Duckie Brown Spring 2023 Men’s Collection
For the past few seasons, Duckie Brown’s Steven Cox and Daniel Silver have been selling their collections exclusively by appointment at their West Village studio. The “By Appointment Only” prospect may have once been a symbol of gatekeeping and exclusivity, but here it’s more like being welcomed into someone’s house for a home-cooked meal (in fact, her studio used to be her apartment before she moved to leaving Brooklyn). Further distancing their approach from a stuffy luxury environment are the videos they post to their Instagram account of Cox trying on dresses while he and Silver chat about fits and colors or whatever else comes to mind. They invite viewers to ask them questions or make an appointment to see the clothes in person.
Don’t be fooled by their irreverent attitude though, the clothes they make are serious about the cut, fit and fabric, even if the result is a pair of tiny running shorts in French lace (or silk or gorgeously sheer cotton- voile) or “high-waisted tights” that can be pulled up over the head, as seen in the first look of the collection. In fact, the first looks are variations on a form-fitting, sporty silhouette all in black: a maxi-length t-shirt, a little tank top, leggings, long sleeves that can be used as arm or leg warmers, a perfectly boxy swim brief. The Duckies don’t believe in lofty inspirations. They’ve been doing this for over 20 years and their inspiration is just… themselves. “Twice a week we do gyrotronics with a German ballet dancer named Wilma who’s very strict,” Cox explained. He shows me a picture of himself lying in a Pilates pose on a mat, then a simplified line drawing with a heavy black marker that is actually a sketch for the spandex pieces. “We’ve worked with Daniel Storto – I’ve known him since I was 19 – and he’s a glove designer who lives up in Gloversville, where all the gloves used to be made. He designed all of these pieces, he’s an incredible talent,” said Cox. A pink silk organza bomber jacket worn with light fuchsia wide-leg pants had its roots in a version they’d made years ago from raw denim that he’d found while browsing his closet recently. (“I don’t know where that came from, but I ended up needing a pink flower [of the collection]’ said Cox.) He was also excited to discover that he had just happened to find pale pink snaps at a Midtown store that matched the jacket perfectly and didn’t have to order them separately.
It’s such small details that make her clothes so special, besides being just adorable and desirable. Pants with what appears to be a wrap-around waist in lilac silk – which they’ve washed – are paired with a crombie jacket in silk organza that’s been tea-dipped. “It’s such classic English [silhouette]but it completely collapses [in the fabric]’ Cox explained. “It’s so wrong but so right.” Following that “so wrong but so right” energy, they also made skin-tight versions of the wool jersey and spandex Crombie jacket “by Spandex House on 37th Street.” Similarly, her signature pants, with a 48-inch waist designed to be turned up, gathered, or otherwise adjusted to the wearer’s preferred fit, derive from the pants worn by “Sal,” an old shirt-maker’s accountant, for who you used to work with at Greenpoint. While showing me a jacket that had the “lining” on the outside, Cox said they used to get the fabric from “a guy on Delancey Street.” It’s a fabulous piece.
We know that clothing is an intimate form of self-expression, it’s personal, and over time the clothes in our closet become entangled with the stories of the things we’ve lived. So you get the sense that at Duckie Brown, Cox and Silver infuse the clothes with their own stories before they even make it into their customers’ wardrobes. They produce in very small batches – 10 of these shirts, three of these jackets – and after spending an hour in their studio you get the feeling that they have found meaning and joy in exactly how to exist in the world. “We’ve been together for 30 years,” Silver explained. “And I think the key is to spin. We try to break out of the loop all the time. Everything we do has an arc, and some people are okay with doing it for the long haul. And others like us [are thinking]”Let’s go over here. Let’s pan. Let’s dream a little new dream.’” Her clothes also inspire other new dreams.