05 May 2008

Southern Trad



If ever there was an icon of Southern Trad in the 80's it has to be Duck Heads. This unique brand is found only in the southeast. Popular in Georgia, Virginia and The Carolinas. Cheap, good quality and as cool as cool could be. These trousers hit my college campus in the early 80's and raged in popularity until the early 90's when there was a change in company ownership. And sure enough, some smart guy decided customers wouldn't notice the move off shore to Costa Rica, El Salvador and China. The Olive Ducks are circa 1989-90. Notice the detail of the sewing.

Still, what's not to like for $2.98? They retail for $40 but they're always on sale. I found the Breton Reds at a Goody's outlet. Best worn with cuffs and without socks. Blucher's if you have them and a button down oxford with surcingle belt. Grab a red plastic SOLO cup full of cheap beer and you're suddenly 21 again. Like shrimp and grits...they're all about comfort. Even though I always liked 'em starched.

24 comments:

Richard said...

I remember the brand Duck Head as a kid, and then the label disappeared. Unfortunately, the brand reappeared at clothing stores called Goody's, a retail chain that sells very poor quality items. However, you are correct, you can't beat 2.98!

tintin said...

I still have some old Ducks from the late 80s that were made in the US. They're getting thin but have held up well. A shame about the company. I did some research and discovered there was lots of greed, screwing over of veteran salesmen, closing the GA factory for cheap labor, etc.

But I bet if you could get a picture of George Clooney (the southern conection) wearing these things this brand would have a huge comeback. Probably national. Hell, probably international. Where's my PR buddy, Mr Close Lean? There's gold in these hills.

tintin said...

Make that a Continous Lean...

A Continuous Lean said...

Great post. I've purchased a lot of Ducks on eBay and have forwarded directly to Clooney. Expect to see them in the September GQ. I wouldn't be surprised if Mickey Drexler and his private equity buddies comes calling to get in on the action...

longwing said...

I remember those duck heads. I don't think I ever had them in red or green though. They may have made some mistakes, but competing against GAP khakis in the late '80s would not have been a picnic. I remember duck head as being lower end than berle and such. That put them face to face with the GAP. Not a bad place to be now, but in 1988 it had to suck.

Tucker said...

Bought 'em three or four pair at a time at the Buckhead Men's Shop, usually at the beginning of the school year. By spring they were crapped out and cut into shorts. Cheap but serviceable.

tintin said...

Atlanta was huge for Ducks. They were made just down the road. My girlfriend was from Columbus, GA and she turned me onto them.

A few years after college I moved from NYC to DC and was re-introduced at Britches of Georgetown. They had piles of 'em on tables. It seemed like every waiter in Georgetown wore them.

Longwing is correct. The Olive's are from the late 80's early 90's and I never saw the Reds until I saw them a week ago. I bought about 6 pr in stone, khaki, dark brown, navy and red. They're going to NY where they're still an oddity.

Anonymous said...

Before the "Prep Revival" Duckhead made work clothing for janitors, farners and the like. The pants had a little white label above the rear pocket about the same size as a one cent stamp of the time. Then college students started wearing them, the label got yellow and bigger, and the availability more widespread. Then the quality plummeted. The fabric on last pair I bought was about the same thickness as a cheap hotel bed sheet.

Are the Goody's "Vintage" versions any count?

Scott

tintin said...

Scott-
Interesting history. I knew they made work clothes outta duck canvas but didn't know about the stamp label.

The new ones are very heavy but most appear to be made in China. Still, the weight of the trouser today is much heavier than the ones I bought in the late 80s.

tintin said...

Bunny Tomerlin has left a new comment on your post "Southern Trad":

Love the Duck Head post! My chums and I wore duck head pants and shorts all through undergrad with tretorns! And lest I forget we are females. I live in Fayetteville, NC 9 months of the year. Grew up with lotsa Army Brats...Good people! Enjoyed your blog!

Bunny Tomerlin
http://bunnytomerlin.blogspot.com/

I accidently rejected this comment and very much want to include it with Ms Bunnie's wonderful blog address. Thanks, Bunny. That's a helluva blog you got there.

Bunny Tomerlin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
st. john hubbel said...

Loving the blog... another NC girl with ties to the County of Cumberland (Fayetteville,NC).. Hey, whatever happened to Ruff Hewn? One of my faves and ties to NC, I believe.... Best!! St.J

st. john hubbel said...

Love, love, love the blog!! Best chum of Bunny!! Also with ties to
the infamous County of Cumberland(Fayetteville)... Two quick thoughts: The Duck Head prompted this.... Ruff Hewn??? What happened? Great brand, quality..I still own pieces bought in the early 80's... Second, would love to see you post something on Captain Jeffrey McDonald...
x0x0x0
St. John

tintin said...

Bunny- Just stole two pics from your blog. Thanks! Brought back some memories.

St John- It's like a Fayettville homecoming around here. Welcome and thanks for your nice coments.

tintin said...

St John,
I remember Ruff Hewn. Great ads in the mid 80s. That's a stumper.

tintin said...

Jeff lived down the street from us. Uh, just kidding. He's kind of a downer don't you think?

st. john hubbel said...

I was obsessed with the book Fatal
Vision... Did you know he ended up suing Joe McGuinness??? Oh well..
Pretty please????

tintin said...

St John- I'll see what I can do. As a kid I remember when this happened. We were in just outside Charlotte and it was pretty big news. Still, I'm having trouble connecting a murder story to Trad. Did Jeff like sack suits and buttondowns?

Mom on the Run said...

I've seen Ruff Hewn somewhere recently...I'll try to remember where.

When we moved to ATL in the mid 80's Duck Head was the preferred khaki brand.

I really don't like Goody's, so haven't tried out the reincarnation.

Bunny, I just ordered some new tretorns. They're like the ones I wore for years sans Kappa Kappa Gamma shoestrings.

3button Max said...

I had no idea these were a hit in the south-i picked up a couple of pair on a trip to FL- at a Duck head outlet- years ago-loved 'em wore them out . I might settle for a cheap Goody's pair-I think the whole "Gap/ Old Navy " phenmom helped erode their brand-reality was Ducks were sort of acceptable trash trad.These may well be more symbolic of the time and place in which we wore them than any real quality.

tintin said...

3button-I agree with you. The quality is not there but the logo evokes memories of good times...usually anything to do with my being younger.

I'd never been in a Goodies before. I noticed a lot of classic clothing. Madras SS shirts, khakis, etc. A lot of it not bad at all. It dawned on me with everyone else going off shore to make this stuff, at least Goodys was asking a fair price representaive of a product made in China.

Anonymous said...

That Duck Head in Breton red is damn near a perfect shade. H.

randall said...

I remember as a kid it was THE brand and then when me and my brother were in junior high school we wouldn't be caught in Duck Head, at the time Abercrombie, American Eagle, and Express were the "it" stores.

and now i work at Goody's and fold Duck pants all day =\
they sell very well especially with older people who still think Duck is THE brand.

but yes Goodys i don't care for much, just work there while in school =\

Anonymous said...

What made Ruff Hewn special for you guys? I kind of have ties to that and am studying a little on it. As well would people still be interested in buying the Ruff Hewn shirt under a new branded name?