The Duck Head brand was founded in 1865 inNashville, Tennessee by George and Joe O'Bryan, two brothers who were buying surplus U.S. Army tent material. The material was a heavy canvas known as "duck", and the brothers began making work pants and shirts out of the strong material. Their company became known as the O'Bryan Brothers Manufacturing Company. The brand was purchased by Delta Woodside Industries in 1989 in an attempt to create a national brand. In 1999, Duck Head Apparel was spun off by Delta Woodside in an attempt to save the company. Tropical Sportswear International bought the company in 2001, but went bankrupt in 2005.
Duck Head Shoes began being produced in the 1990s by Old Dominion Footwear of Madison Heights, Virginia.
Duck Head clothing is now a private label brand sold exclusively at Goody's Family Clothing stores. Goody's underwent Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008, and announced plans in January 2009 to liquidate and close all of its stores under a second Chapter 11 filing. The Duck Head brand was put up for sale by Streambank LLC with an auction for the brand scheduled for the end of May 2009.