The Duck Head name goes back to 1865 when two brothers in Nashville, Tennessee. George and Joe O’Bryan bought surplus Army tents made out of a heavy, canvas-like material known as duck. Although it was not intended as a clothing material, duck proved to make sturdy work pants and overalls. These early duck pants became known as khakis which also made a success of the O’Bryan Brothers Manufacturing Company and created durable clothing staple for the last century.
In 1892 the brothers tried to trademark the name “duck,” but were turned down by the Trademark and Registration Office in Washington because the term was in general use. The two brothers, both avid outdoorsmen loved ducks. This combination led to the now famous Duck Head. When they were told that “duck head” was available, the O’Bryan brothers registered the name. This naturally led to the head of a mallard duck becoming the lasting symbol of their products.
Duck Head clothing was manufactured by the O’Bryan Brothers for many years. During World War II the business turned its exclusive attention to making military uniforms with over 5 million uniforms made during the war. They were one of the largest manufacturers of US military uniforms during this important time in American History. Following the war the company latched onto the popularity of country music, a natural connection given its Nashville roots, and with such stars as Hank Williams sporting Duck Heads during his days playing at the Grand Ole Opry, the product line gained even greater appeal.
During the next 50 years Duck Head grew into a lifestyle brand with khaki pants and shorts being the staple of generations of Americans.