Grandpa was right: Plaid shirts and high-waist pants are ‘Duckie’

September 4, 2014
Duckie Brown, Spring 2015 (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images) Duckie Brown, Spring 2015 (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — As designers begin rolling their spring 2015 collections onto the runway here, the creative duo at menswear label Duckie Brown made a strong argument Thursday for what might best be described as “Grandpa style.” Yes, that is a good thing. Yes, of course it is. Because Grandpa was a wise, no-fuss kind of guy.

Grandfathers came to mind as lanky models, dressed in cropped trousers that sat rather high on the waist, began their slump-shouldered stroll around a downtown studio space. These amusingly geeky  pants were often paired with plaid camp shirts stitched from fabric that had the delicate translucence of vellum.  There were windbreakers and short-sleeve shirts that were buttoned snugly to the neck. Skater shorts fells several inches below the knee, and most everyone was wearing a bucket hat — the sort of headgear that once was limited to fishing trips but has recently became a favorite accessory on urban streets. The shoes? White Jack Purcell sneakers by Converse. So reassuring in their humble lack of technical wizardry.

Duckie Brown, spring 2014 (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.) Duckie Brown, spring 2014 (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.)


The Duckie Brown collection was not inspired by anything esoteric or complex, nothing other than a kind of exhaustion with all the aggravation and bother of trying to be cool and always gingerly balanced on the edge of provocation.

“I think we’re tired of long over short and short over long. We wanted something new and clean and fresh. That sounds a little cliche but it’s true,” says brand co-founder Daniel Silver backstage after the show. “It’s nice not having to be so far in your head. It’s a quieter moment. It’s a commercial moment.”

Calm doesn’t necessarily mean boring. Silver and partner Steven Cox spiced the runway with a handful of eye-popping delights: a cobalt blue glitter bucket hat, blue sparkle shorts and a blue Harrington jacket — a sort of British version of a varsity jacket — done up in glorious sparkles.

None of the shapes is unnerving, however. Everything is familiar.  “It looks regular but it’s not,” Silver says. “Maybe it’s more subversive because the proportions are just a little off.”

Nothing is obviously shrunken, but the trousers are cut a little bit short. The shirts look as though they’re missing about three inches off the bottom. The inseams are exaggerated. But everything looks comfortable and easy.  After so many seasons in which men have been trussed and tailored to the last millimeter, here is a collection unencumbered by pretense and attitude. Grandpa might not wear it; but it would certainly make him smile.

Robin Givhan is a staff writer and the Washington Post fashion critic, covering fashion as a business, as a cultural institution and as pure pleasure.
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