MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Your typical West Virginia shirt usually has something related to the university or maybe even the great outdoors on it. But one local was tired of that and decided to design shirts to represent the state of West Virginia with his own modern twist.
“I wanted something that was kind of rock and roll and kind of interesting then what was available at the time,” Brian Pickens, owner of Made in West Virginia said. “I just wanted something that was a little bit more like a band t-shirt almost for the state of West Virginia.”
Pickens’ custom apparel company started back in 2013. It was just him, a heat press and some cheap t-shirts that were sold at tailgates out of his backpack.
Since then, he’s upgraded his products and shipped them all over the country. But Pickens kept the same vision all along.
“I want to always cater to specifically very certain crowd of people here in West Virginia and abroad… that just have the same kind of mindset that they love West Virginia but they’re maybe not like in love with the kind of traditional sort of way that we’re portrayed. Like a much more kind of modern, fun way to portray West Virginia,” Pickens said.
Through his shirts, Pickens celebrates the West Virginian and Appalachian culture.
“This is West Virginia. This is the only state that is completely Appalachian,” Pickens said. “We are our own culture and it’s an awesome culture. Like it’s an incredible place to be. We have our own music, we have our own writing, we have our own way of speaking and I kind of want to celebrate that actual West Virginia and Appalachian culture just a little bit more than what it has been.”
His shirts are mostly sold online through preorders. Designs are posted for a limited amount of time on the site and if you place an order in time – it’s yours. If you miss it, better luck next time. Shirts then get printed by a local company that he partners with called Thunder Prints. Then they’re shipped out or dropped off by Pickens himself.
Pickens used to set up booths at events to sell shirts but a lot of those have been canceled because of the pandemic. Typically, he prints 100 shirts if he’s selling at a booth, but preorders prevent him from printing too many for overstock.
And if you’re looking for this year’s Christmas gift – Pickens said he might be doing a preorder for the holidays to get everyone their favorite designs.
“Visit us. I hope you like us. I can’t wait to send you some t-shirts,” Pickens said. “Look around locally for things that you might be into because there are so many craftspeople and artists in West Virginia that are making amazing things. It has really blown up in like the last five years with people kind of coming out of the woodwork and displaying their talents… and there’s a lot of us out here making stuff and really kind of trying to elevate our culture.”