Yesterday Duck Head updated its dormant Facebook page with the announcement that it will return — once again — this fall. The most recent owners burned through their investment capital at a rapid pace with, among other things, the most lavish booth at the New York trade show.
If I understand correctly, some of the remaining team was able to secure the trademark from the ashes and vowed to go on.
Duck Head managed to hang on to 26,000 followers on Facebook, and they reacted to the news of its return with two main questions: will the clothing be made in the USA and will it be as expensive as the last time around.
The brand’s answers to the questions were vague:
We are committed to making the best quality product no matter where that is in the world.
We are working on creating the best quality product possible and our prices will be determined by this high standard.
Which lead to mildly snarky comments, along the lines of “translation: no,” for being made in the US, and “translation: yes” for being premium priced.
One person summed up the era of the savvy shopper thusly: “Buying a brand name has gone by the wayside. Especially when quality is concerned.”
Duck Head said that its relaunch will be solely focused on chinos. — CC
What ever happened to Jack Donnelly?
Off-topic, but relevant: Since the post announcing the podcast, Ivy Style is no longer playing nice with Reeder. I don’t know if this is intentional or incidental, but it poses a major impediment to reading…
WordPress updated this morning and that’s probably what caused the change. Can you better explain what you’re using (is Reeder spelled correctly?) so we can investigate?
My nostalgia/fetish with Duck Head has been well-chronicled (by me) on Ivy Style, but even I am starting to feel a little bit whip-sawed by these guys. (that the US-made khakis I previously paid $100+ for are now available online from Amazon and SteinMart for $35 hasn’t helped)
Oh, and last I heard from Jack Donnelly the founder had been beset by health matters. He said he was fine now and hoped to get back to building the brand up.
I went on their FB page a year or so ago after finding a couple of DH polos on the deep discount rack at my local men’s shop. Saw a few people complaining that they hadn’t paid their vendors. The polos are a thin material, but it works to have something light on hot Louisiana days. Well worth the $19/each I paid for them but certainly not worth the $70 or whatever they were asking for full retail.
Reeder is a mobile RSS reader that I use to manage my Feedly account. Some blogs, depending on the hosting platform and admin settings, display only a snippet, but I’m not even seeing that for Ivy Style. Sometimes, images can be an issue, but that’s never been the case for me with Ivy Style. Let me know, here or by email, if I can provide any further info, and thanks again!
Blame the cost of benefits (business owners pay) for American workers, which means blame healthcare costs. Which means blame…
If insurance/benefits weren’t so expensive, lots of stuff would still be made in America –at a reasonable price.
And to that end, blame the lawyers. Wish we could go back to the good old days of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.
meh……hard to care about a middling brand that blew its chance at a relaunch.
Focus on chinos? Take a page out of Bonobos business plan.
@ IMissChristopherHitchens (who doesn’t?) – As a high-school student in a culturally Southern region of a border state in the late 1980s, Duck Head WERE khakis and there was nothing middling about them at all compared to what was generally available.at the time. They were both an overnight sensation and a revelation displacing even PRL almost entirely at my school.
While I am not that optimistic about this re-re-launch either, I take the avowed focus on chinos only to be a good sign as it was trying to morph the success of a solid, iconic product into a lifestyle brand that did label in the 1990s.
@ Paul – I don’t suppose that you have any of your original Duck Head khakis from the 1980s left to offer-up a comparison between them and today’s niche chinos lest we allow the rose colored glasses of nostalgia to influence us?
It’s worth noting what the company has written in its Facebook “About” Section:
“Returning this Fall, the new Duck Head is rooted in history but has evolved to fit a modern lifestyle. It’s a modern interpretation born from classic inspiration.”
And from that, I’m skeptical.
I can’t decide whether that’s classic P.R. B.S. or classic frontier gibberish.
Good Blazing Saddles reference. I think if everybody made things the old way, people would buy it. BB, Duck Head, RL, Ray-Ban etc al.
J Press too.
If “Made In The USA” translates to “expensive” why aren’t Fraternity Collection shirts (made in Columbia MS) not as expensive as many shirts made in the USA (or even made in Malaysia)?
The Duck Head brand was purchased by Oxford Industries from Prospect Brands earlier this year. Oxford Industries = Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, Southern Tide and Lanier Apparel.
@ sacksuit – I would like to agree with you – really I would – but I just can’t. I think you underestimate the monumental level of ignorance of, and cultivated indifference to, any classical notions of “the good life” present in society today. As a culture we have embraced, nay – fetishized, a lowest common denominator ugliness and crass commercialism for far too long to realistically hope for any restoration.
Don’t believe me? Look around – for example, when young women stop trying to one-up other young women in terms of what they perceive it is that (admittedly low-t) men find attractive, the jig is up.
As aside, somebody really should do for the history of 20th century style and fashion what Tom Wolfe did for art with The Painted Word…
I think the challenge for these companies is to be true to the niche Trad market — in stye and quality — while trying to attract new customers. That’s the reason we get inane “classic yet modern” PR and ad copy from so many of these brands. And that’s the reason we get a lot of ersatz Trad from the logo-driven “Vineyard Tides” brands.
Personally, I never cared for Duck Head. To my eye, their pants looked like they flared at the bottom and, for some reason, the fit made a lot of guys look dumpy. Maybe it’s just me. I like khakis that hearken back to the original military-inspired style (as CC has written about).
I meant to type style, not stye. Grrr.
Glad I’m not the only alpha male around here who can’t stand how low t beta fags tastes have been taken over by The cultural Marxist attraction to out of shape women. We need more fat shaming and more real men who aren’t afraid to take what they want.
Anyhoo, I have one pair of (admittedly) modern Duck Head chinos, and they’re “just fine”. I’d wear them mowing the lawn or for other gardening jobs, otherwise they’ve been relegated to the “mufti department”. I’m happy wearing Cordings of Picadilly’s chinos. Trim-fitting, high-rise, and made of robust cotton drill. Suspender/braces buttons in place if that’s your thing, and they hold a crease very well for an all-cotton trouser. The only downside is the button fly, which is a pet peeve for me but might not be for others.
@ Eric Twardzik – Shaming? Take it from an old guy when he says that there is no need for all that. All one has to do to make a personal,positive stand against the very real and corrosive things you mention is to cultivate an understanding/appreciation of subjective vs objective, fact vs truth and live accordingly – come what may…
Which is not to say that if a friend of yours is keeping you out of the good joints by wearing shorts all the time that he hasn’t just earned his new nick-name.
Of course, if you absolutely insist upon fat-shaming someone “naši” like Erika Elfwencrona, be my guest – just send her my way when you are through.
@ terryoreilly75 – Cordings of Picadilly’s? Button fly? Braces buttons? As someone for whom a zip-fly on chinos is a pet peeve, it looks like I have finally found a worthy replacement for my ancient PRL/RRL button-fly chinos. Cheers!
Come back when you’re fully redpilled. There is no inbetween. You’re either a cuck or you’re not.
@Vladimir: indeed I do have some old 80s versions for comparison (although I also fully admit that my rose colored glasses for this kind of stuff are firmly in place)
Old: stiff when new; rough-finish cloth; stove-pipe straight leg; conservative, utilitarian style and detailing (almost like Dickies); a blended fabric which prevents shrinking.
New: softer (but not soft) when new; a more substantial all-cotton fabric; nubbier than the old version; 100% cotton; have noticed some not-insignificant shrinking; more of a fitted cut than the old; more subtle detailing.
Verdict: I’ll take the old over the new. And, nostalgia-based or not, they look the way I think they’re “supposed” to look on me.
Suspenders on khakis, to me, is tantamount to Alden long wings with a Foghat undershirt.
Informing people that your an alpha male proves the contrary. Discourtesy, especially toward women, brings home the point.
@ Paul – Very many thanks for that! Your rundown confirms what I remember the classic 1980s Duck Head fit and finish as being like (though had I forgotten that they were blended) and serves as a painful reminder to me of just how right they were for my younger self as well. Pity that anyone taking on the brand today feels that they need to “improve” upon that.
@ Eric Twardzik – Ah, to be young once again and able to dismiss decades of hard-won experience with such Olympian impunity! Tell you what – you get back to me when you have stopped hard-headedly theorizing in terms of false dichotomies and have made a solid start at the business of living. A dirty business to be sure (if done right) but one which beats the alternative any day…
@ sacksuit – Please don’t say that as I’ve always have had a rather high opinion of how good woven leather braces can look with brushed chinos worn with tweed/tattersall and country shoes. Solid burgundy tie, of course…
“Overpriced Dickie’s” was my first impression when I ran across Duck Head in the 80s. Never saw anything that particularly recommended them, except for the whacking great label, which let the cool HS kids signal to one another.
Right on, brother! Why, the last woman I clubbed and dragged into my mancave had the temerity, the GALL to notify the cops.
@ NCJack – My God! You mean I, I, I, was cool!? Honestly though, out in the sticks and starved for anything better than PRL (which had that rather odd cut at the time) from Famous-Barr and Dillard’s, you have no idea what a revelation they were.
I love that quote about “rooted” and “evolving”, etc. You could use that one for clothes, boats, fluid transport systems, eyeball surgery….. ANYTHING.
Just my opinion on the suspenders.
Duckheads, flat front, cuffed and heavily starched, boxy BMW, red Solo cups with Heineken, The Squeeze’s Black Coffee in Bed and bonfires on the beach. Great memories of the 80s.
#NCJack and Vladimir: I fully admit that the brand and its label are a fetish for me, as they evoke a very specific time and place (1987, Southside Virginia, Widespread Panic, etc.) that are near and dear to my heart. To paraphrase Sydney Pollack’s character from the movie ‘Michael Clayton’, god forbid they weren’t actually as good as I remember! They really weren’t that high-quality, nor very expensive, but they had meaning to me and even more so now. Which is why I spent too much money on the re-boot last year. They were fine trousers, just not the original.
Your obsession now makes perfect sense. For me several years earlier, it was cowboy cut Wranglers or billowy, starched-up khakis with roper boots or beat-up topsiders. The music was Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, Delbert McClinton, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, a young Stevie Ray, and many more. Oh, the trouble we got into in late-70’s and early-80’s Austin.
I’m no marketing man, but it seems to me you can sell a whole lot of ice to Eskimos if you tie your product into your consumer’s formative years …
I think it’s being done as we speak. I would buy a Lord Jeff sweater right now.
My sticks were REALLY sticks, but we were brand conscious as hell, this in the mid-60s. Funny thing is that no one wore khakis ; those were work and hunting pants. We wore Corbin tropical wool, or as near to them as we could find and/or afford, to school and on dates. Jeans were for playing ball or doing weekend yardwork.
Comments left by the company on their Instagram say that Duck Head will do button down shirts, and possibly tennis (polo) shirts.
It seems they are just starting with chinos. There will also be no physical store.