#29: Aleali May's Air Jordan 1 Is Equal Parts Starter Jacket and Slauson Swapmeet
This week on HYPEBEAST Radio, Aleali May talks about her recent string of successes; from her friends-and-family “Millennial Pink” Air Jordan VI, to her very own Air Jordan 1, May has had quite the year.
As far as the inspirations behind her AJ1 are concerned, May says the shoe is an homage to her hood in Los Angeles: “The corduroy comes from the house slippers that my dad used to buy at the Slauson Swapmeet. The satin and chenille Swoosh came from vintage Starter jackets, because when you think of LA, you think of people wearing Raiders Starters or Kings Starters, even Dodgers, too. I wanted to put that all in one shoe.” May explains that she brought the concept before Jordan Brand‘s Frank Cooker, who did not shy away from a corduroy upper. “I wanted my first collaboration to be a dedication to my city, as a thank you. I feel like a lot of people don’t think of LA as a fashion scene, but we’ve definitely got some staples.”
When it came to the installation, May went all-out. “It was literally paying homage to the Slauson Swapmeet. People don’t know about Slauson, people don’t know about Crenshaw, they’ve never seen Boyz n the Hood or Menace II Society. This is literally that culture brought to La Brea.” May made sure that patrons got the full experience, including serving Randy’s Donuts to those who camped out and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles inside of the pop-up; the cash-wrap was wrapped in Swapmeet jewelry.
May’s approach to fashion, styling and design is based on a process of combining high and low, street and haute-couture. This approach dates back to her work for Louis Vuitton and RSVP Gallery, and even to her Tumblr days: “Seeing Lil Wayne, Pharrell and Kanye bridging high-end fashion and streetwear. Streetwear is luxury, and it’s also a lifestyle. Mind you, all my best friends and I met on Tumblr. Y’know, because I went to your page and you were re-blogging the same Nigo photos I was reblogging, with the same chains that Pharrell had on.” May also tells the story of her big break styling Kendrick Lamar for his performance on Jimmy Kimmel (she has since styled Jaden Smith, Lil Yachty and Playboi Carti, among others).
Aleali also speaks on the importance of staying true to yourself as a creative and as a woman in the male-dominated streetwear scene, citing her main goal is “bringing girls together and letting ‘em know that you can do both: you can wear heels, you can wear sneakers, you can look fresh in women’s clothes, men’s clothes, however you feel, and just being comfortable.”
In case you missed it, we celebrated the HB100 event last month in Miami. Pandora helped bring the music to the after-party at the Nautilus, A Sixty Hotel. Playboi Carti performed and included sets by Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston, No Vacancy Inn.