Who has the best burger in the city? Thanks to new lifestyle brand Weldun, those who have a stake in the game (or should we say steak?) can pledge loyalty to their favorite city burgers in the same way sports fans claim their teams — by wearing them on their chests.
A sizzling start
Weldun (pronounced “well done,” as in the phrase that makes red meat lovers around the globe cringe) is a new apparel and lifestyle brand founded by Carly Berlin and inspired by the city’s best burgers. Berlin, an artist who specializes in black-and-white drawing, found herself continuously creating little, line drawings of a few famous New York burgers and thought it might make for a good business. “There wasn’t really any outlet to celebrate the culinary world in fashion,” she says.
Set to launch this Thursday Weldun will sell two styles of unisex T-shirts — a short, boxy version and a long, oversized version — with one of Berlin’s burger drawings featured on the left side of the chest, or just above the heart. The artist and founder wanted the line to fully embrace New York’s culinary scene but avoided making the burgers so prominent that the shirts were no longer fashionable. “They celebrate food,” says Berlin, “but in an understated way.”
Each drawing is slightly different and reflects the signature burger served at a corresponding restaurant. The 4 Charles Prime Rib-inspired option, for example, emphasizes the West Village joint’s trademark knife piercing the burger, while the Minetta drawing includes the Tavern’s famously thin French fries. But as Weldun is currently unaffiliated with any of its influencing restaurants, the names of each do not appear on the shirts. It’s this detail, or rather missing detail, that Berlin believes will feed into the New York burger scene’s subculture. “Rather than slapping the name on a T-shirt, it’s more this idea of ‘if you know, you know,’” the founder says.
Notably, 10 percent of each purchase of the $32 shirts will be donated to The Food Bank for New York City, with whom Weldun has forged a partnership. “As someone who loves food and thinks about food all the time,” Berlin says, “it was impossible not to think about the many people who can’t put a meal on the table every night.”
The #1 combo
It’s no coincidence that the brand will launch on Valentine’s Day; after all, Weldun was conceived from a love of burgers. With this in mind, the brand will produce a series of video interviews with well-known and influential New Yorkers, appropriately dubbed the “Lovers Series.” In each, Berlin will share a burger and a beer with a leader of the food, art, wellness or fashion industry and will discuss all things New York City, and of course, burgers. These interview subjects, the Weldun founder notes, “are not necessarily always New Yorkers but are always lovers of New York.” The brand will conduct three to four interviews for the series every month, releasing clips of each video on its social media and posting the full interviews on the Weldun website.
Customers and fans can expect to see the first video later this week and will spot many familiar faces thereafter. The ultimate “Lovers Series” guest though? “It’s become this mission to get Gigi Hadid,” says Berlin, and it seems the brand’s hunger won’t be satiated until it scores an interview with the famed burger-loving New York model herself.
Hot off the grill
Weldun currently offers customers seven New York restaurant-inspired burger options to choose from: in addition to the Minetta Tavern and 4 Charles Prime Rib-influenced drawings, there is a J.G. Melon, which includes the restaurant’s signature pickle chips, a Peter Luger Steakhouse, a Corner Bistro and a Raoul’s. There is also, of course, a vegan option, which features the word “VEGAN” sandwiched between two buns.
“People are already asking ‘what about this restaurant? What about this one?’” says the founder. Berlin says that she will likely add at least two more New York burgers to the Weldun menu in the next six months and will undoubtedly go beyond T-shirts to sell hats, sweatshirts, and the like. Ideally, though, she would like to expand to other cities down the line, as well.
Everything about Weldun is a celebration of burgers, and the packaging is no exception. Much like the dining experience at any of the brand’s celebrated restaurants, receiving your sizzling hot, juicy burger is the best part. Each shirt arrives in a custom Weldun cardboard burger box, not unlike the takeout options utilized by restaurants around the country, and comes with a signature green guest check that will immediately transport you to the burger joints and diners of yesteryear. Those who order the 4 Charles-inspired shirt will also receive a single white glove to reflect the way the New York restaurant serves its famous burger.
With its Valentine’s Day launch, Weldun will offer 15 percent off to those who order in the next week, using the code “WELDUNLOVERS” at checkout.