They say it’s not where you’re from it’s where you’re at. They also say you can’t go home again. But for Aleali May they’re one in the same. One of the most original girls taking street fashion digital, her unique sense of style has garnered not only the attention of the Internet but also the street. If this all sounds a bit confusing, it shouldn’t. The youth have always found new ways to express themselves and Aleali is no exception. From the front rows of fashion shows to the style guides on her namesake AlealiMay.com, this new breed of creative is riding some giant waves.We took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles with the young beauty for a better look into her routine. Always on the move, Aleali exemplifies what it means to be forward in a city that is traditionally known for its laid backness…
Where are you from?
I was born in LA, went to high school in Colorado because my dad was in the army, lived in Chicago for my college years, and now back home. Traveling to me is everything! Learning about other cultures, traditions, history, and people is amazing. Travel channel is how I started seeing the world before actually traveling. And now I’m blessed to see the same places I once watched on screen.
Why did you come back to Los Angeles?
Chicago was an amazing city to be in! But way too cold for me. To add, I just felt like coming home would be the best decision for my career. But I had to leave in order to appreciate my city and gained a whole lot of experience in the meantime.
It feels like Los Angeles is having a real moment right now in food, fashion, art and overall culture. Do you have any insight into that?
Los Angeles is definitely having its shine right now. Especially in fashion, runway shows taking place with major fashion houses is so new to the land. I love that people are starting to see the hidden values. I’m excited to see what it will be like in 5 years.A lot of people are buzzing about the new “youth wave,” and putting you in that category. Could you explain the importance of young people changing the landscape of culture and the prevalence of online community?
We must invest in the youth in order to create a better tomorrow. And that’s in fashion, in education, in all aspects of life. Even when we expand online, that’s spreading our culture, that’s investing in the youth just by existing. As Dzogchen Ponlop says,
“Who we are is shaped by our culture, and who we are is what changes it.”
In the past so many cultural and counter-cultural movements started or blossomed in New York City from hip-hop to street art. Do you feel that is still the case or has the Internet changed the importance of geographical location?
Everything goes in waves, LA then NY then back to LA and then NY again. I believe It’s a part of the natural cycle of waves (lol!).As a young creative do you think geographical location is as important as it used to be with the power of social media and the Internet?
Living in a bigger city always guaranteed a bigger network, but social media and the Internet are changing that perspective everyday. Everyday the Internet grows, and you can shine light on anyone with the touch of a button, “post.”
Do you feel a sense of support as a young creative in the Los Angeles community: Fairfax, Silver Lake or downtown arts district?
No doubt! Love the community, the community loves back!
American kids used to hang at record stores, concerts, and skate parks. It seems now they are hanging out a lot more in line-ups to buy gear. Do you have any insight into how American kids have taken on a more Japanese approach to lifestyle, fashion, and young hustle?
Prices of so many hyped items are high. I respect young kids learning the hustle. I think it’s not only Japanese and American culture but everywhere. People see the demand for a product and they either think about buying it for themselves or flipping it. Both ways are profitable, just depends on the person.
How do you incorporate your environment into your style?
I like to wear staples of the city. For example, I’ll post Vans for my California natives or Jordan’s for the time I lived in Chicago and gained a bigger understanding of the shoes. Wherever I am, I stay open to the culture and incorporate that in my style.You’re creating a lot of original content on the regular. Can you talk a bit about what it means to be a content creator in 2015 with the Internet and social media. Does any of this make sense to your parents?
My parents never understood any of this, but they accept what I’m doing. Everyday of creating content is a new day of learning about the Internet, social media, and life in 2015. Create what you feel and show others by executing that idea through the work, as it’s always been.How do you balance your job (paying gigs) with creating personal material that presents your unique perspective and means something to you?
That’s easy, only work on things you truly have a heart for. Focus on passion and the money follows.
Where would you like to see your personal brand going in the next few years?
Hmmm, farther and stronger than where it is today.
Do you find it hard to maintain a healthy active lifestyle in Los Angeles or is it easier because of the weather?
It’s definitely easier because of the weather. Less days cooped up inside, and more days to enjoy being outside.
Tell us about your day to day regime?
“No two days are alike, except for the 1st and 15th, pretty much.” – Jay Z
What are your favorite ways to stay healthy and active in Los Angeles?
Taking walks around the neighborhood, practicing breathing, and doing some stretches inside or outside.
What are some of the places you go to maintain a healthy lifestyle in Los Angeles?
Yoga Studio, Runyon Canyon, and the beach.
How many times a week do you sweat?
At least 2-3.
Where’s your favorite place to eat?
Sugarfish Sushi and Whole Foods.
What are your favorite places to shop?
H Lorenzo, 424 on Fairfax, RSVP Gallery, Undefeated, ACNE Studios, and Net-A-Porter.
How would you describe your personal style?
Street style meets lux.
Has coming from Los Angeles and living there effected the way you dress?
I think wherever you live has a say on how you dress. Before I moved to Chicago I wore lots of color. When I was preparing to come back to LA, my wardrobe was mostly black. I think wherever you live you naturally gain the city’s lifestyle and certain traits of it. LA is nice, warm, fun which leads to colors. Chicago is brick cold which leads to darker tones, adding more grunge and edge. Although I still rock Vans and Chuck Taylor’s in any city.
You have such a unique personal style, the way you blend streetwear, activewear, and high fashion. Could you talk a bit about that?
It’s never forced for me. I grew up looking up to Pharrell, Nigo, Kanye, Yoon from Ambush, M.I.A and many alike. But I also grew up in South Central, LA, where Jordan’s weren’t something that Hypebeast fan over, Jordan had every hood in every city on lock. At the same time, being a girl and wanting to have an immaculate closet of clothes was always a dream, heels included lol! This is just a mix of how I started, where I’m from, who I’m influenced by but who I’m evolving to.
What are your favorite things to do on your days off?
Meditation, hang with friends, museums and trying out new foods.
What’s your advice for young people wanting to break into the fashion industry and follow in your footsteps?
You have much more to work with as far as social platforms and you should definitely take advantage of that! Stay hungry and be willing to learn.
Any tips or tricks you’ve learned to incorporate being healthy and active into your busy lifestyle?
It’s all a mind game for me. A habit you have to practice in order to break. I have to remind myself that I am what I eat.
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