Truble Pics + Seun Olubodun

Seun Olubodun—the Duke of Dukes [men's fashion]

Recently I have become acquainted with a talented young designer with an extremely diverse background. I really love his dog, Duke (photo above). So, it is my privilege to introduce you to Seun Olubodun, the Duke of Dukes!

Tell me, Seun, a little about yourself?

I was born in Nigeria and grew up in Newcastle, England, and Philadelphia, US. Growing up in three different continents gave me a unique perspective on different places/cultures and helped me interact with people from all types of different backgrounds. My parents are in the medical profession, so we’ve moved more than most.

Where do you live now?

Currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I’ve lived for about 12 years now. Finished high school in the suburbs and went to University here also. I decided to stay because most of my friends are here; I am very familiar with the entire city and I have many local business contacts.

How did your career in fashion design begin?

I actually took a strange route to this profession as I was working in IT only about 2 years ago with no clue about the fashion industry at all. I read about and started to follow a t-shirt designer based in Boston who was just a young kid that started printing t-shirts and had turned it into a multimillion-dollar business over time. I had the good fortune of meeting him and, after realizing that this was something I could really get into as opposed to sitting in front of a computer all day, I spent a few months doing the research, quit my job, and started the line (just over a year ago).

What exactly struck you in your research?

In my research I realized that most of the small independent lines that were being launched catered to very different demographics than the one I fit into. It was either loud Ed Hardy/Affliction-style graphics or really hipster Urban Outfitter type brands. But nothing was catering to young professional (a little preppy) guys that wanted something fresher or edgier than the mall brands that currently catered to them like Polo, Banana Republic, J-Crew.

So what sets you apart from them?

Inspiration for the company is drawn from my experiences growing up in the UK, Africa, and the United States; but the line is overwhelmingly influenced by time spent growing up in England and the stuff I learned in school. Designs for the first few lines of printed apparel focus heavily on imagery and references from world history—interesting historical figures/events, motivational imagery, social classes, royalty, and my English bulldog, who the company is named after (The Duke).

How would you sum up your “look”?

Casual wear for the thinking man.

What is your opinion of the menswear scene in Philadelphia?

There isn’t much of a scene. But there are a lot of young professionals constantly moving into the city, and there really isn’t a hometown men’s brand that caters to them, so the market is really wide open.

What has your impact been on the menswear scene?

Being one of the only local men’s lines helps a lot in getting noticed and, because Philly can be a tough crowd, I have to make sure my garments, designs, branding, and everything else can hold up to the sometimes over-the-top standards people have in the city. Trying to live up to those standards from the beginning can be very helpful, though, because you have to push yourself to do better work every time. Just in the past year, I’ve been able to get on the national radar because the line has been embraced by people locally and they’ve helped me spread the word like no other. There are now other lines popping up locally and, soon enough, we will have a collection of good brands catering to guys in the city.

How does Philadelphia stand up against its northern neighbor, New York?

People try to compare Philadelphia to New York because we are so close, but the reality is that the two cities are very different. I feel as though people here are more real and have no time for the pretentiousness you sometimes find in the NYC fashion scene. People here have other things to occupy them, so dressing up and strutting around takes a back seat, whereas that is what the NYC fashion world is all about. I think the goal is to take a little bit of that over-done NYC style and pass it on to the people in Philly in a casual way and that’s all we need.

Photos Copyright Seun Olubodun.

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