A Ma Maniére Gives Black Women Their Flowers With Its Air Jordan 12 Collaboration

AMM founder James Whitner shares his thoughts on how Black women impact culture and his ethos of crafting timeless products.

Footwear 
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James Whitner and his A Ma Maniére team aren’t too cool to care. As part of the modern-day streetwear and sneaker ecosystem, they’ve established their own lane by being storytelling savants. For Whitner, kicks are larger-than-life products that can be utilized as catalysts to create change. “We’ve been at this for almost 10 years now, and through exploration, experimentation, and consistency we’ve carved out the principles that guide us in our work and executions”, Whitner tells Hypebeast. Through a collaborative relationship with Jordan Brand, A Ma Maniére has been writing its own handbook on how to effectively bring social justice issues to light and spotlight Black culture and communities. And the next chapter in its story? The A Ma Maniére x Air Jordan 12.

The overarching title for this new initiative is “She Is The Blueprint,” which defines that the collaboration is devoted to Black women. Following A Ma Maniére’s Air Jordan 3, Air Jordan 1, Air Jordan 2 and Air Jordan 4 collaborations, these Air Jordan 12s are equipped with quilted liners and supple suede dyed in a signature burgundy hue. Accompanying the shoes is an apparel assemblage that includes a jacquard down-filled puffer, a nylon shirt and pant set, a suede knit tracksuit set and monogram jacquard hoodies and tees. To further express its feminist side, A Ma Maniére gave ladies first access to its in-store and online raffles.

Prior to the release, James Whitner spoke to Hypebeast about his journey working with Jordan Brand so far, how A Ma Maniére focuses on timeless luxury and what role Black women play in culture.

“It never starts with the product, it’s all focused on how we can be of impact and service to the world first, and then we start cooking on how that gets experienced.”

A Ma Maniére has been collaborating with Jordan Brand since 2020. How has your collaborative mindset evolved since then?

It’s less about the creative process and more about the relationship we’ve built. Jordan Brand has been committed to the shared journey we are on from the jump. They understand how intentional we are about our mission and purpose in this space and believe deeply in the important message we can deliver to the world together. The issues we take on are big, and it takes visionaries to want to go along that path with you. And so once that’s locked in and you have that trust and belief, creating becomes second nature. We are a lot more familiar now in how we think and operate, so we feed off our collective strengths more naturally. It never starts with the product, it’s all focused on how we can be of impact and service to the world first, and then we start cooking on how that gets experienced.

How do you feel you’ve inserted your own unique design language into these collaborations?

From the start we were encouraged to be us, and that’s both in our stories and how we execute design from inspiration. We’ve always obsessed over what A Ma Maniére and Jordan Brand executions would mean and deliver. Not many people in our space have the opportunity to do what we do, so we never, ever take it lightly. So if we’re going to show up — and show up consistently — we need to ensure that we’re delivering something the community that supports and believes in our work and journey is proud of.

Classic, timeless luxury is the ethos of A Ma Maniére. It’s our commitment at every level. Visually, most will point to the quilted liner and luxury details. But really, the whole process has to be different. From picking out the exact model that fits best for the story to the material explorations, we have to execute at the highest level possible so the end product is a one-of-a-kind timeless piece.

“The women of our team and business show up daily to inform the direction we go in. That’s why this moment is important.”

When did the Air Jordan 12 first come into the picture for you, and why was now the right time to collaborate on it?

Whenever we sit to start thinking and shaping the next chapter, all minds come together to think of the best canvas. You look at the significance of this year, the timing of this project from a historical perspective and the silhouette’s connection with Utah having a moment this year — it aligned beautifully. But we were all universally intent on this being a moment for women and figuring out how we could capture the energy and attention of the world to focus on Black women and their impact.

This collaboration serves as a love letter to the beauty and power of Black women. Can you elaborate on what Black women have meant to you personally and how they came to be the subject for this launch?

Black women move and shape the world. Period, point blank. Look at everything around you from how the world expresses itself, dresses and seeks inspiration — it’s all powered by the essence and creativity of Black women. Do they ever get credit for it? Hell no! They put the whole world on to what’s important, to what’s next, are the pulse of every community, and still have to deal with the compound issues of being a Black person in our day and age and the issues you face with that. So as we started this chapter, the focus had to be on “her,” because she is too important to be ignored — and if we have the platform then it’s our responsibility to always use it to speak to what we see and experience. And once again, this is less about me and more about the world, how we all experience it. Our team reflects this. The women of our team and business show up daily to inform the direction we go in. That’s why this moment is important.

How did you balance maintaining the Air Jordan 12’s heritage while adding your own flair to it?

The Air Jordan 12 is an iconic silhouette that already sits at the pinnacle of luxury. In all fairness, the essence of the work is already there and in place, so our approach was to zero in on the details. That resulted in the burgundy hairy suede adding lush, regal details and staying consistent with the ideals of how the Black woman is royalty. We wanted her to be grounded in that as she’s recognized, acknowledged and celebrated. You then add the quilted liner to go with the highest level of black suede and white leather for the upper, and the final look was exceptional. The perspective was “this should be the shoe that “she” puts men on to and gets to own and excite the world with. Too often, you see the process go into how to make it feminine — we don’t subscribe to that thinking. For us it was always about what we could execute that she’d hold up as her own.

There’s always a story to tell around Black culture and community when it comes to A Ma Maniére collaborations. Do you feel any pressure to find new ways to re-tell these stories with every launch?

No. This is our “why.” More than product and moments, these are lived and shared experiences. We are fortunate to be in the position that we are and to have the support from Jordan Brand to do so. There is a responsibility that comes with that, and we will continue to do the work.

Can you tell us something that we may not know about the collab?

This process was special because it coincided with a lot of parallel work we are doing in the women’s space. That not only assured us we were on the right track with this project but also that we were in our vision for the business. As we were working through this project, a women-led task force from within our team was carrying out insights sessions across our cities to inform what our Women’s experience should be, would be and how it would serve “her.” Now we find ourselves with this special project coming to life on the eve of opening our latest Women’s experience space this year. It will be called JAIDE — more to come on that soon.

If you could describe this collection in one word, what would that be?

Important. This collection really starts to show the intent behind what you can expect from us over time from an apparel and a footwear perspective. We were given the time and support from the brand to get better and sharpen the aesthetic and this shows the fruits of all our collective teams’ labor — now this is going to get really, really fun.


The “Black/Burgundy” colorway will be officially released on February 24 with the apparel pieces while the “White/Burgundy” pair will drop on March 2 exclusively through A Ma Maniére.

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