By JoAnn Greco
Although he was born in England, there’s no doubt that Seun Olubodun loves Philadelphia. After all, one of the most popular T-shirt designs at Duke & Winston, his Rittenhouse Square boutique, sports a graphic inspired by a vintage Phillies emblem. Still, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Take his brand’s name and its playful logo, each of which reference a pair of English bulldogs—his own genial canine companion (Duke) and a certain iconic politician (Winston Churchill)—of distinctive mien.
Or, consider his distinct preference for the understated and avowed avoidance of the flashy. “We’re a little less trend-driven,” Olubodun confirms. “Our T-shirts will still be relevant years from now.”
A techie with a degree from Temple University, he started Duke & Winston six years ago after growing disenchanted with his job at a web design firm. Noticing the popularity of graphic tees, he thought he could fill a niche. “There was a type of 30-something guy who wasn’t getting a lot of attention from Philadelphia retailers,” he says. “Everything was either corporate or hip-hop.”
Now, Duke & Winston has lines for women, kids and even pets (a no-brainer, given that the brand’s namesake is often found sitting at the shop’s entrance). And Olubodun’s love of things vintage has spawned a secondary business that has him curating and selling a quirky assemblage of 19th-century British and American antiques and furniture.
This sideline—along with his interest in fashion, retail and restaurant design—keeps Olubodun ever-vigilant for what’s hot in the City of Brotherly Love. Here, he shares the places that inspire him most.
Loews Magazine: What are some of your favorite local places to browse?
Seun Olubodun: I love walking through Freeman’s auction [house] to look for knickknacks that will appeal to my customers who want authentic furniture and unique items with a story. For men, that might mean a 19th-century globe or a paper cutter from the 1920s, while women really like utility items, like old crates they can use in their kitchens to display spices.
LM: Philadelphia’s clothing stores are so diverse and interesting. Which ones do you like?
SO: United By Blue in Old City is cool. We actually share a graphic designer and I love the quality of their shirts, which they cut and sew. Plus, they have a great coffee shop up front—what a genius idea.
LM: Speaking of coffee shops, where do you eat?
SO: I usually stick close to the store, and one place I go to constantly is Di Bruno Bros. Everyone thinks of it as a great place to shop, which it is—it’s known for its crazy selection of cheeses—but they also make awesome sandwiches for lunch.
LM: What about restaurants?
SO: I’ve been spending a lot of time at Crow & the Pitcher. It was started by a protege of the chef Georges Perrier, and you can always see [Perrier] sitting at the bar. I really like the aesthetic there. It’s similar to Duke & Winston, with the found objects.
LM: Where do you go to relax?
SO: I have a lot of friends who are musicians, and I like to watch them perform at Time, a great jazz place on Sansom Street.
LM: How would you spend your ideal weekend?
SO: I’m usually too busy at the store, so I might just take a walk around Rittenhouse Square. I like being in the center of things, and there’s so much to do and such a diversity of people there.
LM: What is one place in town you would recommend to a visitor?
SO: I love Reading Terminal Market and all of the food options there. Beiler’s, the Amish doughnut place [in the market], is worth waiting in line for—the jelly or bacon doughnuts are pretty amazing.
LM: And what about visitors that have brought their dogs along?
SO: Whenever there’s an Eagles or Phillies game showing on the outdoor screen at The Piazza in Northern Liberties, people come from all over the city to watch and hang out with their dogs.
Paws Around Town
Wander through Philadelphia and you just might catch Duke & Winston’s Seun Olubodun and his bulldog, Duke, in some of their favorite haunts. The City of Brotherly Love also happens to have a lot of love for canine companions, with pet-friendly accommodations, restaurants and shops that make pups’ visits just as enjoyable as their human counterparts’. Here are just some of the dog-approved destinations around Philly.
Rittenhouse Square: The historic green space is a popular gathering spot for people and leashed pets. The park is surrounded by dog-friendly businesses, such as Rouge (rouge98.com) and Tavern 17 (tavern17restaurant.com), two eateries that offer water bowls and alfresco seating for those dining with four-legged friends.
Doggie Style: Canines can enjoy a shopping spree at any one of Doggie Style’s locations around Philadelphia. The shops carry all the basics in addition to grooming services; Doggie Style also partners with local rescue groups for in-store pet adoptions. (doggiestylepets.com)
Loews Philadelphia Hotel: The Loews Loves Pets program has made Loews a pet owner’s dream come true. With a small additional cost, dogs (and cats) are loaned beds, bowls, leashes and collars, in addition to a map of dog-walking routes, vets and pet shops. (loewshotels.com)