Ducky’s turns vintage clothing into a premium brand

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When Lily and Ryan Phillips returned to Albany from living down south about a year ago, they felt the town was missing something: a place where the community could find quality vintage clothing with “a soul “.

That’s why the duo opened Ducky’s, a vintage clothing boutique on Madison Avenue, in November.

Whether you’re looking for that old concert t-shirt from 30 years ago or trying to find a tasteful piece to add to your wardrobe, Ducky’s aims to please.

Ryan and Lily have always considered themselves clothing connoisseurs, constantly on the lookout for the next staple to make their wardrobe stand out. On each road trip, and there were many of them, the two men deliberately avoided the highways in the hope of stumbling upon a garage sale or small shops to choose their next great find along the back roads.

Over time, their collection became “heavy”. And seeing what they could bring to Albany, they decided to try to fill the void.
Ducky’s sells vintage clothes everywhere, the couple explained. But there’s more to their pieces than just defining what vintage encapsulates, Lily said.

Like duck and trendy denim, Ducky’s aspires to bring hard-wearing clothing that has stood the test of time to other places in town.

Their clothes are older, yes. Some have specific stitching or unique zippers and materials that were also made in the USA. However, these things alone aren’t enough to fulfill Ducky’s act of acceptance.

“If we take a piece of clothing, it can hit all the spots (which) are considered vintage. But if it doesn’t speak to us in some way… (we) put it back on the rack,” she said.

“Our clothes have a soul almost like when we find something that really speaks to us,” she added.

Ryan said what sets Ducky’s clothes apart is that they come from beyond the city and “hold their own weight.”

“He has his own thing,” he said. “It’s more than just curating like clothes, we’re also curating a whole aesthetic, a whole experience.”


Lily and Ryan believe that’s what people want in fashion, deep clothes, items they won’t see eight other people down the street wearing.

Vintage clothes and thrift stores are a treasure hunt. When someone shops at Ducky’s, they unlock a treasure from the past or open a new window into style. Every item is different and customers buy at random if they find something that catches the eye and hopefully works for them.

Visitors also notice that the store does not have dedicated sections for men and women. It’s because Lily and Ryan want people to know that fabric knows neither gender nor sex, nor clothes. They deliberately avoided grouping items into such categories to break down gender bias.

Just as vintage demands, Ducky’s pieces also inspire nostalgia. Although often when an older person stops and sees a t-shirt that takes them back in time for a short while, they won’t buy it, Ryan explained.

They indulge for a moment or two and leave. Ryan has noticed that most of the store’s regular customers are people in their 20s and early 30s. These are people who want to dress in a unique way without being boring, he noted.

“I think we provide an outlet for those kinds of people who don’t really fall into trends or really fit into a box, who (are) kind of just (doing) their own thing,” Ryan said. .

The combination of scarcity and being out of step with today’s catwalks is what has turned vintage clothing into a high-end business. It’s also partly why some people are willing to pay more for second-hand clothes.

Ducky’s wares vary in cost. Most items, such as t-shirts, are around $30 each. Other pieces, including jackets and pants, are more expensive, with some going over $100.

Ryan doesn’t think higher prices would deter customers from buying their clothes. He thought back to when he was a kid and thought anything over $20 for a shirt made him cringe. Now he doesn’t think that’s the case and many are used to paying more than that for a piece.

Lily and Ryan don’t have to worry about manufacturing costs, but other things factor into the price.

“It’s not like it’s an old used T-shirt for $36,” he said. “It dates from 1982 and there are no more that exist like that.”

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