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Why A Ma Maniére Is Reintroducing an OG Colorway of the Air Ship & Using It to Highlight Black Women

Sneaker fans have grown fond of A Ma Maniére collaborations with Jordan Brand, and their signature aesthetics. However, the retailer’s latest release with the athletic powerhouse looks a bit different.

On Aug. 26, A Ma Maniére — one of the banners owned by retail mogul James Whitner — will release a limited-edition iteration of the classic Air Ship, a sneaker worn by NBA icon Michael Jordan in 1984 before he laced up an Air Jordan 1. The purpose of the launch, according to A Ma Maniére, was to “pay homage and stand up for the OG silhouette that started it all.”

Rather than use neutral tones such as sail and burgundy crush from Jordan Brand’s palette, the A Ma Maniére Air Ship is executed in white and royal hues. The look also features subtle A Ma Maniére branding on the tongue and classic Nike Air branding on the heel tab.

The A Ma Maniére Air Ship is limited to 2,300 pairs priced at $140. Each pair is individually numbered and will be available via Amamaniere.com.

What’s arguably just as compelling as the sneaker is the short film A Ma Maniére created to promote its release. The video, titled “Do It In the Dark,” both highlights the silhouette’s origin story and tells an impactful story that A Ma Maniére said was inspired by the struggles of the Black community to “prove itself in the face of doubt, adversity and systemic issues.” Also, the retailer said the story is one of redemption and validation “coming at the cost of countless hours doing the work in silence and anonymity.”

The clip — which was shot in the Gateway Center Arena, where the Atlanta Dream plays, and in Atlanta’s historic Butler Street YMCA — features appearances from Dream head coach Tanisha Wright, as well as several team members including Rhyne Howard, Naz Hillmon, AD Durr and Aari McDonald. It also includes a performance from up-and-coming recording artist Reuben Vincent and was directed by the Turner Brothers.

Below, Whitner reveals why A Ma Maniére is reintroducing the Air Ship in a major way and offers insight into the creation of the “Do It In the Dark” video.

What was the purpose of working with Jordan Brand to release an OG colorway of the Air Ship? 

“This isn’t about a collaboration. This is about pulling out an OG, bringing an OG back to the world the right way. This is about reintroducing the Ship to the world. It was a chance to be a part of a major moment to help bring something back.”

What makes the Air Ship such an under-appreciated shoe?

“I love the Ship and the Ship’s journey. It was the first shoe that MJ played in from the brand, so it means something to the legacy the brand, and reintroducing it was something I was excited about. And then aesthetically, it’s something that I would actually wear. This is some ‘if you know you know’ s**t. The goal wasn’t to do something [as a collaboration] in this moment. The goal was for people to respect what it is before you start working on it. The only other time that people have seen the Ship is in the Chicago [‘New Beginnings’] two-pack.”

Why does the Air Ship need to be brought back into the consciousness of sneaker fans?

“Classics are so important right now — the AJ1 is so important and the AJ1 was influenced by the Ship. The Ship was a thing pre-Dunk and even pre-Air Force 1. This shoe influenced all of the shoes that everyone loves.”

A Ma Maniére Air Ship
A Ma Maniére Air Ship.
CREDIT: Courtesy of A Ma Maniére

Will A Ma Maniére collaborate on the Air Ship with new aesthetics in the future?

“I’m not going to comment on that. What I will say is you’re an incredibly astute person.”

With the “Do It In the Dark” video, A Ma Maniére has once again highlighted Black women in its storytelling. Why is it important to continue to champion Black women with every A Ma Maniére project?

“Black women are the most underrepresented group in the world — the end. We talk about equity and balance and scale. We’re going to continue to champion everything that we think is right and needs to happen. For us, the idea of pushing a woman ahead helps strengthen us all. Black women are the foundation of the Black community, Black neighborhoods, Black households. For us to tell those stories, it’s just natural. We’ve got to make sure that we empower them.”

How would you characterize the voice and the mission of the “Do It In The Dark” video?

“With A Ma Maniere, we’re always talking about things that are a bit more difficult. The goal with all this was to talk about the underdog who is still trying to reach for greatness. The idea is to show the people who are climbing for greatness and continuing to fight through whatever adversity is in front of you. The A Ma Maniére ethos and brand voice remains the same. We’re not going to waver from where we are. We’re going to live in that brand voice as we work with Jordan Brand. With the Atlanta Dream, look at what happened with their ownership, and then the ownership change. Rhyne Howard from the Dream was recently named Rookie of the Year for this season, and Tanisha Wright was named Coach of the Year — but we didn’t know that when we shot the video. We just did the video, and when we finished we were like, ‘Oh s**t, AP just named the Rookie of the Year and Coach the Year,’ so there was some irony in it. Also, with Ruben Vincent, he is an incredible artist who is dropping his debut album soon. With him, we wanted made sure we shined a light on a person who is about to break through.”

What was behind the decision to highlight Atlanta Dream head coach Tanisha Wright in the video?

“She got named coach of Atlanta Dream last year and won Coach of the Year this year. She went into a situation with the Dream where the team was coming out of poor leadership that didn’t believe in BLM and things that matter to us, that now has an ownership group who wanted a leader on and off the court. We included her primarily because of what happened with the old ownership and her pursuing greatness. It’s crazy that we’re both working in the same city in the ways that we do. She’s from the same projects I’m from, has the same story as mine, but hers is different because she was locked in and focused on sport, and she’s now reaping the benefits of it.”

There are also nods in the video to WNBA star Brittney Griner, who remains in prison in Russia on drug charges. What were the discussions like internally to incorporate her story and cause in the video?

“We actually never talked about the BG storytelling, we just did it. If LeBron [James] was locked up in Russia, the world would flip. Now, we’re starting to talk about the U.S. government getting involved in a meaningful way to make a swap, but again, we’ve got a Black woman who is a political prisoner right now and you’ve got to speak on it.”

A Ma Maniére Air Ship
A look at the A Ma Maniére Air Ship.
CREDIT: Courtesy of A Ma Maniére
A Ma Maniére Air Ship
A closeup of the A Ma Maniére Air Ship.
CREDIT: Courtesy of A Ma Maniére
A Ma Maniére Air Ship
The tongue of the A Ma Maniére Air Ship.
CREDIT: Courtesy of A Ma Maniére
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