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Duck And Cover

It may have been under cover for a while, but this UK young fashion brand is now ready to break out.

Duck And Cover, from a PR point of view, has been off the radar recently. While the likes of Superdry and Gio-Goi have made major inroads into the young fashion market, the 11-year-old UK brand has seemed to be slumbering. But just like the brand’s subtly nuanced clothing, Duck And Cover is full of surprises.

“Yes, we have had our heads down in the past 12 months”, confesses director Nigel Addison. “But we had a few things to do.” Like launching footwear, gearing up for international growth, recruiting senior management, plotting own-brand retail ambitions and planning a marketing push for its womenswear, for example. Phew.

But top of that exhausting list was moving into a swanky new three-storey building in Park Royal, north London. Inside, it is sparkling clean; all polished wood and open space with plenty of room for new staff. “This will have to last us for a good five to 10 years,” says Addison, “so it is big enough for us to expand”. Downstairs, the showroom is packed with product, all displayed on the chrome and white acrylic units that are set to furnish Duck And Cover’s new retail venture.

“Please emphasise that we are not going to start opening loads of shops, though,” adds Addison, who experienced disgruntled feedback from some indie accounts while working at French Connection when it was opening own-brand stores. He points out that the scale of the retail push will not threaten current stockists. After all, this is a brand that has not been tempted to sell online.

So, just a few stores are planned (the first will be a franchise in the Liverpool One shopping centre, set to open in November; Addison remains tight-lipped about the retail partner, but says it is a current customer), and only in major destinations, as befits the label’s softly-softly approach to just about everything it does.

“We do things for the long term,” says Addison. An approach that is in keeping with its private owners – menswear is owned by founders Ashwin and Surhil Shah, who also co-own the womenswear business along with Jay Shah and Addison.

The clothes, too, are designed for something more than instant gratification. And although Addison says that “clean design doesn’t work for us,” he doesn’t mean the product is garish or bold – indeed, the menswear for autumn 08 is subtly crafted and in a man-friendly palette of grey, black, blue and khaki with details aplenty, from half-plackets to military-styled epaulettes, engraved rivets and tonal branding. The womenswear is a blend of on-trend shapes (from jumpsuits and long-line knits to wide-leg pants) and simpler commercial styles.

It is a mix that is working – the brand’s sales rose 2% for spring 08, driven by key retailers backing their more bulletproof brands. It is a testament to a decade of hard work that Duck And Cover is one of those.

Duck And Cover 020 8453 1668
www.duckandcover.co.uk

Essentials

35
Number of staff at the new head office; recruitment continues

300
Number of UK accounts for menswear. There are 170 for womenswear

1997
The year the brand was born with a menswear collection. Womenswear was launched in 2004

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