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Phoenix rarely comes to mind when thinking about fashion. It’s in no way comparable to Paris, Milan or New York. If you’re an aspiring designer, the fashion scene is as dry as our Sonoran desert or so it appears. But just like our stark landscapes, there is more here than meets the eye.

Meet State Forty Eight: the all local Arizona clothing company. Dedicated trunk show retro shoppers might have seen its booth at the Phoenix Flea or the Junk in the Trunk vintage market. Its bold designs are eye catching and its logo has many passers by stopping to ask, “State Forty Eight? What’s that?”

Love of Arizona runs thick in their blood. Michael is a born and raised Arizonian, whereas the Polando brothers originally hail from Detroit. They moved to Chandler when Stephen was 6 and Nicholas was 3. The trio grew up in the same neighborhood in Chandler and attended Chandler High. They saw that Arizona was severely lacking in the indie fashion scene that is to say, it was as dry as the middle of August.

“Mike’s the most passionate person I know about Arizona,” Stephen said. “He’s always been passionate about fashion, and he was trying to come up with a clothing line.”

“I think for the most part when people think of a souvenir or anything that represents Arizona they think of the corny Walgreens shirt,” Michael said. “It’s just a cheap shirt. So we really researched there’s nothing out here that has some fashion, some color to it; something that represents Arizona.”They pointed out that there was nothing in the state fashion wise that reflected Arizona pride.

The idea of State Forty Eight came to fruition in March 2013, but it took a year to get everything off the ground. All three owners were already (and still are) working full time jobs in other industries, but they were determined to succeed.

The first thing was coming up with a catchy name.

“We literally had a book of names,” Michael said. “And then one day he (Stephen) was just brushing his teeth at the house and came up with State Forty Eight. As soon as he said it, I was like ‘done.'”

The paperwork was submitted for the trademark and they began setting up the rudiments of their business. Michael was proactive about getting the brand up and running. He began spreading the word right away.

“Mike had been telling a lot of people. Which, I didn’t necessarily know that at the time. I thought that we’d get some T shirts, and plan some stuff out,” Nicholas said. “Mike was telling everyone that we have a full company.”

“I was just so excited,” Michael said.

While Michael’s excitement threw the Polando brothers for a loop, it set the foundation for their success.

“It helped us because it pushed us to just start. We didn’t sit around and plan things for months,” Nicholas said.

The three of them acknowledge that they are very different from each other, but their differences complement each other. Michael heads sales and marketing, while Stephen oversees operation and production. Nicholas is the designer and the man behind the brand’s most successful logo. While they have their designated titles, they work as a team on everything.

They make anything from onesies to super soft hoodies; guys tanks to girls crop tops; even fashion for your pooch.

“All of our shirts are comfortable, 60/40 polyester cotton. I can honestly say that my favorite thing about this is the clothes we make are my most comfortable clothes. That makes me want to wear my own brand every day; even when I’m sick of seeing the logo because I see it every day,” Stephen said.

The production is all done in house quite literally except for the hats.

“I love hats. That’s the least amount of work. I love when they’re ordered; I love everything about them,” Stephen said laughing.

Since they first started selling in 2013, State Forty Eight has been steadily growing, but their goal is to transition to working at the brand full time.

“Everything we’ve done has come off a $400 investment from each of us,” Stephen explained.

Right now they sell mostly in the Valley, but their goal is to expand their reach to Flagstaff and Tucson. Already they have been steadily growing. In their first year alone they quadrupled their sales.

“From where we started we’ve definitely grown financially. Just for example, this year we’re on pace to double our sales,” Michael said.

State Forty Eight’s success is truly rooted in quality. From the products to the customer service, the brand is about creating something that you’ll want to wear and keep wearing. They will participate this year in Tucson Fashion Week which will get them on track with expanding their exposure statewide.
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