I have worn a Columbia ballcap to Columbia before with predictable results. I have now worn Duck Head khakis to a cigar room on Madison Avenue, and gotten unpredictable results.
If you are from parts south you might be more familiar with Duck Head. The company has everything we love here, including starting as a small business born of a really good idea. It is not one that would have occurred to me but that probably only adds to its credibility. Two brothers, George and Joe O’Bryan, are maybe/maybe not in an army tent in the rain. Or the wind. And it maybe dawns on them that this fabric protects the most vulnerable (the sleeping) from the elements. They connect dots that make all the sense in the world – this fabric needs to be used to protect vulnerables from the elements. And they arrive at pants.
Genius, right? It gets better. They get contracted to make uniforms for World War II. What’s not to love?
As a mentor of mine once told me, business begets business and in the late 70’s a VP of Sales there hits Ole Miss with khakis and they catch fire. Southern Ivy. Duck Head is a 150+ year old brand, and if you drink beer with one of those synthetic sleeves around it to keep it cool, you have the perfect setting for the predictable. Or fishing, of course, or tailgating off the back of your SUV, on a lake for sure (Ducks, man, come on), or just on the porch.
You get the picture.
So when I got Duck Head khakis, there were no blanks to fill in. Until I got Duck Head khakis. THE PACKAGING is not fishing khakis. Packaging is symbolism (no one who is using tent fabric for pants really believes tissue is protecting anything), and this packaging symbolizes that you just got a product that is on par with any solid Ivy product. I was surprised, I dunno, I was expecting them to be wrapped in a beer koozie. Then I took them out.
Ok, this company knows what they are doing. EVERYTHING – the stitching, the buttons (I am not kidding, I would buy this stuff for the buttons), the lines, the ratios – the pants have HEMP for chrissakes – was equal to or better than any other khakis I have or had. Bill’s. Bean. Polo. Brooks. But better. They rise!!! They actually sit on my waist, not my hips. Fellas, these khakis ACTUALLY FIT. There are a few guys on the FB group who know my rant about no new khakis that fit and recommend (seriously) a kilt. And I almost went for it. Until Duck Head.
I got shirts, cords, and a pullover. Everything was consistent. The quality stands out. If you remember companies that actually cared about what they make – imagine that, but with the resources of a larger company, so you aren’t paying $300 for anything. That is Duck Head. A small company laser focused on doing a few things right with the resources of a large company so that they are not priced out of any market.
Here’s the website. Full disclosure, I haven’t tried some of their offerings. The polos, probably not my jam (I am wary of anything that has the word Performance in it, but that is just me). I’m not a mask guy, but I am even less of a Gaiter guy. But if you are one, you can get them there. But the things I did get – shirts and pants and the Spivey ¼ Pullover (there is gonna be a separate review of these, but that Pullover is not like anything you have owned, and I was not sold until I was sold, it is a unique piece) were all outstanding. Duck Head checks every box. Durability. Value. Impact on the environment. Trad fit and style.
I smoke cigars on Madison Avenue with a fairly critical group of guys. Finance, mostly, successful and discerning, all. When I was looking at the pieces I got, I thought, “Ok, you wanna go outside? Let’s go OUTSIDE.” So I wore the khakis to a meeting. These are not even sessions one wears khakis to. That was the real surprise.
“Nice khakis,” I actually heard. Tough room, and that comment was as rare as, well, khakis that fit and are quality.
As I say, I am going to review some pieces specifically in the next few days, but THIS COMPANY IS A FIND. I wouldn’t have thought that a southern company with army tent fabric in its DNA would become a go-to for Trad and Ivy. And it is now on the top of the list.