People of OU: Streetwear fashion designer Michael Sana


Photo courtesy of Michael Sana

Streetwear designer Michael Sana with Detroit Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart.

Creating high-quality clothing that generates real change is designer Michael Sana’s personal mission.

In Jan 2021, Sana used his interests in sports, fashion and marketing to create Sana Detroit, a local fashion label. Since having started the brand, Sana has amassed thousands of followers, used proceeds to donate to local charities and even ran a pop up store at the Somerset Mall in Troy, MI.

Sana first began practicing graphic design, video production and photography during his high school years. Around that time, he also experimented with creating his own companies and running social media accounts. After graduating high school, Sana attended OU to pursue a degree in marketing. While on campus, he played hockey and soccer which deepened his love of sports.

He attributes his college years with helping him realize his goals saying, “I always knew I wanted to start my own company, and some of my teachers were really inspiring. I was always the kind of guy who would have rather worked than go to school but I’m very happy I did it all and I kinda miss it now.”

After graduating in 2020, Sana was inspired by his heroes Virgil Abloh and Casey Niestat to create his own viral streetwear startup.

“It started out as a fun little project. I just designed one Red Wings piece, I posted it on Instagram and said let’s start making clothes. We sold thirty shirts the first day and then thirty more another two weeks later” Sana said. He then released another piece and cemented the Sana Detroit Brand.

For Sana, his brand is not just about the product — it’s also about making an impact. Sana Detroit works with organizations like Say Play to donate ten percent of their proceeds to charity during some drops.

Say Play is a motivational learning center located in Detroit that helps underprivileged youth maintain a good grade point average and gives them a space to participate in recreational activities. The center is supported by Detroit’s major sports teams which ties Sana’s donations back into its athletic DNA. Sana also offers collaborators the ability to forgo their cut of a product and instead donate that amount.

Another core tenant of Sana Detroit is creating an experience for consumers. The focus on creating an experience goes hand in hand with quality according to Sana.

“Everything from the way the tag is cut, to the way the tag is on the shirt to the feel of the tag, to how it’s put on, it’s all part of the experience and it ups the value of the brand,” he said. “We sell the hoodies for $118 because there’s so much that goes into it, but once people start touching it and feeling it and they receive the packaging, they truly can feel justified spending that money.”

The ultimate experience for fans was Sana Detroit’s month-long residency at the Somerset Mall. Sana and his friends took three weeks to assemble a fake burger restaurant. Guests would walk in and receive a ticket number, and ordered at the counter when it was called. Their order would be processed and delivered through a carryout hole to keep with the theme.

The popularity of the event put a lot of demand on Sana.

“There was more than one night where I was at the store until 7 a.m., left at 8 then showered and came back at 9 to open up the store.”

He went on to call it, “one of the best experiences of my life, but definitely the hardest month of my life.”

You can find Michael Sana on Instagram @michaelsana13 and @sanadetroit.