Take Five: Duck Head And The Five-Pocket Chino

Sometimes menswear buying patterns aren’t what you’d expect. Recently Bill Thomas reached out with some interesting observations. Thomas is the founder of Bills Khakis and is currently the brand director at Duck Head. He said, “The market is over 60% five-pocket chino driven at this point and favored by those over 35, while the college and prep school kids are sticking with the traditional chino.”

That’s right, the older guys want the jeans-style khaki, and the younger ones want the classic. Perhaps it’s what you’d expect after all, at least with older guys wanting to appear young and hip. I asked Thomas to elaborate, and here’s what he said:

The best I can make of it is that younger guys tend to want to identify with things they associate with their grandfather more strongly than their father. Dad is the disciplinarian, while grandad is always cool and gives me money. This lends credence to the notion that trends skip a generation, taking about 25 years to cycle back around. Trends, brands, styles are new to the third generation, whereas the second generation grew up with it and broke away. Pleats, for example, have been out for about 15 years. By 2025, a lot of guys will be wearing them again, and not just in NYC.

The rise of the five-pocket chino was influenced early on by Bills Khakis and heavily by Peter Millar, Southern Tide and Vineyard Vines over the past five years. The five-pocket style has given guys permission to dress down while still dressing well, especially when wearing a blazer. You can’t tell it’s a five-pocket under a sportcoat, so there’s something rebellious going on here. Like, “I know we can’t wear jeans here at the club, but, hell, I’m wearing jeans anyway.” With guys over 50, five-pockets offer a youthful breakaway from the old, making them feel younger and look more contemporary.

My son loves the traditional Duck Head Gold School Chino, but doesn’t have an appetite for the 1865 Pocket Jean Chino. Just not his thing. Everything I hear from store owners across the country lines up with what I’m seeing at home. Younger guys love the traditional chino. There’s my evidence. Maybe they like looking older.

Dustin Hoffman wears a five-pocket chino in All the President’s Men throughout the whole movie, and often with a blazer. I pulled it off in boarding school with Levis’ cords, quietly pushing the rules under the radar. Call it a peaceful demonstration.


Duck Head’s “1865-Pocket Chino” has a retail price of $98.50. Here are the details:

Our 1865-Pocket Chino taps Duck Head’s rich 150-year history in both spirit and design. Familiar are the signature details borrowed from our Gold School Chino to include branded buttons, leather patches, and fortifying tacks and rivets. Our 7.1-ounce cotton pinpoint canvas wears comfortably year-round with a trace of functional stretch. The clean classic fit mirrors the Gold School Chino and wears perfectly with a boot, shoe or loafer.

  • 7.1 oz stretch canvas

  • 97% cotton, 3% spandex

  • Enzyme washed

  • Classic fit (not full, not slim)

  • Iconic gold label on coin pocket

  • Nubuck leather tab

  • Antique brass rivet button

  • YKK zipper

  • Triple stitched seams

  • Drill cloth pocketing

  • Signature “Z” stich inside fly

And here’s Hoffman in All The President’s Men. You might want to make some adjustments to the rest of his outfit. — CC

28 Comments on "Take Five: Duck Head And The Five-Pocket Chino"

  1. Companies will make what sells best, and therefore it gets harder and harder to buy traditional casual clothes. In a sweatpants and painted-on yoga tights world, tan jeans are preferable. But they won;t be hanging in my closet. Not sure of what old and young mean in this story, but I am 58 and devoted to traditional khakis, blue button-downs, and weejuns or Bean blucher mocs. I keep one pair of jeans, blue not tan, for opportunities to ride a horse.

  2. Grey Flannels | May 9, 2019 at 1:10 am |

    As an older guy who has the good sense not to dress like a trend-following kid, I’m glad that traditional-cut chinos are still readily available.
    By the way, in my book, making jeans out of chino cloth doesn’t mean that those pants are “chinos”.

  3. Traditional chino Millennial checking-in.

  4. Old School Tie | May 9, 2019 at 6:26 am |

    They are novelty jeans.

  5. Poison Ivy Leaguer | May 9, 2019 at 7:51 am |

    When I was in college half a century ago we called them wheat jeans. They were considered dressier than blue jeans and less dressy than khakis.

  6. Ken Loomis | May 9, 2019 at 8:59 am |

    Thanks for the offer, but I’ll take four.

  7. Joel Skog | May 9, 2019 at 9:29 am |

    Good read, especially dressed in khakis and Nylites.

  8. billax wears 5 pockets

  9. Boop McSnoot | May 9, 2019 at 10:26 am |

    These are great pants! I’ll take 4! Ivy Style is the best site on the internet and its content is always insightful! Is that better?

    I honestly am not trying to troll with my comments, and I can’t understand why they are being deleted, simply because they are not fully positive about this product. Why have a comments section at all?

  10. I’d just like to point out the wonderful serendipity of this post: the supposed scourge of all things good in this world, Millennials, are actually the group buying the traditional chinos; certainly more than the 35 and up crowd. The next time someone wants to complain that Millennials are the reason they can’t find the clothes they’d like to buy, take a long hard look at Boomers and Gen X instead, please. Just remember, the Boomers were the ones who cast all of this stuff off in the first place.

  11. I went to college (at a large state school in the South) in the 1980’s, wearing duck head trousers most days. They were made solidly and fit the budget for an undergraduate. It amazes me to think of paying almost $100.00 per pair now.

  12. Evan Everhart | May 9, 2019 at 3:15 pm |

    Instead of blaming it on one generation or another, in its entirety, I would instead posit that we blame them individually for different facets or segments of the demise of our cohesive Western culture, and American culture in particular, in all of its manifestations. Let us say that the first stab into Caesar was delivered by the Baby Boomers, and that the veritable coupe de gras has been determinedly delivered by let us say 3/4s of the Millenial group, while a 1/4 have stood about bewailing and bemoaning the death of what they never had, or only experienced transiently as a fading after-image from a bright flare in the distance.

    Generation X while apparently, and ironically (there’s that buzz word again!) having some sort of drive, were in the end, utterly useless to society, at least as far as preservation and the rebuilding or building up of it have been concerned, and ultimately did nothing other than hold place and pace, and behave in a generally socially disruptive manner, or go quietly into the suburbs of the world with very little interest in anything but themselves, and their own soot tinted lenses inverted upon a self-centered world, how could they help but do so with their Boomer parents who made everyone else’s business but their own, their business. Sorry if I am a bit harsh, but most Generation Xers, my older brother, and cousins and friends included seem to have their eyes and world views eternally fixated upon themselves instead of upon the betterment of society, whether it’s sad-sacking and self pity over being self-made outcasts, or yuppie informed self-centeredness, it all amounts to the same. Identity politics have subdivided and undermined society’s cohesiveness, and that particularly odious gift can be laid squarely at the feet of the Baby Boomers and all of their “de/revolutions” and counter (read “anti”)-cultural movements. Just one man’s considered observations. I could be full of so much hot wind, and perhaps I’m too vehement, but I think that there is something to the course of my considerations.

    That said, I am not interested in 5 pocket khakis, and I do think that there is something to Bill’s observations. I enjoyed this article.

  13. Evan Everhart | May 9, 2019 at 3:18 pm |

    My above statements do not reflect all of each of the 3 respective groups, just general trends which to my own observations seem to be overwhelming to the point of prevalence. All are culpable, en masse, but not all individuals fit the mold.

  14. M Arthur | May 9, 2019 at 3:43 pm |

    Wow!! We are not men. We are DEVO!
    Only 5 pockets for me…jeans.

  15. Charlottesville | May 9, 2019 at 4:09 pm |

    Interesting observations on what used to be called the generation gap. I am very happy to hear that younger folks are buying traditional khakis, and can only wish that well-dressed-Grandpa style takes off. Like trad horseman JoelVau above, I have no problem with “wheat jeans,” although I probably won’t be buying any myself. For one thing, I’m not crazy about spandex in men’s clothing, but to each his own. I just bought a new-with-tags, unhemmed pair of M2 Bill’s Khakis’s on eBay and had the legs tapered to an 8″ opening with cuffs. Pretty close to perfect for my taste.

  16. Evan Everhart | May 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm |

    Charlottesville, you are a Gentleman.

    Yr khakis sound just about perfect. 🙂

  17. NaturalShoulder | May 9, 2019 at 9:33 pm |

    Pleasantly surprised to read that younger gents are opting for the traditional chino. I suppose the 5 pocket chino have their place and provide a more dressed up look then denim. I just find traditional chinos much more comfortable. We had some unseasonably cool weather in DFW tonight and I wore my Bill’s M2 with an 8 inch taper and cuffs (certainly in good company with Charlottesville).

  18. Marcantonio | May 10, 2019 at 4:19 am |

    @Evan Everhart
    You probably meant coup de grace,
    rather than “coupe de gras” (cup of fat).

  19. Paul J Dougherty | May 10, 2019 at 6:10 am |

    ‘Cup Of Fat’ is going to be the name of my new bad: we’ll play only French punk music.

  20. Evan Everhart | May 10, 2019 at 10:08 am |

    @Marcantonio: Hahahaaa! Absolutely! It’s been years since I was in French class, or since I had to correspond with any of my old business associates in France! Thanks! The spelling error turned into comedy! I almost just spit out my coffee laughing! 😀 😀 😀

    @ Paul J Dougherty: PLEASE Do! And post a link!

  21. Anony Mouse | May 10, 2019 at 11:35 am |

    I think this “good” news is actually more limited than we think. In this price category, my guess is that young guys go and buy Levis or other brand jeans. There is a lot of peer pressure on type of jeans, and Levis are certainly cheaper. If young guys are going to pay $100+ for pants, they are going to be purchasing “dress” pants.

    Old guys with more money probably like the idea of splitting formality with Duck Head jeans.

    Just my thoughts.

  22. Charlottesville | May 10, 2019 at 11:56 am |

    Thanks Evan and NaturalShoulder. And Marcantonio, thank you so much for “cup of fat.” I literally laughed out loud.

  23. MacMcConnell | May 10, 2019 at 3:52 pm |

    FYI, the 5 pocket chinos worn by Dustin Hoffman in the movie are bell bottoms. They were available at most head shops and jean stores in the late 60s and early 70s.

    I wish Duck Head all the luck and success in the world, but I don’t get the “stretch thing”.

    Also, don’t forget it was we die hard boomers that kept these famous trad shops alive since the 60s.

  24. Marcantonio | May 11, 2019 at 9:58 am |

    Evan Everhart and Charlottesville:
    Rest assured that Frenchmen produce similar things–when they’re brave enough to speak English.

  25. A lot worse: denim chinos

  26. I got a pair of the stone color. Not bad, nice light weight canvas for the summer. Vanity sizing though , I first ordered the 29 waist ( I usually wear a size 30) and it measured 15 and 1/2 across the front making it a 31 waist. I exchanged for a 28 waist which measure 14 1/2 at the waist making them a 29 waist which fit me perfectly ( They have “stretch”)

  27. Henry Contestwinner | November 14, 2019 at 5:13 pm |

    Coming next week to Selvedge & Wharf, the area’s top artisanal café/homebrew palace/performance space:
    Cabbage, Joy, & Julio: indie folk mariachi
    Cup of Fat: French-styled punk
    The Barrowdwellers: post-modern bubblegum dirges
    with special guest Heathen Voldchens, reading selections of his autobiographical fiction “My Beard, My Self”

  28. Evan Everhart,

    I agree with most of what you have to say, and would like to make an observation and a correction.

    The observation: the Baby Boomers have been, and continue to be, an enormous bloc, and as such, have squeezed out other, less numerous generations.

    The correction: most GenXer’s parents were not Boomers, but members of the preceding Silent Generation.

    I read an article recently that argued for a slightly different subcategorization, one in which the youngest Boomers and oldest GenXers were combined. The thesis and exposition were convincing, but perhaps mostly because I was born in 1965. My slightly older contemporaries are more part of my generation than they are of the Boomers’, and my similar-age cohort & I were on the edge, rather than the heart, of stereotypical GenX phenomena.

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