How Aleali May became the queen of Air Jordans —


Aleali May has made a habit of writing out any and all aspirations that pop into her mind.

The 29-year-old model, stylist and fashion designer from South Central Los Angeles even has a name for the random thoughts she jots down. “Manifestations,” she calls them, in hopes they ultimately materialize.

“After I write my manifestations, I always sign the bottom and put the date,” said May via Zoom in early August. “Just because I think it’s me emphasizing to myself, ‘This is something I want.’ ”

May still has the piece of construction paper, dated “Thanksgiving 2019,” on which she manifested the initial concept of her latest sneaker design for the Jordan Brand as part of a creative partnership that’s lasted for the past five years.   

“I wrote down that I wanted a jade Air Jordan 14,” May recalled. “It was about, ‘How do I take those manifestations and do that?’ … When the opportunity came up and the Jordan Brand asked, ‘What’s something that you want to do?’ I definitely was like, ‘I want to do a 14.’ ”

Twenty-one months after she first put pen to paper setting her goal, May’s “Fortune” Air Jordan 14 has arrived, with Thursday’s global release of the low-top silhouette, designed in a light sand, black, metallic gold and jade colorway. The sneaker is inspired by the first pieces of jewelry she received as a little girl from both of her grandmothers, telling the story of May’s half-Black and half-Filipina heritage. Ahead of the drop of the “Fortune” Air Jordan 14, May also arrived at a humbling realization. 

“Honestly, I can’t believe this is my fifth Air Jordan,” said May, who in 2017 emerged as just the second woman in Jordan Brand history to design and release her own sneaker.


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