Just Ducky: Duck Head Website Finally Launches

Wed 9 Jul 2014 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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The much anticipated return of Duck Head is finally here, as the brand’s website finally features product. “Launching the site has been a huge undertaking and we are so happy it’s finally up,” director of marketing Alex Wallace told Ivy Style.

Products that will garner the most interest are the O’ Bryan pant and shorts. Both are made in the US of 8.2 ounce Cramerton twill and come in at $135 and $100 respectively.  The short has 8-inch inseam. Another short being offered, called the Nashville, has a 9-inch inseam and is made of 6-ounce brushed cotton twill with a 3 percent spandex component.

Consumers will notice that the familiar yellow duck is not being used on these trousers.  The company is looking past the 1980s, as white was the color of Duck Head’s original label. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP

Update: On Thursday morning the company left the following comment:

I wanted to address some of the comments, as we play close attention to Ivy-Style. Hope this is helpful.

1. Price: We made a conscious effort when we took over Duck Head to make sure we make the very best quality goods, whatever the cost. We didn’t think about price at the start. Initially, we were planning to make the product overseas like everyone else in the space. Then, once we began to un-cover more of the story about The O’Bryan Brothers, 1865, the Civil War, Nashville, the Duck Head story, etc we decided in order to be Authentic, we needed to make our Pants and Shirts here in the USA. Having come from the apparel world, we knew this would be very difficult, and very costly, but it is important to us to do things the right way. We made an effort to make things in the USA because its the right thing to do, its who we are, and what we believe in. If we made goods overseas, we’d make significantly more money, but its about having the brand be authentic, and to do that, we must make our pants and shirts in America. The prices we are charging are fair, and we don’t have a significant markup on them. For whoever referenced that Duck Head’s used to be $50…. They were in fact. In the early 80′s I remember buying Duck Head’s for around fifty bucks. However, I’m sure you all are familiar with inflation, and if you take inflation and calculate the difference of $50 in 1983, it would be $120 in 2014. Just FYI… We believe in American made products, and quality. We are confident our pants are the best made, and best designed, period. We can be assured of this, because we sit in the factory and watch each pair coming off the line. That comes at a premium. We make less as a company making them here, but we believe in it. I’d pay $10-$20 more for something made in the USA that is premium, and I’d hope our customers would care enough to do so also.

2. Fit: While the model we shot our pants on is in great shape, we realize that not everyone is (including any of us). Our pants are not “ball huggers”, they’ve got a great, appropriate rise, and the leg opening is generous. In our shorts for instance, the leg opening is 11″. Its not a boxy, wide leg, but its also not slim by any stretch. We want our pants to fit everyone great. We’ve done extensive testing and fitting on both guys w/ “chicken legs” and guys w/ thick legs. Another benefit of US production, we can easily alter things and we have for months to get it perfect. Our fits are great, but we have not done a good enough job on the website of letting people know that. Expect to see detailed fit comments on the site ASAP. Great feedback, and something we’re very mindful of.

3. Label: The yellow label that many people remember was only on Duck Head’s for about 15 years (10% of its lifetime). For a good period while that label was on it, the brand was owned by Goody’s. Goody’s was a discount chain dept store, and over-assorted the brand, and changed quality and moved production off-shore and the brand became a discount brand as a result. We needed people to remember the brand, but not associate it with that yellow patch, because we’re a different, and a better company now. We are not a discount brand anymore. We’re focused on quality and doing things right. I remember Duck Head from the yellow patch as well, but the brand for most of its life had a white/off-white patch. That is when the product was hand made by people here in the USA, that’s what the brand will be going forward. We may do some heritage pieces going fwd w/ the yellow label, so stay turned :)

4. Position: To be clear we are not “chasing” a Southern Market. We are who we are. This brand is a southern brand, and has the south in our DNA, its who we are and what we stand for. Should we have marketed it as a New England Sailing company, or a NYC fashion company? That’s not who we are, that’s not authentic. Personally, I don’t care if the southern market is big, is small, etc. We are a southern company, we’re in the south, so we can’t be something we’re not. We can only be who we are. If people appreciate that, and want to be a part of it, great. If they don’t, that’s ok too. We’ll always be authentic, its one of our company values and to be authentic we’ll continue to be the original southern apparel brand and made to be worn.

We have a lot of great product in the pipeline, but wanted to launch the brand “small” and do things right, before we try to offer all things to all people. We want to make great chino’s, and I know after wearing them, that we’ve got the best chino’s on the market, period. Believe me, it would be a helluva lot easier to make them overseas, charge the consumer less and make more money, but that’s not what we’re about. I realize that’s not for everyone and we’re ok with that.

Knowing there is a premium, we’ve tried hard to make every experience premium. I won’t give away any secrets, but when you purchase one of our items, the experience of opening it, is like getting a gift and one you won’t soon forget. We’re thankful for our customers, we listen to them, and they mean a lot to us. We are trying hard to get this right, and working really hard to ensure it is. Keep the comments coming.

Appreciate all the comments, we’ll keep listening.

Young Pup: York Street Fall Preview

Mon 30 Jun 2014 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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jp1

As mentioned in the last post, on Friday I attended a preview of the fall collection by York Street, the youthful line by J. Press. Here are some items, along with a few atmospheric store shots with current items and memorabilia, to succour J. Press fans anxiously awaiting a new Manhattan retail location. (Continue)

 

The Life Aquatic: Pulling Off Poolside Panache

Wed 18 Jun 2014 - Filed under: Clothes,WASPdom — Christian
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lp2For the latest issue of The Rake I was asked to meditate on the concept of poolside elegance. My starting point was the work of Slim Aarons, while my ending note was James Bond. In between are stops in Palm Beach with a few notes on WASPdom. If anything, this piece should get you thinking about a summer getaway. — CC

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The Life Aquatic:
It’s one of lifes’s nagging paradoxes: the areas surrounding the world’s most spectacular swimming pools are sartorial stages that demand stylistic panache — but with lamentably few garments. So what does a man wear while whittling away the hours next to a large well of shimmering aquamarine?

By Christian Chensvold
The Rake, issue 34

Women’s apparel is widely considered more artistic and varied than men’s, and that’s before you consider the nearly endless coiffure and cosmetic possibilities at their disposal. But dressing in masculine garb offers its own singular rewards, namely the special clothes gentlemen have worn in enclaves from which women have been historically excluded. There’s the splendor of maharajahs, caliphs and sultans, the papal pomp of the church, centuries of military splendor, and even the motley rag-tag garb of pirates, bedecked in the jewels and colorful fabrics that were the spoils of their plunder. Men have also devised special clothing for endeavors such as hunting, sailing and flying (does anything signify panache more than a white scarf flapping in an open cockpit?). There are even velvet jackets and fez-like caps specifically for the gentle act of smoking.

For another gentle act, that of lounging poolside with cocktail in hand, women clearly have the fashion edge. Their swimwear can be as modest or as risqué as they like, they can accessorize with sexy heels or laid-back sandals, silk wraps and broad-rimmed hats, oversized sunglasses and sparkling jewelry. Despite being 75 percent nude (or perhaps even because of it), women dressed for sun and water can look just as chic as for any other occasion.

But stripped of his full regalia, his authority-oozing bespoke garb with boulevardier touches like boutonnieres and spectator shoes, how’s the peacock of the species to compete when nearly everything is taken away? “Clothes make the man,” as Mark Twain said. “Naked people have little or no influence on society.” (Continue)

 

Preppy Chic: Free & Easy And Stocking Up For Summer

Mon 16 Jun 2014 - Filed under: Clothes — Christian
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stuff5

I was photographed for the latest issue of Free & Easy, which has a big feature on Allen Edmonds. They shot my Kenwood and Walden loafers, and I posed for the camera in my neighborhood. The shooter liked the American flag on the house across the street, and with that penchant for formulas characteristic of the Japanese, I was asked to hold a bag. They’d already shot my satchel, so I suggested my new golf “Sunday bag,” the one I use when I just need a half-dozen clubs. It’s a deadstock Wilson I found on eBay for a song, apparently made in Scotland and probably dating from the ’60s. I tried to look like I was waiting to be picked up for some golf practice, but the result doesn’t exact smack of verismilitude. (Continue)

 

Summer Serenade: When I Wore A Young Man’s Seersucker

Fri 13 Jun 2014 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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cs1We bring Seersucker Fest 2014 to a close with these wonderful recollections from Christopher Sharp, who spearheaded our fest.

* * *

Working on our seersucker fest reminded me of an old article in which the author finds himself staring out the window of a New England country inn on an autumn day. His only companions are a bottle of old sauterne and the ghosts of his past. He calls sauternes “memory in a glass.”

My epiphany is that seersucker has become my sauterne, with a memory in every wrinkle.

The gospel was that seersucker was to be somewhat disposable, yet my three cotton suits have been dogged companions over the years. The bill for the blue seersucker, gray seersucker and blue pincord suits, bought from Brooks Brother, is dated July, 1991. An extra pair of trousers included brought the cost up to $262.50 per outfit.

I can still picture myself at my first job wearing those suits on the sales floor of the Country Couple in Ithaca, NY, surrounded by mountains of Gitman shirts and Jacob Roberts regimental ties. It was a sartorially rich time, even if nationally independent clothing retailers were struggling.

Four years later, working for community newspaper, a swarm of media came to town for a high-profile trial. As the local reporter, I was in demand for providing background to the story. One day I met Maria Effirtimades of People magazine and offered to “show her the local color.” She took one look at me in my seersucker suit and bow tie and quipped, “You are the local color.”

I’m not sure if it is self-effacing or self-indulgent to admit that one’s dubious achievements are still one’s achievements, but I have come to the conclusion they are one and the same. For example, there’s the time I convinced French restaurateur and former manager of the Rainbow Room, Roger Bouillon, to take on the “Titanic” task of preparing the full 11-course menu from the night the pride of the White Star line went down. That has nothing to do with seersucker, but my two railroad smokers did.

Our community has a scenic railroad, and in 1995 they graciously allowed my cigar club to pollute their restored 1944 dinner car. It was on June 5th that the party made its way through the 19th-century depot en route to recreating a Lucius Beebe private-car experience. The staff newspaper photographer was shanghaied into providing photography services, and some memorable photos were the result. There is the portrait of myself at left, more hair then I knew what to do with, my face not yet wrinkled, appearing happy yet haunted in the blue seersucker suit, a white Brooks Brother’s shirt, and a dot tie from Randy Hanauer. Hidden are a pair of dandy-blowing-smoke-ring braces and WalkOver bucks. I am enjoying a La Gloria Cubana torpedo secured from a personal visit to the Little Havana factory of El Credito.

A less introspective photo (see below) was chosen by the editors of Cigar Aficionado for the autumn 1995 edition. A captured moment of ourselves standing on the railroad platform, the flag flapping in the breeze on a summer night. My friend Elliot Edwards stands next to me in a Panama hat. Summer is lived at the pitch of ice clinking in a glass. That night in the summer of ’95 — and all others since — seem to have evaporated into smoke, laughter and memory.

I tried on my seersucker suits this year and neither the pants nor jackets fit. This sad news corresponded with a recent call from Elliot. He told me in the charming and breezy way in which he announces big life changes, “that it was hell getting old” and that he was “moving south.” Upon hearing this my mind flashed back to when we first met, which was at a cigar dinner in an old bank building. The conversation had started to lag at my table, and over the din of the other diners you could hear a gregarious man holding court, his table enthralled by his story. At the appropriate time I went over and introduced myself to the man wearing the blue blazer and Weejuns without socks. He put me immediately at ease, saying that he was glad I had come over because he’d wanted to tell me he liked my suit. He then got a distant, wistful look, and what he said next has echoed from that cavernous bank to my present memory: “I had a seersucker suit like that, when I was a younger man… ”

It was Damon Runyon who suggested that seersucker reconciles the rich and the poor. For myself, I have come to believe that it reconciles the old and young. In my case, however, they are the same person, as now I too can say, “I had a seersucker suit like that, when I was a younger man.” — CHRISTOPHER SHARP (Continue)

 
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