How many Seahawks does it take to sew a shirt?
Surprisingly, just one rather dapper one: Gibran Hamdan. The former NFL quarterback launched his sportswear brand Alial Fital (named after his parents) in his Minnesota apartment in 2010, recently relocating to downtown Seattle. His polos are worn by some of the country's top athletes, and for us mere mortals they're actually pretty stylish. Below we pass the proverbial ball around with Hamdan to find out what makes the line such a touchdown. (Is that enough football innuendo?)

Image via alialfital.com

Shop Talk: What neighborhood is your studio in?
Hamdan: My wife Jenny and I just moved to Seattle and Alial Fital was fortunate to move into a building right on the edge of Belltown and the Downtown core. In the early 1900s the space was used as the horse stables/parking lot for the Bon Marche deptartment store.
Being downtown the biggest influence on my business has been the vibe of Pike Place Market. The ideals that many of the successful vendors have focused on—growing organically, intense focus on the quality of the product, and personalized service—are essential for us moving forward.

What is your earliest memory of designing? 
I have always been an artist at heart. My dad Latif (Fital in Alial Fital) would always promote my artistic endeavors. So much so that if I had a bad football game he'd say, "You should just go be an artist." While I certainly started my design life with the drawings, paintings, and photography of my youth, the real designing began when I used Jenny's sewing machine to develop the first Alial Fital prototype. 

What do you do to get yourself in a creative or productive headspace when you're feeling stuck?
I really enjoy traveling; whether it be a flight or a drive away from my usual surroundings, seeing other parts of the country and world really stimulates my creative juices. Actually a recent trip to Joshua Tree was not only invigorating, but inspired the J. Tree dress polo shirt. 

Check out Alial Fital's new collection of women's polos with styling suggestions from the brand.
Image: Alial Fital

Five things you can't work without:
Next to traveling I am most inspired by music. It keeps up the momentum.
Photoshop is an essential tool for the website, email marketing, and presenting our products.
My Nikon D5000 camera
Being dressed well: I certainly can work when I'm not dressed well, but I'm sort of a throwback in that I feel that I perform better when I'm dressed sharp.
Our production team: We produce 100 percent of our goods in the US. I try to remember on a daily basis of where our product comes from and how it gets to the customer.
 

What is your favorite thing about your studio? 
I'm lucky to have great employees and a buddy, Alan, who works next door. For the first two years of my business I was a one man show, but ever since I brought on my current team and Alan moved in it's improved me as a designer and entrepreneur. My team helps so much in the day to day operations which has freed me to focus more on what I feel I excel in. And Alan has become a great friend, happy hour attender, and advice-giver. In all seriousness, it's good to have a little fun and they have improved the fun-factor at work immensely. 

Where can we find your polos, and where would you like us to be able to find your polos?
All my designs are available at alialfital.com. I've built our American-made brand from the ground up specifically as an e-commerce business model, and I wouldn't want it any other way. We've turned down some stores that have wanted to carry us for a myriad of reasons, but mostly becasue the ability to deliver our product directly to consumers, with no middle man, really appeals to me. I am really intent on producing a first class product that's made domestically and delivering it to our customers in a personal and thoughtful manner.