How It All Started
DLH Clothing was created in the fall of 2014 by Mike and Sarah Smíšek, after a simple conversation on their couch. They wanted to create a line of apparel that celebrated the pride they had for Duluth without being touristy or gimmicky. “Within an hour we had a name and a rough idea for a logo.” Similar to a good friend’s nickname, using the abbreviation DLH puts the focus of the brand on the spirit and feeling of the Twin Ports instead of the word ‘Duluth’.
Mike also started Šek Design, here in Duluth, where he further developed his graphic design skills. A rough draft for a logo was created within an hour after the idea for the company sprouted. "The logo is primarily inspired by the hillside and its buildings which gradually descend to meet the shores of Lake Superior. The overall shape of the logo hints at northern Minnesota’s ‘arrowhead’ region, which includes the beautiful north shore,” explained Mike. Extensive creative thinking and inspiration from local structures, landscapes and characteristics of Duluth is what makes DLH Clothing special.
Stories Between the Lines
Each item produced encompasses an aspect of Duluth, from the steam that rises from the streets, to a map of Duluth shaped into the great state of Minnesota. Each shirt has its own story that is told from the point of view of a Duluthian. The cleverness of their products is what makes them stand out. The brand projects "inside jokes" that only people who live in Duluth or those who know the culture will understand. Simply put, "It's more fun to us when there's more depth."
For the Smíšek's, this company is a way for others to show off a piece of the Northland and wear that hometown pride feeling. The passion, heart, and uniqueness that flows through their company is apparent in everything they do. The brand lives and breathes the life of a Duluthian and immerses itself in the culture. Sarah talks about the down-home aspect of the company, "If we say, 'go to a concert and wear your favorite t-shirt' we're going to be at that concert." They don't suggest things to do or see just because they think you should, they suggest activities because they too are enjoying the same things. Those who are loyal to the brand appreciate the realness, authenticity, and participation in the community that is intertwined into the company.
Brainstorming new ideas, pushing the limits, and challenging the creative mind is what motivates the Smíšek's to deliver a one of a kind brand experience. New designs take time and putting together the perfect combination to represent Duluth with a deeper meaning behind the print means that product ideas are always next in line for production.
Where Can You Find DLH Clothing?
You can shop online or in store at their location above the Electric Fetus in Downtown Duluth. You can also stop by any of these ten retailers and pick up your very own local sweatshirt, t-shirt, camp mug, or whatever else may catch your eye:
- Duluth Coffee Company
- Electric Fetus
- Golly G
- Inn on Lake Superior
- Little Neetchers
- Spirit Bay
- Vikre Distillery
Represent Duluth everywhere you go with DLH Clothing!