Scott Perry hopes the time is right to introduce Duxbak to a new generation. Duxbak was touted as the country’s first outdoor brand and is considered one of America’s most “iconic and nostalgic outdoor brands,” Perry notes in Duxbak marketing materials.
But Duxbak, founded in 1904, hasn’t been available since the mid 1980s. Until now.
Perry, 46, of Little Rock, and his brother Jason obtained the licensing rights to revive Duxbak in February. They are developing Duxbak hunting shirts, hunting vests and jackets and anticipate selling them in the fall or by the end of the year.
“What we’re doing is more a combination of yesterday and today as far as the product offering,” Scott Perry said. “We’re not going back in time and making product that’s so retro that it really wouldn’t be attractive.”
Perry’s connection to the brand drove him to rekindle Duxbak.
“This brand has been something that I’ve admired since I was a kid,” Perry said. “Duxbak is one of those brands that I bought and wore growing up. My dad wore it.”
Perry said he tried to secure the rights to the brand three years ago, “but the timing wasn’t right.”
In the fall of 2015, though, everything fell into place.
He said he sees “a longing in the outdoor industry right now for a product that’s a little more nostalgic.”
The Perry brothers hope others agree.
The company projects sales could grow to $20 million-$25 million by 2020.
Off A Duck’s Back
In 1904, the clothes maker Bird Jones & Kenyon primarily made overalls in its plant in Utica, New York, according to a 1921 article by Edward T. Tandy: “As Utica was the gateway to the mountains and lake, Bird Jones & Kenyon saw much of the visiting sportsmen, recognized their need of special clothing and started to supply it.”
The firm began selling waterproof canvas clothes for the outdoors. The items were a hit.
“These were garments off which water would run as off a duck’s back,” Tandy wrote. Hence, the brand’s Duxbak trademark.
The name grew to represent quality and durability to the sportsman for more than 100 years, Perry said. Though untrue, it was even said that the company invented the hunting jacket.
Many portsmen of the time, including Teddy Roosevelt, were photographed wearing Duxbak, Perry said.
Over the years, the product lines expanded to clothes for skiing, golf and sailing. The company contracted with the army during WWII while touting its hunting coats as workwear for the shipyard and airplane plant workers.
Perry said that most avid sportsmen over the age of 40 likely owned a Duxbak item when they were younger or remember their elders owning one. The coats’ only problem was that they were so durable they were often handed down rather than purchased new.
In the 1980s, things changed for Duxbak.
Facing cheaper competion from overseas apparel makers and in financial trouble, the shrinking company went through a series of sales beginning in the mid 1980s and ending with a purchase by Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. of Fort Worth — maker of Dickies workwear — which unceremoniously discontinued the brand a few years ago.
It hasn’t been available in the market since then.
Perry and his brother, meanwhile, have had success with their outdoor clothing companies, McAlister and Mountain Khakis.
“So we approached them this past fall and said, ‘Hey, we’ve done these other companies. We think there’s an opportunity to bring the Duxbak brand back into the sporting market,’ “ Perry said.
The Perry brothers formed FieldSport LLC of Little Rock. The name “FieldSport” came from the old English term for hunting and fishing activities, Scott Perry said.
FieldSport holds the license for Duxbak, which will be good for five years.
Perry said the Duxbak brand should resonate and be recognized by those sportsmen between the ages of 45 and 60.
Perry said younger people also should flock to Duxbak.
“Duxbak is rich with character and offers a relaxed and independent slice of Americana, which has been lost in the clutter of modern and popular culture,” he said.
Duxbak has a “huge opportunity” to grow and projects it will have $20 million in sales by 2020, Perry said.
“I think that number is something we can easily obtain based on what I’ve seen in my past experience, and what I know about our target consumer and all of that research,” he said.
In addition to the shirts, hunting vests and headwear, Duxbak will offer jackets and pants. The items will be made of heavy canvas, corduroy and wools and offered primarily in tan, olive and dark colors. Perry said a signature camouflage pattern is being developed as well.
He said the plan is to manufacture the Duxbak line in the United States “unless for whatever reason, there is something that just forces us to do it out of the country because of financial purposes.”
The Duxbak products will be sold online and in retailers that cater to the outdoors.
Duxbak could face challenges if the economy sours. And if it’s unseasonably warm in the fall and winter, sales could be hurt.
“But we have plan to expand this product line to more casual wear and everyday wear and actually get out of the seasonality of it,” Perry said. “We want it to be more of a general outdoor brand, like it used to be.”
But expanding the brand might be a few years down the road.
“Duxbak is such a brand that hunting, fishing and the outdoor lifestyle can all be represented,” Perry said. That “leaves the opportunity for the brand and product line open for growth across a wide consumer audience for many years to come.”