Street-style darling Aleali May epitomizes the cool-girl aesthetic. Effortlessly walking the line between sexy and sporty, the Cali native has a sneaker game that’s so strong that Jordan tapped her to design a pair of exclusive kicks in 2017 – a history-making move for the Nike-owned brand. Two drops later, May remains a front-row staple at top runway shows. Call it kismet that the fashionista’s moniker (pronounced Uh-lay-lee) bears such similarity to R&B style icon Aaliyah’s. The late singer is the self-professed tomboy’s fashion idol. Read our exclusive sit-down with the sartorial star and take a look at her coveted Jordan collabs below.
ESSENCE: Talk a bit about your personal style.
May: It’s a mix of streetwear, high fashion and avant-garde looks. I’m inspired by Aaliyah, Pharrell, and Los Angeles, among other influences. I love living out 1990’s girl group and 2000’s style while giving it a new age twist. You can always count Jordan sneakers in my rotation for shoes. A cargo pant or baggy jean is always a part of my uniform with a tank. Recently I’ve also been into the color orange.
ESSENCE: What labels are you loving right now?
May: You’ll find me in Chanel, Rick Owens, Maison Margiela, Murder Bravado and vintage sportswear. Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall, Yoon Ahn of Ambush and Nicolas Ghesquiere of Louis Vuitton are some of my favorite designers. They all push boundaries, whether it’s [finding] new ways to look at utilitarian clothing or challenging the modern aesthetic.
ESSENCE: What’s your all-time favorite fit?
May: The look that I wore to Virgil-Abloh’s first Louis Vuitton show– a vintage Celine blouse and Stella McCartney pants that I cut, paired with my second Jordan 1 collab and Louis Vuitton Bindi sunglasses. It was a special moment for Virgil entering his position at Louis Vuitton’s menswear division because he was the first person of color [to do so] and someone from the streetwear community. That showed any kid he or she can do the same.