We take our role as the premier Arizona clothes brand seriously
You’ve probably read our origin story elsewhere in these pages; how a starry-eyed Arizona youth named Mike Spangenberg went shopping for school clothes every summer, filled with patriotic fervor for his home state. But he searched in vain for quality Arizona wear, finding only cheap, foreign-sourced, drugstore T-shirts that had little to do with the state of which he was so justifiably proud. Dejected, the stars in his little eyes dimmed with tears, Mike stumbled out of the tacky little five-and-dime and vowed to someday — someday — get together with two guys named Stephen and Nicholas and create an Arizona clothes brand worthy of the name of State Forty Eight.
(Note: If you’re able to read the lines above, it means Mike probably hasn’t yet.)
The interesting thing about State Forty Eight’s origin story, as is true of most origin stories, like Batman’s or The Avengers’, is that there was no hint that someday it would lead to an $8 billion movie franchise.
Wait, that was The Avengers, not us. In our much more modest case — trust us, much more — our story wasn’t just the origin of a few T-shirts that li’l Mike would’ve been proud to wear on the playground.
See, as it turns out, if you’re going to have an apparel/accessories business that represents Arizona, and you’re serious about how you represent, it’s gonna take a lot more than a few, though admittedly a really attractive few, T-shirts.
A few T-shirts isn’t gonna do it
As you go through our merchandise pages on this site, which we encourage you to do as soon as you’re done reading, or even now if you want to buy something and come back, you’re going to say to yourself, “Dang! They have a lot of Arizona stuff!” And you would be right, because first, the customer always is; and second, we do.
The reason you’ll notice that is due to a realization we had about eight years ago, which is this: Unless we do this Arizona brand clothing thing right, there’s really not much difference between us and the fresh-off-the-boat shirts that disappointed Mike all those years ago — other than the thickness of the fabric and quality of the construction, and far better creative designs that really look like something from and about Arizona. If we’re going to be not just an Arizona clothes brand, but the Arizona clothes brand, our catalog would need to
You know what? Give us a sec for a little detour here. Remember in science class when the teacher was telling you about what makes up light, and s/he handed out prisms, warning you not to drop them? And somebody immediately dropped one, chipping the corner off it and got in trouble and everybody laughed. (Hope that wasn’t you.) Remember what happened when you held your prism up to the light for the first time?
Much of the U.S., and probably much of the world, sees Arizona as one of those 3-for-$10 white T-shirts that Mike saw: one state, generic and bland from border to border. What we realized early on is that we wanted to hold up a prism to Arizona and display the whole spectrum of colors and people and activities; all the parts of that spectrum that you and we know are there but that other people may not see until you and we show them.
That’s what we want our catalog to do. And you know what we learned? And keep learning every day?
Our state’s got a really, really wide spectrum. Must be all that sunshine.
We had to realize we’re not just about Arizona brand clothing
For one thing, Arizona is a big state — no. 6 among the 50 in geographic size. So there’s lots of room within our borders for different stuff to be going on.
Arizona is also multicultural. Lots of room, lots of people. And while Arizona may be one of the youngest states — did we mention “48”? — some of the cultures that have called this part of the continent home had been around for a long, long time.
So yes, that gives us a lot to work with when we build our product line. But it also carries a lot of responsibility for being good representatives of our state. That’s why you’ll see Arizona brand clothing and accessories on our site that pay tribute to:
- Native heritage
- Mexican heritage
- LGBTQ pride
- First responders
- Healthcare workers
- Arizona Diamondbacks baseball
- Phoenix Suns basketball
- Arizona Coyotes hockey
- Arizona State University
- University of Arizona
- Northern Arizona University
- Grand Canyon University
- Plus the sun (of course), cactuses, canyons and cliffs, clouds, flowers, maybe a skull or two, and snakes that are perfectly harmless. Really.
And every one of those designs features somewhere on it the proud, unmistakable outlines of our state.
But we’re not just about being an Arizona clothes brand
We decided early on that just showing the good in Arizona wasn’t enough. We wanted to be doing good, too. That’s why we started the State Forty Eight Foundation — so we could use some of the money that people like you spend to show your Arizona loyalty, to make Arizona even better. Or, as we put it in the foundation’s mission statement, “... enrich and strengthen Arizona through thoughtful partnerships, inspired community action, and investment in the changemakers of tomorrow.”
The foundation does too much for us to tell you about it here, but you can find it on the site. And we hope you do because we’re really proud of the work we’re able to do, along with our partners, with the support of our customers.
So … that’s it. All of that is what we mean when we say we’re trying to be the premier Arizona clothes brand. When you get right down to it, it’s not about the clothes.
It’s about the people who wear them.