When it comes to T-shirts showing off Arizona pride, cartoon cacti aren’t the only way to go. A new locally printed line, State Forty Eight, sets out to impact the Arizona fashion scene in a big way with chic, eye-catching, stylish designs showing off state pride. The line includes lightweight hoodies perfect for Valley winters, as well as women’s, men’s and children’s shirts and accessories. Designer Nicholas Polando started State Forty Eight with his brother Stephen Polando and their friend Mike Spangenberg, and it launched this past March. The 25-year-old Tempe resident talked about the future for the line, with Phoenix Suns and Coyotes themes expected to launch by early next year. Keep scrolling to hear Nicholas talk about his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.
What brought you to Arizona?
How did State Forty Eight come about?
Mike, my brother Stephen’s friend, had always wanted to start a clothing line. Stephen realized there was a growing population in Arizona, mostly our generation, who wanted to show support for Arizona, especially through sports teams. The Arizona Cardinals had gone to the Super Bowl, and the Coyotes are staying here.
There was a shortage of what to wear from Arizona, and we wanted to start a line to show that support. My brother knew I was artistic, so he asked me to design a logo, and the name State Forty Eight came to my brother when he was brushing his teeth.
Why were Arizona sports such a big inspiration for the line?
I think we’ve all gone to sporting events where there were a lot of fans who are not even for the home team because there are people from all over the country who moved here. Our generation has kind of stepped up as Arizona sports fans, and it’s a growing thing. If we can connect to sports fans, we can grow exponentially.
Our P-Twice 21 shirt representing Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was our first time moving into featuring athletes on our shirts. We’re currently working with his management to make shirts for him exclusively for his website, which will also drive customers to us. Next month, we’re making the shirts for his charity event.
Why did you decide to focus on Patrick Peterson as your first branded shirt?
There is no one else like him. We put him in offense, and he’s been a star and is probably one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He’s a phenomenal athlete. We respect him and what he does on the field and what he’s brought to our team already. He’s worth showcasing.
How has the line evolved?
We wanted to give everyone a chance to represent us but also to be a little different, so we offer any color combination you could want. We have about 75 items currently and want everyone to feel individual and not be the same as everyone else.
We’d like to extend the shirts to promote Arizona sports teams and bring the nature and sights of Arizona into the designs.
Where do you do your printing?
We print our shirts ourselves. We buy our blanks from a local distributor, McCreary’s Tees, we order our transfers, and we make them ourselves. It allows for some flexibility, which is nice. We won’t put a lot of our color combinations up, but people can ask for something special if they want it. We use Next Level material, which is a really soft cotton-polyester blend. People like to wear the shirts at the gym because they’re so comfortable.
Why is going local with your T-shirt materials important to you?
We like to keep everything local because we are an Arizona brand representing the state and want to do as much as we can locally, from our models, to where we buy our products, to the events we do. We want to support local to give people jobs and spread good karma here. We’ve done local community charity walks and have donated profits to charities, too.
What have been the biggest challenges and benefits to starting the business?
We all work full-time jobs outside of this, and we all would like to dedicate more of our time to State Forty Eight.
The advantages are we can make the line whatever we want. There’s no limit or anything holding us back. If we want to do it, we can. I feel as long as we allow people to have input in our business, there is nothing that can stop us.
What’s it like working with your brother?
We both trust each other’s decisions, and that’s one of the biggest benefits. If he can tell I’m pretty passionate about something, he won’t turn me down, and I’m the same way about him.
What are your goals?
We’d like to have a small boutique store some day, and one of my goals is for other artists and designers around the state to some day contribute their ideas, as well. We’d like to get into shops in the airport and souvenir stores. If you come here from out of town and buy a shirt featuring Arizona, you’re probably going to buy it at a drug store, and it’s going to have a cactus on it and be boring and generic. We want to have shirts people send to their family members to show off Arizona pride.