Ivy Anywhere.

As an aside, 36 30 is the pant size of kings. Just saying.

I have worn a Columbia ballcap to Columbia before with predictable results.  I have now worn Duck Head khakis to a cigar room on Madison Avenue, and gotten unpredictable results.

If you are from parts south you might be more familiar with Duck Head.  The company has everything we love here, including starting as a small business born of a really good idea.  It is not one that would have occurred to me but that probably only adds to its credibility.  Two brothers, George and Joe O’Bryan, are maybe/maybe not in an army tent in the rain.  Or the wind.  And it maybe dawns on them that this fabric protects the most vulnerable (the sleeping) from the elements.   They connect dots that make all the sense in the world – this fabric needs to be used to protect vulnerables from the elements.  And they arrive at pants.

Here’s a tent from 1863, just two years prior.

Genius, right?  It gets better.  They get contracted to make uniforms for World War II.  What’s not to love?

As a mentor of mine once told me, business begets business and in the late 70’s a VP of Sales there hits Ole Miss with khakis and they catch fire.   Southern Ivy.  Duck Head is a 150+ year old brand, and if you drink beer with one of those synthetic sleeves around it to keep it cool, you have the perfect setting for the predictable.  Or fishing, of course, or tailgating off the back of your SUV, on a lake for sure (Ducks, man, come on), or just on the porch.

University of Mississipi, where Duck Head re-emerged as the southern Ivy/prep pant of choice.

You get the picture.

So when I got Duck Head khakis, there were no blanks to fill in.  Until I got Duck Head khakis.  THE PACKAGING is not fishing khakis.   Packaging is symbolism (no one who is using tent fabric for pants really believes tissue is protecting anything), and this packaging symbolizes that you just got a product that is on par with any solid Ivy product.  I was surprised, I dunno, I was expecting them to be wrapped in a beer koozie.  Then I took them out.

Here are the pants I got. As I say, I will do a full review, but man, they fit.

Ok, this company knows what they are doing.  EVERYTHING – the stitching, the buttons (I am not kidding, I would buy this stuff for the buttons), the lines, the ratios – the pants have HEMP for chrissakes – was equal to or better than any other khakis I have or had.  Bill’s.  Bean.  Polo.  Brooks.  But better.  They rise!!!  They actually sit on my waist, not my hips.  Fellas, these khakis ACTUALLY FIT.   There are a few guys on the FB  group who know my rant about no new khakis that fit and recommend (seriously) a kilt.  And I almost went for it. Until Duck Head.

I got shirts, cords, and a pullover.  Everything was consistent.  The quality stands out.  If you remember companies that actually cared about what they make – imagine that, but with the resources of a larger company, so you aren’t paying $300 for anything.  That is Duck Head.  A small company laser focused on doing a few things right with the resources of a large company so that they are not priced out of any market.

Here’s the website.  Full disclosure, I haven’t tried some of their offerings.  The polos, probably not my jam (I am wary of anything that has the word Performance in it, but that is just me).   I’m not a mask guy, but I am even less of a Gaiter guy.  But if you are one, you can get them there.  But the things I did get – shirts and pants and the Spivey ¼ Pullover (there is gonna be a separate review of these, but that Pullover is not like anything you have owned, and I was not sold until I was sold, it is a unique piece) were all outstanding.  Duck Head checks every box.  Durability.  Value. Impact on the environment.  Trad fit and style.

I smoke cigars on Madison Avenue with a fairly critical group of guys.  Finance, mostly, successful and discerning, all.  When I was looking at the pieces I got, I thought, “Ok, you wanna go outside?  Let’s go OUTSIDE.”    So I wore the khakis to a meeting.  These are not even sessions one wears khakis to.  That was the real surprise.

The pants I am talking about. When I stood up, know where they were? Around my waist. I don’t think anyone needs to know I have hips, let alone have my pants accentuate same.

“Nice khakis,” I actually heard.  Tough room, and that comment was as rare as, well, khakis that fit and are quality.

As I say, I am going to review some pieces specifically in the next few days, but THIS COMPANY IS A FIND.  I wouldn’t have thought that a southern company with army tent fabric in its DNA would become a go-to for Trad and Ivy.  And it is now on the top of the list.

28 Comments on "Ivy Anywhere."

  1. Quack.

  2. Glad to hear that Duck Head is back. Seems like this is iteration 2,000. One quibble – Southern Ivy is of course a misnomer, particularly as applied to Mississippi. Faulkner aside, hardly an academic powerhouse of a state (even compared with some of their neighbors).

    Regional Ivy refers the adoption and adaptation of Ivy elements to an area and its denizens other than, well, eight campuses. You get it, right? – JB

  3. Used to wear 501s for some occasions. No longer the case. Duck Head has completely replaced denim denim my closet. Have some Gold Schools and Green Badges. Also own some of their shorts for summers here in the Old Dominion.

  4. Super post. Great Duck Head memories from the 80s. Their max 11 inch rise now for size 36 khakis, however, is of concern. The comment that they easily sit at waist pleasantly surprised me. But this post motivates me to try a pair.

    An observation about the post, non related to Duck Heads, though, was the inclusion of a comment “for crissakes” along with yesterday’s post about newsmen including “for the love of god.”. As a Christ follower myself, and one, as all, created by God, I do not understand the, let’s say ‘slang’ giving the benefit of the doubt, use of the holy terms, especially in light of earlier posts designed to be inclusive of all readers. I come from a background in politics and, even there, was not often faced, even in conversation, with such ‘slang.’ And in print it seems even more purposeful usage than in common oral conversation. Not sure if others agree or if I am alone in this opinion.

    But love the Duck Heads. Thanks for the post.

  5. I’ll look forward to learning in subsequent posts *which* model khaki you purchased.

  6. Draw full of their 7” and 9” shorts. Love ‘em.

  7. Isn’t Bill of Bill’s Khakis running Duck Head these days?

    Could very well be! – JB

  8. Charlottesville | October 13, 2021 at 12:12 pm |

    J.B. – May I ask which model you bought, and do they have an alterable waistband? For the last decade, I have been wearing Bill’s M-2 classic all-cotton version which has an alterable waistband, on-seam pockets and the perfect weight fabric for my taste. I have not found anything else that fits as well for me, but as they are no longer readily available, I am open to other alternatives.

    I first discovered Duck Head khakis in the 80s when I was in school, and I would buy them several inches too long so they could be cuffed. I would also carefully remove the sewn on exterior tag with a razor blade. Presto: “dress” khaki’s to wear with a blazer for roughly half the price of Corbin or Berle.

    Hi! Gold School Chino. The waistband is not alterable. I wore them with a Blazer the day of the picture in the post – they were perfect. I was a Bill’s guy for a long time – same quality here. The weight on the ones I got is a little lighter than you might like, look at the other styles for a heavier weight. I didn’t get them, but I would imagine the quality is the same across the board, and I would definitely stand by, and in, the pair I have. 🙂 Also didn’t mention but I got the cords. Equally fantastic. – JB

  9. Excellent sales job,JB.
    I just ordered a couple of pair.
    One for the desert and one for apres surf wear.
    Trust.

    Wait, apres surf? Are we brothers? – JB

  10. Mais oui, mon frere, certainment, JB.
    We exchanged emails this past August, both agreeing Teslas are Ivy-Style.
    I also sent you photos of surfing La Saladita.

    ABSOLUTELY – didn’t connect the dots! – JB

  11. PocketSquare | October 13, 2021 at 3:19 pm |

    In my opinion Duckhead is a slightly better make then say dockers. They are not on par with the quality of Bills Khakis.

  12. michael powell | October 13, 2021 at 3:26 pm |

    These khakis actually fit? Well they don’t fit ME. The Ducks stop at size 44. Bill’s used to go up to a size 50. I buy my new old stock 50s on Ebay (at a SUBSTANTIAL savings).

    Ok, they don’t fit every single person on earth. Apologies? – JB

  13. I ordered a pair from them a few years ago in their so called trimmer model.
    They were much too baggy on me. I may like trad, or in my case trad inspired
    clothes, eg. side vents, but I do not have a trad butt. They were returned.

  14. Howard Lewis | October 13, 2021 at 5:24 pm |

    Dear sir,
    As an alumni of Ole Miss, I take great exception to your remark about the academic integrity of my alma mater! In the south, Sir, we have fought duels over such a remark!
    Go Rebels…:)

  15. whiskeydent | October 13, 2021 at 5:35 pm |

    Confirmed. Bill Thomas of Bill’s Khakis is involved with Duck Head.
    https://mr-mag.com/bill-thomas-joins-oxford-industries-for-duck-head-relaunch/

  16. Good evening, Howard Lewis. You, yourself are an alumnus of Ole Miss. You and your old roommate(s) are alumni. A female graduate is an alumna, and two or more of them are alumnae.

  17. Charlottesville | October 13, 2021 at 8:29 pm |

    Thank you, J.B.

    Paul – Per Mr. Burton: Gold School Chino. I hope all is well in Annapolis, as the autumn weather begins its return. It is almost, but not quite, time for tweeds here again. Let us all know what you think if you take the plunge on a pair of Duck Heads.

  18. @Anonymous, you beat me to it.

    @Howard Lewis, lolz.

    Glad to hear Bill Thomas is involved with Duck Head. Bill’s khakis is a shadow of its former self. Confident that Bill will focus on quality.

  19. I wore Duck Head nearly head to toe as a grade schooler and kept it up till I graduated from high school. This was in South Georgia. In college I wore the same kind of clothes, but the brand changed from DH to RL because by that time I was raiding my uncle’s closet–which was an entire room devoted to clothes. Made it easy to borrow stuff that wouldn’t immediately be missed. The Duck Head of today seems more like Onward Reserve. I’m glad JB’s khakis fit so well but I’ll stick with Bills.

  20. @michael powell & Rake

    Can no longer buy Bills M1s on the company site in waist sizes larger than 37. Still, the waistband is alterable; you can get your 37s to fit in the waist like 39s. On eBay the best selection of Bills is found here: https://www.ebay.com/str/bigdogsales21?_bkw=Bills. I’m in no way affiliated with the seller, by the way, but I’ve bought several pairs of M1s from him.

  21. Thanks for the link, J.G. I’m partial to the M3 and the seller has plenty.

  22. JB–I am quite puzzled by your opening sentence. I assume you are referring to Columbia University but when you say you wore a Columbia ballcap “to Columbia,” does that mean on the campus? And what were the “predictable results” and why were they predictable? Thanks for clarifying.

    Hi – yes, to Columbia University. And the predictable results were that the cap fit in. The way the Duck Head pants fit in in a Madison Avenue cigar room. Which I wouldn’t have thought. – JB

  23. @Rake

    You’re very welcome. Hope you find some M3s you like.

  24. Charlottesville: glad to hear from you! We had a 2-week stretch of glorious Fall weather here in Annapolis, but some humidity seems to have crept back in lately. US Powerboat Show was last week; the sailboat show is just around the corner!

    And yes – when I acquire a pair of these new pants (based on JB’s glowing review), I think I will then have a truly historic collection: I’ll have a copy of every iteration of Duck Heads from about 1987 to the present day. And of course I’ll be happy to share my thoughts on the latest-&-greatest!

  25. Thanks for expanding on that, JB. When I was a student at Columbia in pre-ballcap times, if anyone wore a hat, it was likely a beret.

  26. I used to buy them from Dumas on King Street in Charleston in the 80s. With bluchers and an OCBD they were my uniform when not in my El Cid uniform.

  27. @JDV,
    Thanks for pointing out to JB that not all of us are casual with The Lord’s name.
    Best, LJW

  28. … I will say it again. ONE of us went to seminary. – JB

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