Aleali May is a poster girl for the power of a success-driven mindset. She oozes determination, has great zeal for sneaker culture and is confident enough to speak her mind. Spearheading a generation of women who are as engrossed by streetwear as their male counterparts; just one stalk of May’s Insta feed is enough to convince even the most sceptical that sneakers are as much as a women’s game as they are a man’s.


We caught up with ‘Her Airness’ (on the beach, as you do) to talk influences, achievements and all things Air Jordan.




Firstly, talk us through your outfit choice today and why you have opted for a pair of Alyx boots that are very different from your Jordans.

My outfit choice is a Hyein Seo look paired with Alyx boots. If it isn’t sneakers, you can always catch me in a pair of boots. Alyx is one of my favourite brands because I feel like it’s one of the few brands in which everything Matthew makes represents the type of girl that I am — edgy, avant-garde, sporty, classic, and futuristic. I feel like a superhero when wearing Alyx. A brand that brings out my personality is a brand I will continue to invest in! Not to mention, Matthew and Jennifer Williams are friends of mine and also street legends!   


How would you describe your style?

My style is a mix between streetwear and high-end fashion mixed with 90s hip-hop/R&B and ‘vampire’ avant-garde — but I always keep it LA.


What’s been your proudest professional achievement?

My proudest achievement was designing my first shoe, the Aleali May Satin Shadow Air Jordan 1, back in October 2017.




You’ve breathed new life into the Air Jordan 1 and Air Jordan 6 silhouettes. Which other Jordan models would you love to experiment with?

I would love to experiment with the higher number Jordans, something that people wouldn’t expect.


Women around the world are inspired by your outfits, but who inspires you?

My mom and family, Aaliyah, Pharrell, Nigo, Phoebe Philo, Rick Owens, Allen Iverson, 2Pac, Andre 3000 and Missy Elliot to name a few!


What is one essential sneaker that everyone should own and why?

An Air Jordan because they all provide comfort, style, history, heritage, street and lux.


You refreshed the Air Jordan 6 with a very-millennial ‘Rust Pink’ colourway. What hues should everyone be investing in for the 2020s?

Nipsey Blue dedicated to Nipsey Hussle, my hometown hero.




Do you explore the ways that people choose to style your Aleali May x Jordan sneakers after they release?

I love to see everyone’s take on their personal style with something that represents every type of girl.


When designing your first pair of Jordan sneakers, the Air Jordan 1 Satin Shadow, who did you seek advice from?

My Uncle G: the person who bought me my first Jordans.


Do you have a favourite pair of sneakers that you’ve designed?

My Air Jordan 1 Satin Shadows, because this project was specifically for Los Angeles, the city that raised me and for my family who have always encouraged me. Without a solid foundation, you can’t accomplish anything.


What is your favourite thing about collaborating with Nike/Jordan?

They give me the opportunity to express my most creative self.


What can we expect to see in the future from Jordan x Aleali May?

More representation for women in a male-dominated society.




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