Khaki Project Update: Do-It-Yourself And Made In China Options


Regular readers will recall the khaki project we had in development last year. It sparked palpable enthusiasm here and in other parts of the Internet, but our partner was Bills Khakis, which developed business problems and shelved the project.

Well there are a couple of updates. First off, last week Pedro Mendes, who runs the Canada-based blog The Hogtown Rake, posted about custom trousers he had made after being inspired by our project and the above image. Obviously this option is not for the frugal. Here are his results:



In the meantime, I was recently contacted by a small, independent clothier who had also gotten wind of the idea of producing trousers with a full rise and tapered leg. He said he was already doing something similar and would be interested in tweaking it to cater to our readership. The downsides are that the pant would be from someone unknown to you who has nothing to do with trad, the pants would run $175, and they would be made in China (albeit made well).

I told him I was very skeptical but wanted to run it by you guys anyway. I think we would all prefer made in the USA from Bills, a brand we know, for $145 than made in China for $175 from a brand we don’t know. After all, probably the most cost-effective option is to just take the full-rise trousers you already own and have your tailor alter them.

What would you guys think of broaching the idea with Duck Head? Ivy Style already has a relationship with the brand as it is an advertiser. If this was to be more of a premium-priced dress khaki, how would you feel about the logo in the back?

Although I’m writing this post in jeans that are hardly full rise, I’m extra bully lately on full-rise trousers as they’re so much more comfortable. I picked up some new flannels from J. Press and got rid of some mid-rise ones from RL, despite the fine fabric. — CC

37 Comments on "Khaki Project Update: Do-It-Yourself And Made In China Options"

  1. Duck head would be great sans logo.

    What about Hertling? If they are going to be more of a premium, I would start there instead of Duck Head. Maybe get a new advertiser to boot.


  2. Epaulet offers a high-rise tapered leg trouser through Hertling for $210 landed, available in a wide range of fabrics and made to order. These are pleated, however.

    If you could get together a sizable guaranteed order (and were willing to accept a minimal profit margin) I would be willing to bet that Hertling could do the project for a shade under $200. $175 for Chinese production sounds unreasonable to me.

  3. NaturalShoulder | March 3, 2016 at 1:38 pm |

    I am not in favor of the Made in China option and the logo on the Duckhead option is a deal killer for me. I would definitely pay for a Hertling made offering

  4. I am pretty sure the Duck Head logo is nothing a seam ripper can’t readily dispatch.

  5. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes with Duckhead. My [probably too] numerous posts about them on this blog should bear out the reasons for my enthusiasm: i) USA-made fabric and construction; ii) a quality product; iii) a heritage brand (albeit Southern rather than broadly-trad, but still); iv) excellent customer service (including dealing with a flub where they could have taken advantage of the customer – me – to cut cost, but did not); and v) leave the iconic yellow label to the current lineup, and leave it off the new project.

    Although this begs the question: what *should* the logo look like for these new pants? (there’s your next reader submission contest right there, CC)

  6. Charlottesville | March 3, 2016 at 2:34 pm |

    I agree with those who say no to the label, iconic or not. However, C. Ray is correct about the ease of removal. 30 or more years ago, I bought Duckheads regularly, had them cuffed, removed the label with a razor-sharp pocket knife, and wore them for casual occasions as well as dress (or at least as dressy as khakis and a blazer can be). A single laundering removed all traces of the thread holes where the label had been, much like it does with collar-pin holes in an oxford cloth shirt. The deal-breaker logos for me are those that are embroidered directly onto the fabric itself and therefore can’t be removed, at least not easily.

  7. @Paul

    I concur. American fabric and manufacture. No outer logo please.


  8. Leave off the name tag and I’m in. They make the product, so they can leave out the label. It’s not like the material grows with the label already in it.

  9. i 100% support the duck head idea, including the patch. As long as it can be removed, it really shouldn’t bother anyone. It’d be no more work than taking the tacks out of jacket vents.

  10. Throwing in my two cents here: CC, would you have any sort of sample party in NYC, where members of the Ivy Style community could see the first samples and weigh in on the design? Heck, maybe even try them on for a quick minute?…..I know we all have different body shapes and different hopes for these Trad Pants. I’m throwing my hat into the ring if you need a logo for these khakis, too.

  11. Louis Tully | March 3, 2016 at 4:00 pm |

    What about H. Freeman?

  12. Good ideas from everyone.

  13. I understand the call for logo-less clothing, but it really shouldn’t matter whether a dime sized duck head adorns one’s back right pocket or not. In the grand scheme, having a full rise, tapered leg, american-made chino is already a holy grail. Let’s not let perfection be the enemy of good.

    I would support the Duck Head product.

    Furthermore, I still mourn the death of the Ivy-Style jacket of year’s past. If my memory serves, the idea was to have Southwick make a small batch of jackets with all the Ivy details – I’m not sure what derailed the idea but I suggest reintroducing it as a follow-up to the chinos.

  14. Dutch Uncle | March 3, 2016 at 4:57 pm |

    The most interesting thing about this post was introducing us to the Hogtown Rake.
    Full-rise chinos? Why look any further than LL Bean and Lands’ End.
    We’re talking about chinos: no more and no less than the gentleman’s jeans.

  15. I think guys are more interested in a dress khaki, and if it gets off the ground, the chance to have other fabrics made on the same pattern.

    • Dress pants whether wool or cotton, don’t have tags and/or logos attached to their outsides!!!

  16. Anonymous | March 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm |

    Pass on the logo. More importantly, no more made in China at any price, please.

  17. I would reach out to Bills again. The founder has been on a bit of an email apology campaign as of late due to the insufferable customer service and quality problems caused by selling the company. This would be a good opportunity for Bills to prove to their core clientele they have not completely lost the plot.

  18. Jim Bourg | March 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm |

    There is no more Bill’s Khakis as we knew it. However there a a quality domestic manufacturer of quality khakis that in fact made some pants for Bill’s from time to time under contract. They use a number of different fabrics and can, of course, get most anything if available. They offer three different “fits” ala Bill’s and can, and do, make special models for accounts, forward or reverse pleats, western, etc. all at prices lower than Bill’s on comparable pants.

  19. Is there any reason Jack Donnelly is not considered for this endeavor? I’ve heard positive things about their American-made chinos. With some describing them as “slim” and “full-rise.” I’m sure it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for them to add another variation to their current line up.

  20. I’ve lately been in touch with Gregg (who runs JD). He may be up for this, but he’s far smaller than BK or DH, who are large enough to do something like this.

  21. If you could get this going with USA made pants that come in under $150/pair, I imagine that you could attract a reasonably large crowd. I, for one, would be in.

  22. Henry Contestwinner | March 4, 2016 at 2:28 am |

    I’m very happy to see that you’re not letting this die.

    No label would be best, but if the label were removable with a seam ripper, then that would be OK.

    Two bigger issues: sizes and colors. I would hope that the size would go as far down as 30 and that there would be odd sizes (31, 33, etc.) as well. Having odd sizes is especially important at the small end. As for color, please offer both khaki and stone.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops.

  23. CC:
    Again, my suggestion from the original story, why not look into Hardwick’s in Tennessee if you want American?

  24. I think what we are looking for already exists. I purchased the Hertling Wilson model, which has a rise of 11.5″, is 9.5″ at the knee, and is 8″ at the leg opening. Made in Brooklyn too.

    I phoned Harrison Limited, asked them about their khakis, and they sent me the olive color for $175. Very well made, very comfortable. But if there were other choices available that would be a good thing too.

  25. Jim Bourg: Tell us more…

  26. Christian – you’re doing it wrong.

    You should be getting in touch with manufacturers, not vendors.

    Contact Andi Sapoff at SSEW/English.

    Alternately, contact CharDan a/k/a All American Khakis.

    I have SSEW make me high rise pants all the time. CharDan makes private label khakis for O’Connell’s and Beau Ties Ltd. They have also done work for J. Press and I speculate that they manufacture for Jack Donnelly as well.

    Nobody in your target audience is going to pay $175 for Chinese made pants, no matter how good they are.

    Feel free to e-mail me if you would like to discuss further.

  27. When is a designer going to realize there are plenty of us (I think) who want an off the rack plain front chino pre-cuffed?! The “rule” is so obvious–pain front = plain hemmed bottoms—to get cuffs you must wear pleats. To each his/her own, but I cannot stand this. I am sure marketing studies must show “we” are in the minority.

  28. Henry Contestwinner | March 4, 2016 at 9:45 pm |

    AEV—uh, I mean VEA—has a capital idea! I’m certain that Frederick Egan Castleberry, Esq., would be able to provide high-quality “trouserings” to your specifications. They might even come with two legs each!

  29. Hardwick is a great idea!

  30. Any business that is willing to do a niche product does not need to apply their logo. There will be MUCH more brand awareness through the blogs, forums and facebook.

    And I fully agree with L-field – go directly with manufacturers.

  31. John Montgomery | March 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm |

    What high rise do you recommend as of today if I want to grab a pair and have them tapered myself?

  32. @John, good question. Any brands that otherwise (less the tapered leg) make great high rise trousers that commenters here recommend?

  33. J Press, O’Connell’s, and if you’re 34+ Lands’ End Long Rise non-iron (but only mildly so) dress chinos

  34. Michael Brady | September 17, 2017 at 10:52 am |

    There is little about the khaki trouser shown above to cause me to want it. The square tab extension waistband must be a Canadian thing; and at that price there should be at least watch pocket. I’d say “no”.

    What about a program through Jack Donnelly?

  35. I’m in, as long as they are free of any logos and are fashioned after dress pants.

  36. >>>>….and then what happened to the Khaki Project?

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