This story is part of our July 2022 Young Professionals print issue. To subscribe, click here.
One of the hottest style statements you can make in Sacramento is — get this — a shirt that says “Sacramento.” Not in a cheesy or touristy way, and not even necessarily with a wry wink, these t-shirts portray the capital in a way that’s unique to the designers who sell them and the connoisseurs who wear them.
Bigger, busier California cities may have more obvious flair and flair, but Sacramento has the advantage of having an underdog, IYKYK quality (if you know, you know). The fact that it is underrated only makes its people embrace and represent the city more sincerely.
Meet the self-taught makers who create t-shirts with a referential and geographic bent, selling nostalgia, luxury, and Sacramento camp:
What if you could wear a place that lives so deep in your heart on your sleeve? East Sacramento streetwear boutique Timeless Thrills offers nostalgic and deep Sacramento cuts; T-shirts with prints of beloved Land Park donut shop Marie’s Donuts and the ’90s ARCO Arena logo are selling out fast. Tyler Wichmann, who co-owns the shop with his wife Jessica, commissions designs from a community of graphic designers, mining memorabilia for the designs. If he left an imprint in the collective memory of the community, he deserves to be printed on a t-shirt.
For Wichmann, it’s about representing the Sacramento classics of their ’90s childhood. “Growing up, my dad regularly took me to Kings games at ARCO Arena,” he says. “The same goes for Marie, riding her bike there in elementary school or college… or in the middle of the night as she got older. … They have always been part of our lives. Each design series is released on a limited, one-time basis, though the shop frequently reissues pieces in new colorways.
Some of Timeless Thrills’ bestsellers are t-shirts with “the old Kings logo when the Kings moved from Kansas City to Sacramento in the mid-’80s,” says Wichmann. The store also offers shirts and art prints of the city’s water tower on Interstate 5 with its former title of “City of Trees” (the tower now reads “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital”) ). Wishman laments, “I love that we’re the farm-to-fork capital, but they could have done something brand new. …You didn’t have to go s— on this tower that has said our city’s nickname for the past 75 years.
Determined to revive the old moniker, Wichmann took an old photo of the tower with the old slogan and printed it on t-shirts and hoodies. It is now the boutique’s signature design. He also commissioned an illustrator from Los Angeles to render the old tower as an art print; the tribute is another bestseller. Says Wichmann, “I guess I feel like if it’s on the product and it’s still there, it just lives on that way, even though it’s not physically there.”
Nine sixteen luxuries
Designer Dev Anglin is convinced that the Sacramentans have something special – “We have a lot of juice, that’s how I say it” – and he wants it to be evident the moment his customers walk into the room. With her brand Nine Sixteen Luxuries, Anglin seeks to elevate the comfort-focused styles that Californians are known for, while representing the capital. Its brand’s namesake, the Sacramento area code, is prominently printed on many pieces, and the message “This is Sac” embellishes the line’s simple crewneck sweaters and varsity jackets.
For Anglin, elevating comfort and streetwear comes down to cutting a classic bomber jacket with a subtle, graduated twist, a sleeker take on his traditionally straighter, baggier look. Another garment, which resembles a “typical Dickies jacket,” gets an “80s treatment” and is replaced with a satin fabric.
The designer applied his eye as a fashion photographer and videographer as well as his creative direction for BMW North America at the start of his career. “Obviously (the cars) have to look pristine…and things like the door panels have to be within two or three millimeters of spec,” he says, describing the influence of the excellence of the business on his clothes. Traveling across the country with the brand broadened his perspective, as he was influenced by “other metropolitan cities, creative scenes, and the way businesses are run.”
The streetwear brand is carried on Heirs of Threads, the e-commerce marketplace Anglin owns with his girlfriend Keia Kodama, as well as local stores like Getta Clue. Anglin is looking to dress everyone in Sacramento with that special “juice.” “Individuals here in Sacramento, from state workers to creatives to musicians to painters and artists, we have a different flair about us,” he says. “And I feel like (our style) needs to be elevated a bit to represent what we’re holding to the side.”
Midtown t-shirts are likely to make you smile, or at least squint, as you determine – is it a traditional-style rose and a “love mom” tattoo emblazoned with a screaming “Sacramento” in lettering? academics in blocks? Why yes. Darren Pineda, co-owner of the brand with designer Derek Murrey (also known as hip-hop artist “Blxck Mo$es”), explains that Midtown’s illustrative t-shirts are meant to be “creative and fun.”
Pineda says Midtown’s bestseller is their University of Sacramento t-shirt. The design is in Murrey’s signature cartoonish style – an anthropomorphized, smiling Tower Bridge stomps across a flower-strewn lawn wearing pink shoes and holding a smiling-faced daisy. The tee was worn by former Sacramento Kings player Tyrese Haliburton and R&B artist Nate Curry. Other designs include a more classic print of the Capital Building’s silhouette adorned with camellias and a simple “Sacramento” in varsity lettering in various contrasting color schemes.
Pineda posits that being “the city of outsiders” creates an opening for creators. “When you go to a store, like Zara, you see a piece that’s named after a city, and it’s always like Los Angeles or New York or Tokyo. You rarely see things that say Sacramento, and I think that it’s an opportunity for a lot of designers. It’s like, okay, cool. Let me start my own brand and incorporate Sacramento because we don’t see that anywhere. He adds that working with local screenprinter Garage Champs has made production much easier.
Midtown’s creations are a hit at vendor events designed for young creators, like The Bizarre and downtown brewery pop-ups Urban Roots. “I feel like the passion for the community was very minimal,” Pineda said of Sacramento a decade ago. “And now I feel like he’s grown a lot.
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