On our last post a commenter mentioned the Southern retailer Parisian carrying Duck Head. Here’s a 1992 commercial highlighting the Duck Head brand. — CS
Some time later today, according to the timer counting down on its website, Duck Head will relaunch. The brand has its genesis in the postwar workwear market, and when I say postwar, I mean the War Between the States. “For a preppy Southern college guy in the 1980s,” writes Eileen Glanton in a November, 2000 Forbes article, “Duck Head Apparel khakis were as indispensable as a pair of worn Top-siders and a pink Polo shirt.”
Brothers and Civil War veterans George and Joe O’Bryan started Duck Head in 1865, buying army surplus duck canvas tenting material which they repurposed for work pants and shirts. The business would become known as O’Bryan Brothers Manufacturing Company, and operated out of Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1892 the brothers attempted to trademark the word “duck,” but it was already in common use, even among those who didn’t hunt. Undaunted, they took inspiration from their sporting roots and registered the trademark Duck Head in 1906. The company turned out hardy vests, coats, pants and overalls as they entered the new century. The company would become a leading contract maker for the government during the Second World War, turning out over five million garments. After the war Duck Head returned to the civilian workwear market. It embraced country music, becoming a sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry and hitching their wagon to Hank Williams’ rising star.
The question one might ask is how and why did Duck Head did became a preppy staple? “The duck is the most beloved of all totems,” writes Lisa Birnbach in “The Official Preppy Handbook,” and as true as that may be, Duck Head khakis were born of one’s man foresight.
In 1978 a textile mill operator was trying to unload 60,000 yards of unwanted cotton khaki material. The operator approached Dave Baseheart of O’Bryan Brothers with his problematic material. Baseheart said, “They offered me a price and I bought it. I did not know what I was going to do with it.” Baseheart’s solution was to use an old workwear pattern, run up some khakis and slap on the now iconic yellow mallard duck label. He convinced a store in Oxford near the Ole Miss campus to buy 12 pairs, and they sold out in three days. (Continue)
Today’s post comes via another reader tip. While last time it was budget OCBDs, this time it’s something a little more discretionary: regimental-striped pajamas from the English brand Derek Rose. Price converted is $236, plus shipping to the US.
This article from the DR website manages to work in a non sequitur reference to “Take Ivy.” Well, English style and the Ivy League Look are close cousins, after all. — CC
A reader recently alerted us to the $25 oxford shirts at Target. Surprisingly, they feature a rear collar button. And with their tailored fit, low price and apparently smaller collar, they may prove a viable option for impecunious young trads, perhaps of the student variety. Kudos to Target for offering a bit of Main Street Ivy for the masses. — CC
A few days ago over at Golf Style I interviewed Bill Thomas from Bills Khakis, one of our longtime sponsors. Those of you who play or who are interested in this man committed to US manfacturing can check it out here.
The brand has grown so much beyond khakis that you wonder if they’re ever going to change their name. Here are are few highlights from the new spring collection. (Continue)
Associate editor Christopher Sharp follows up on our last post, a slideshow on the Brown engineering department, with these late ’60s recruitment ads from Brown’s college newspaper.
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While perusing the archives of a Brown University student newspaper, I found myself venturing where most traditionalists dare not tread: the late ’60s.
My intent was to investigate how the former captains of cool, the campus haberdashers, navigated the choppy waters of the counter culture. Before long, however, I was distracted by advertisements for Tiny Tim albums and lost myself in pondering how great it would have been to have attended the Cream concert the paper was promoting. Although I never got back on track, I discovered some advertisements that speak not only to their time, but also to ours.
The first advertisement I encountered was for Gant shirts. Rendered in an illustration style associated with the ’60s, the figure is serene in his buttondown shirt as he lights his briar pipe:
With this image fresh in my mind, a few pages later I was struck by another ad featuring a young man smoking a pipe. Still modern in style, the image of a second smoker also conveys a sense of ease. His pipe, buttondown and rep tie, however, are juxtaposed with state of the art computer equipment. Guess the advertiser. IBM? Rockwell Aerospace? Bell Labs? Nope, the National Security Agency (see top illustration).