These are the new Mali home and away shirts for the 08/09 season and African Cup of Nations 2008 made by Airness.
The 36-year-old founder and ceo of sportswearmaker Airness Malamine Koné worked as a shepherd in Mali before moving to the troubled Paris suburbs when he was 10. Although he spoke no French when he arrived, he learned quickly. By the mid-1990s, he had a university law degree and intended to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Airness — a name borrowed from U.S. basketball star Michael Jordan to reflect Koné's brand motto "ever higher, ever stronger." Koné started in 1999, selling sweatshirts sporting the Airness name and slinking-panther logo around the northern Paris housing projects where he lived. He has since developed a clothing and sports line that has grown at least 100% every year. Its founder built Airness around his own early street-level observation: kids determine what's hip, not the companies hawking stuff to them. "By observing what people were buying or looking for, I could react faster to current trends and demand and anticipate what would work next," says Koné.