Polite Worldwide is only two years old, and yet when its founders Christian and Tavia Azzinaro casually list the people who have sported the label it includes all of our favorite artists (plus the best-dressed F-1 driver to grace the track).
To give you a taste, these are just some of the names which have worn their colorful designs: Drake, Rihanna, Bad Bunny, Justin Bieber, Kid Cudi, Giveon, Lewis Hamilton, Harry Styles, Post Malone, J Balvin... and it doesn't stop there.
For a label entering the fashion space, having any of those names support in the early stages is an impressive feat, but having them all is virtually unheard of. And it's certainly not something that has happened through luck.
Before starting Polite, both of its founders worked closely with Kanye West. Christian supported with creative and production for his label's Pastelle and YEEZY while Tavia worked more on the business side for YEEZY, roles which have loosely remained when starting Polite. As well as their time with Ye, they have long backgrounds in the field of fashion, with Christian even helping to create the merchandise for Virgil Abloh’s DJ collective Been Trill.
"Having collective experiences in design, fashion, and business helped us to land where we wanted to be with our own identity in the market," explains Christian and Tavia Azzinaro.
When it became time for them to start their own brand, they had spent enough time in the industry to know what they wanted to bring to it — and so Polite was born.
This is a long way from being a stab in the dark to see what would happen if they make some cool designs, however, their ability to translate a distinctly laidback Californian aesthetic into highly desirable products has certainly helped.
The brand first started by creating colorful jewelry complete with pearls and multi-colored gems handcrafted in its L.A. studio. Arriving as more men started experimenting with jewelry, it was these playful designs that would lead the likes of Big Sean and Justin Bieber to hit them up and have custom pieces made.
By combining luxury, sustainability, and whimsical designs, the pair has created a rare recipe in the fine jewelry space which has proved to be a hit. Adding biodegradable sunglasses and a ready-to-wear line to its roster, the label has continued to use that same recipe in everything it does.
"Progressing into clothing was a part of our plan," the founders explain. "Our jewelry and clothes complement each other because when paired together they create an original style that combines relaxed luxury with the more playful incorporation of art through our graphics and vibrant colors."
For fans of Euphoria, that includes the oversized t-shirt you could find Hunter Schafer (AKA Jules Vaughn) wearing in season 2.
Featuring a mountainscape with a sunset and the word "utopia" printed on top, Christian draws the illustration directly onto the fabric of the long sleeve top, making each one unique and limited by nature.
Graphics such as these have become key to its ready-to-wear offerings and they are all drawn by Christian, although some are digitalized and added to the clothing using the brand's unique printing and dye processes which use non-toxic and botanical dyes.
This is not a traditional process, but that is by design. "It feels more special to know you can take part in having something that has so much detail and originality rather than an item that has been mass-produced," says Christian and Tavia.
And it's a way of working which supports its commitment to operating sustainably. Every part of its production process is considered to ensure that products are released with the lowest carbon footprint possible, from not operating within the seasonal fashion calendar to creating all of its clothing from hemp.
"It's definitely been challenging to have this goal and work to push boundaries within a very traditional supply chain that hasn't yet been built to accommodate the approach that we have taken to really look at what it means to be sustainable, eco-friendly, and as conscious as possible," the founders say.
Starting a new brand from the ground up is already a challenge, and doing it in an environmentally responsible way only adds more complexities.
We've previously written about streetwear's sustainability problem, with non-stop hype-driven drops made from virgin materials being a central premise for many of the most coveted brands in the space. Polite's colorful selection of graphic-driven garments and playfully jewelry are offering a genuine alternative to that — although admittedly at a slightly more premium price point to most.
"We are excited about the potential to disrupt and work through challenges to find alternatives that are much more supportive of the environment rather than destructive," the couple behind the brand says, as they hope that more of the industry follows in its footsteps.
It's an outdated stereotype that sustainable brands only create bland basics and the LA-based duo is walking proof of that. "Our brand has a very playful energy about it. You can have fun while being kind, considerate, and taking extra steps to be ethical about production," the founders say. "We design in a way that compliments the product to be made with this integrity."
Although still in its inception, the pair are busy making their plans to expand reality. In our conversation, they mention a possible homeware line, big collaborations which are in the pipeline, and a scheme to help provide services to the wider design community.
Regardless of what direction it pushes in next, you can rest assured that Polite will not dilute its mission. As Christian and Tavia say, "polite in itself is a mood, an attitude that we are dedicated to protecting and preserving. It is about well-mannered behavior and what it actually means to be polite, to have positive energy and a lifestyle that is uplifted."