It’s been a little over a year since Duck Head relaunched. More specifically, a relaunch of a relaunch. It’s fair to say that they finally hit the nail on the head, and are starting to making their mark on the #menswear scene again. Personally, I’m really happy about it, and I believe that most of you are. Duck Head is a personal issue for a lot of us, judging by the passion in the comments in multiple blog posts. Red Clay Soul was founded with an old pair of Duck Heads as part of the inspiration. The big labels are still a point of discussion, and I think the idea of selling these pants at $40 a piece has finally passed. The bottom line is this: Duck Head makes a great pair of chinos at a good price point.
I’ve gotten to know Bill Thomas over the past couple years, and have really enjoyed our conversations about the brand, which has recharged my passion for the pants. I have a pair of the Gold School chinos which I wear quite a bit, and I have a pair of the Gold Glory chinos, which are the USA made pants that I would call a ‘heritage’ nod to the old WWII officer’s pants.
I reached out to Bill about doing a check-in post, and he was all about it. Safe to say that things are on the up and up:
How would you describe your Duck Head journey over the last year?
It took some time to figure out our formula and lock in on our direction. In Spring of 2018, we were at a crawl. By Fall, we started to experience traction, so we’re at a brisk walk right now. By year end, we should be off and running. Reestablishing the better specialty retail channels where Duck Head was sold during its hay day is our priority. Rebuilding confidence with these trading partners is a process and we are making measurable progress in this regard.
It seems that this launch of Duck Head has finally hit the mark. How many stores are you in these days?
The number of stores is growing weekly. About 50 right now. We would like to add another 50 by summer, but we are being selective in this effort.
A little buzz in Garden & Gun
Some previous launches weren’t as successful…what made this one work?
The right product at the right price. The most challenging aspect of relaunching Duck Head has been how to reinterpret the brand today. In plain terms, identifying what made Duck Head work when it was working and figuring out how to execute that today. It was a conscious decision to re-introduce the brand within the context of how people remember it… quality chinos at a good value. “Value” is relative term. Quality is not. The bar on quality has risen significantly over the past 25 years. Electing to meet that standard comes at a cost. $89.50 is on the high end for some, but it’s an opening price point through the specialty markets we are targeting. We respect those who have expressed desire for something that costs less. The customer is always right.
Bill and The Colonel. Two good people…
It seems that the pendulum is swinging back to a more traditional style. How do you see Duck Head fitting into that equation?
Some call it traditional, others classic. We call it timeless. Today’s expression of Duck Head is with the deepest respect to the brand’s prolific 154 year history. You would be amazed how many times the logo has been “updated” over the years. We leaned heavily on the 1990 Duck Head. Retailers have been surprised that Duck Head is selling to both their younger customers who are new to the brand, and their older customers who wore it back when they were in college. It’s fun to find a product that fathers and sons can agree on!
Deciding on labels…
What do we have to look forward to this Spring?
Spring 2019 brings two significant new product introductions: 1) The “Gold School” Chino Short! The fabric, style and make is all the same as our chino. No corners cut. We paneled specialty retailers to set our inseam at 9”. A shorter inseam is in the works. 2) In March, we will debut our 1865-Pocket Chino. It’s cut from a year-round weight 7.1 oz pebbled canvas. A heavier 9.5 oz. field weight canvas will follow for Fall. The addition of the 5-Pocket model contemporizes Duck Head and completes our assortment. We are extremely excited about this line up!
There you have it. What say you? Have you gotten back on board with Duck Head?