The Writing On The Wall

Duck Head Sponsors The Arts – BRAVO

Historic Image Lovers – here’s your wheelhouse.  Duck Head is searching for “vintage “throwback” photos with folks sporting Duck Head or even just the Duck Head look (khakis, Oxford shirt, loafers, etc.) around the time of the late 70s through the 80s.”   If Duck Head uses your picture, YOU get to be an Ivy model (unless the photo is of somebody else, then they get to).  You can email me them here and I will forward them on.

There are a few Ivy Legacy Brands – brands that have weathered the years since the Hey Day without moving into the mall next to Candy World.  A few.  Duck Head is one.

The Before Picture

Best guess,  this mural was first painted in the late 50’s.  In Georgiana, Alabama, as an ad for W.H. Morgan & Sons.  At the time, Morgan was the Duck Head retailer.  The 2010 Census reported 738 people, 249 households, and 220 families residing in the town.  I’ve not  been, but I imagine that the town hasn’t exploded since.

W.H. Morgan & Sons

Despite the population paucity, Georgiana is the birthplace of Hank Williams, Sr.  HWS posted, in his lifetime, Michael Jackson chart numbers.  55 singles that reached Billboard’s Country/Western Top Ten chart, 12 of which were Number One.

I don’t know about you all but I classify that as one seriously Ivy moustache.

And as the Ivy gods would have it, HWS was also the first Duck Head brand ambassador in 1949.  In 1949 HWS had a very good year, also releasing I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.

In 1973, Elvis covered the song in Aloha From Hawaii.  Elvis was never a Duck Head brand ambassador.

If you watch the video of Elvis singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in Aloha From Hawaii, I swear you see him mopping his brow with this very lei. Decidedly not Ivy.

Georgiana also recently raised money for a town beautification project.  Because of their connection with Duck Head, they spent some of this money on a restoration of this mural.  It came out magnificently.

The person on the ladder is part of the restoration.

JB

16 Comments on "The Writing On The Wall"

  1. Editor’s Note: I am combining comments here so people don’t have to scroll through a ton of back and forth.

    Interesting concept – “send us a picture of you wearing a garment related one of the 4,000 prior versions of our company and we will use your likeness to promote our product, which may or may not have anything to do with the original (or other 3,999 versions)”.

    I guess Duck Head has weathered the years since the Hey Day, but to imply that they have done so in the same format is false.

    Geez. How did you look in 1970? Same as today? (mic drop) – JB

    Wasn’t born. Neither was this iteration of Duck Head, or the three that proceeded it (and that’s just since 2003). But hey, take my likeness, and don’t even throw in some merchandise (made in China? The website does not disclose). Mic. Dropped.

    I think you mean, mic slipped. There is this type online who have this fever to go negative without regard for thinking things through. Not saying this is that, but if it walks like a Duck Head… (1) I actually kind of figured that if one reads between the lines. But you took my point. I hope. Things change, how is that a fault in and of itself? (2)a company does what it has to to survive. So Duck Head has gone through iterations. Big deal. So have you. (3) How do you know what the compensation is? That’s what I mean by fever. You don’t know. But you have to go neg, so you just make some up. (4) They aren’t taking a likeness, you are giving them the likeness. Get it? (5) Is there some obligation I am unaware of for a company to disclose where it’s product is or isn’t made? Wait, I can answer that. No. Again, fishing in the hope a negative Sunny gets on the hook somehow. (Bends over, pics up mic, hands it to the now hopefully educated gentleperson, in the hopes that they walk off the stage and do something nice for someone.) – JB

  2. Rake, you might want to pick that mic back up. It appears you did not have, ahem, your ducks in a row before you commented.

    If you click the “Details” button for each of their Duck Head modes you find that the Gold Glory is made in the USA. The Green Badge, Pinpoint Canvas, Corduroy, Gold School, and Performance are designated imported. There is no origin listed for the Shoreline and Organic. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Organic is made overseas with Texas-grown cotton.

    In December of 2018, a certain Christian Chensvold reported on this very website that Bill Thomas — the founder of Bill’s Khakis — was now the head duck and that the Gold Glory was made here. http://www.ivy-style.com/gloria-in-excelsis-duck-heads-gold-glory-chino.html

    “Ducks in a row…” why didn’t I think of that? Good one. – JB

  3. Well JB, I was just trying to give you something to quack about with your flock of readers and allow you to put another feather in your cap.

    Oh dear, I’m sorry. Not.

    Grateful as always to you! – JB

  4. I enjoyed the puns!

    At the risk of sounding “negative”, I think it a bit incongruent to hold Duck Head up as some Hey Day survivor (“one of a few…a few”) when many of the various fits and starts can’t be reconciled with Ivy, Prep, or anything in-between. This isn’t Onward buying J.Press, or a group buying the Andover Shop, but maybe could be Britches being reconstituted (though they are only on iteration #2). I certainly don’t begrudge a company their survival, but in reality this the story of a brand name being purchased and revived.

    I loved Bill’s Khakis when Bill Thomas was in charge. Good for them making some of the line in the US – that’s far better than most, though when I click on the details of each model, the location of manufacture isn’t specified. Does this matter? Perhaps not, but isn’t Ivy in the details?

  5. You know what, the last line is unfair. Apologies, and please feel free to remove. I’d edit if I could.

    And the mural restoration is pretty awesome.

    Well done. A person who actually reconsiders something on the internet. Would that the rest of the web had your spine. THAT is dignity. THAT is Ivy. – JB

  6. For Duck Head to refer to most of its offering as “imported” is insulting. If they were imported from Italy or the UK they would most certainly spell that out. Why point out that Gold Glory is made in the US if it is not important? I believe American companies do have an obligation to disclose where products are made. Go all in or not at all.

    Cheers,

    will

    Hi Will! It actually is a common practice. – JB

  7. There actually IS an obligation for a company to indicate when its products come from another country:

    https://www.cbp.gov/trade/rulings/informed-compliance-publications/marking-country-origin-us-imports

    Practically speaking, what this means is that if a company makes its products in the developing world, the website will often say “Imported” but the product itself will always bear the country of origin. So yeah, if you’re not manufacturing in the United States, you are required by law to disclose that on the garment itself. And if it’s made in England/Italy/Scotland/France etc. and not the developing world, that distinction is often advertised loud and clear.

    I don’t think it’s inherently bad, by the way, for companies to manufacture overseas but it becomes a bit more problematic when you’re also trying to claim your bonafides as an American company or an institution that has been around since the “heyday.”

    Hi Kent – so yeah, on the garment. That wasn’t what we were talking about. At this point, if production elsewhere is a disqualifier from being an American company, then there are very few American companies. – JB

  8. I did enjoy this, and will continue to got to Lands’ End and L.L. Bean for my khaki chinos.

  9. Love the mural. I hope the brand holds true to its heritage and bounces back. That being said I will be buying based on the product, not the promotion.

    Always a good idea sir. I will tell you this, and I catch some crap for it because they are advertisers, but I have a pair of their cords, a rust color, I get so many compliments on it is stupid. AND THEY FIT. I am rooting HUGE for Duck Head. – JB

  10. Instead of needlessly beating up an advertiser that keeps the site going, how about praising another site supporter, J.Press, for selling American-made chinos for $125 (currently on sale for under $100)? I have never owned a pair, but I assume the quality is up to snuff.

    A REALLY GOOD IDEA. – JB

  11. I have a pink shetland from Duck Head (iteration 3,731, circa 2016, maybe – made in China, definitely) that also gets compliments, JB. My local men’s shop here in the VA Piedmont used to stock Duck Head. They no longer do.

    I’ve moved back to the Shaggy Dog and will continue for the foreseeable future. That said, my local men’s shop in Maine stocks Duck Head according to their website, and will check out the Gold Glory after Memorial Day. Assume they are replacing Bill’s Khakis, which this shop sold tons of.

    Still believe some are conflating the prior history of a “company”vs. a “brand” – the story of which for the past twenty years or more has been one entity after another looking to extract value out of a logo and trademark.

    I hope that Bill and co will be successful.

  12. Charlottesville | January 27, 2022 at 11:13 am | Reply

    Hear hear, whiskeydent!

    Also, for the record, I wore all-cotton Duck Head khakis almost exclusively in the 80s when I was in school. They were hard-wearing and affordable, and half the price (or less) of the standard “dress” khakis at Alvin-Dennis in Lexington at the time. My logo-phobia, however, had me removing the label on the back with a razor blade before sending them to the laundry (with heavy starch). I also bought them a few inches too long, and had them cuffed. Unfortunately, I don’t think any photographic evidence from the era survives.

  13. Rake, I think you should consider that most Ivy brands have gone through an ownership change or two, as well as some business and quality struggles. J.Press comes to mind, as a Japanese company purchased it after years of decline.

    After putting 27 seconds of thought to it, Alden and O’Connells are the only Ivy brands that I can think of that still owned by the original family, and of course the latter stocks many of the Ivy-related brands.

    Granted, Duck Head has gone through a lot of extreme changes. However, somewhat to your company vs brand point, companies keep trying to revive it because they obviously think the brand has value.

    Agreed. – JB

  14. Obv Rake is 100% correct

  15. Well @whiskeydent, I did consider the fact that most Ivy brands have gone through ownership changes – precisely why I mentioned Onward (the Japanese company that bought J.Press). The distinction between J.Press and Duck Head is simple to me. Onward bought J.Press as an operating company. Regardless if you think J.Press’s product declined in the years prior to the Onward purchase, they were an operating entity – made goods, sold goods, etc. Further, post-purchase J.Press operated much, if not entirely the same as they did prior – save York Street and collaborations, which I would note were done in addition to their regular goods, not instead of.

    Duck Head, on the other hand, was a company that manufactured clothes. Then was a house brand for some southern retailer. Then ceased trading. Then the brand – no production facilities, or inventory – just the trademark and brand was bought. Then sold again. Then sold again.

    Clearly there are those who think the brand has value (albeit declining if purchase price is any indication) – and I hope that the current owners make a handsome return, and that Duck Head produces fine clothes. But the distinction between Duck Head and the others I mentioned seems pretty cut and dry.

  16. Henry Contestwinner | February 7, 2022 at 1:11 am | Reply

    Whoa-whoa-whoa—hold the phone! What Elvis wore in Aloha from Hawaii isn’t Ivy?

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