Since we’re well past the 15th of December 2023, we can officially announce that Duck Duck Goose has turned three years old. As we do every year while we blow the candles out on our cake, let’s take a moment to reflect on what our third year of life at 120 Bree Street has been like. We made a lot of new friends through luxury design, we produced a lot of clothes, we ran a T-shirt design competition, we traveled, we attended trade shows, we closed our shop for a while, we partied hard because we worked hard, and obviously, we never took ourselves too seriously. A solid core team has grown around our founder Daniel Sher, and the store has continually developed and learnt new things. To help me take stock of how well we’re progressing, I consulted the internet like an anxious parent to see what kind of developmental milestones children are expected to hit by three years of age. We know we’re not a normal bunch, but I’ve tried my best to justify that we’re on the right track. “Asks ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ or ‘why’ questions.” At the beginning of the year, Daniel spoke about having developed a new level of self-assurance in the South African fashion industry complemented by his liberation from the jaws of imposter syndrome. With this confidence, Duck Duck Goose marched into its third year with Daniel at the forefront. 2023 saw Daniel sit on multiple discussion panels, representing his work in the manufacturing and fashion space, talking Together MFG, Duck Duck Goose and Good Good Good. He embraced his DJ persona Full Inbox, sang and slurred on the mic at various parties we threw, and bravely and confidently made a fool of himself on the Duck Duck Goose Instagram account’s stories a few times. He even demanded food from customers in exchange for clothes. With such an unquestioned dictatorial conviction, we can safely assume that Daniel has found comfort in who he is in the industry, in place of being afraid to ask the question. Here’s Daniel opening his panel discussion, ‘Spaces and Community’, at Decorex Cape Town, featuring Hayden Manuel, Matt Hichens, and Pang Isaac. Full Inbox. In full swing. At One Park. Following Daniel’s self-assurance, Duck Duck Goose has become more sure of itself too. When we closed our flagship store for four months in the winter this year, we used the time off to think about how we can improve the utilisation of our space. For example, we removed the record shelf from our wall after giving up on the high hopes that Daniel initially had for his shop to be a hub for record collectors as well as people interested in luxury design. After two and a half years, we acknowledged that our space might be a hub for musical events, but we are not a record store. This is actually a photo that was taken before the store opened in 2020. But this is also basically what the shop looked like in the months that we closed it last year. Dimly lit, eerie, ladder, bucket, you get the idea. We took our break from the store very seriously, so we didn’t take any good photos. The retail break we had from our temporary closure on Bree Street gave us the time to reconsider who we are and what we want to do. Since we’ve reopened, we’ve laid into our identity as a space for unique luxury design and a brand that produces premium quality T-shirts. Our shifted focus towards manufacturing T-shirts for ourselves and for other brands at Together MFG led us to attend Decorex in Cape Town and Johannesburg, where we appeared in uniform aprons spelling out “The Duck Duck Goose T-Shirt Café” — a traveling capsule version of our flagship store that shines a spotlight on our work in T-shirt production. Much like in a cafe, customers were able to shop a selection of pre-made T-shirts, as well as order batches of tees to be made fresh in our factory to replenish their closets or to start their own brand with. Here’s Daniel and the lads from Father Coffee applying the vinyl for our pop-up in their space in Kramerville. Our collaborative party, curated by the Duck Duck Goose Soundsystem, was the unofficial Decorex Joburg afterparty. A highlight of the year for me. The movements of the Duck Duck Goose T-Shirt Café were accompanied by the Duck Duck Goose Soundsystem, the newly established and bookable musical wing of our business. Through our experience in hosting events over the past three years, we’ve built up a considerable network and enough confidence to be able to throw a party wherever we go. For example, 2023 saw us pop up at Father Coffee and Winebar in Joburg and twice at One Park in CPT. We hosted a jol at 120 Bree Street for Keinemusik and Bone Soda’s collaborative merch launch, for Reineke Wines’ release of Vinehugger, and are available to be booked to curate parties (and karaoke nights) for anyone’s private function. We’ll be off to play at a wedding in Tulbagh in March 2024! Through our work in the world of music and parties, we caught the eye of Spotify, who collaborated with us to create 50 limited edition outfits and enhance the vibe of the HSBC SVNS CPT in December. When Kujenga played to a pavement full of people on the night of our reopening, when we hosted Reineke Wines. All of these projects and events brought us closer with our unique and growing community by leading us to interact with and meet people on a regular basis through our work. The feedback, turnouts and reception to our work helped to remind us what we’re doing all of this for. Talks well enough for others to understand, most of the time. This much is true in our experience of being three years old. With the feedback, turnouts and reception that I mention above, we must have been doing (or saying) something right. We’re grateful that people have responded to us as they have, and that we’ve managed to find a community of like-minded folk who appreciate our contributions to our industry and the cultural landscape of the country. We’re thankful to everyone who has spent time in our shop, spread the word, and spent their hard-earned cash with us. We work our socks off at this company to stay true to the original vision and values of our store in trying to support beautiful independent South African design, all while making it a financially sustainable endeavour. Seeing our audience respond to our work positively gives us the confidence to keep going. In our third year, we worked harder to get our message across to people. Our community has grown as our communicative presence has. Our in-person presence in the city has always been undeniable, but now, with an in-house writer and a bigger core team, we’ve been able to engage with our online audience more than ever and insert ourselves into a greater underlying conversation about culture in Cape Town through a healthy blog and more active social media representation. I’ve personally learnt to share the load of embarrassing myself on Instagram stories with Daniel, with some zhuzhy IYKYK one-liners coming from it — little secrets that we share with our audience. Shoutout to everyone who has followed us online and listened to our babbling. We’re excited to continue in the same vein and push even harder to maintain contact with our community, from Cape Town to Joburg to the world. Daniel tackling the challenging questions in conversation with our Instagram audience. Avoids touching hot objects, like a stove, when you warn her. Oh, we’ve been warned. After three years in business, we know far better which situations to avoid. In our growing process, it’s only natural to have touched a couple of stoves. We’ve taken on some projects that haven’t suited us, overextended ourselves, made decisions without sufficient thought, kept items aside for customers that said they’d “be back later”, all of which shot us in the foot in one way or another. At this age of greater maturity and experience, we know far better to wave our hand above the plate for a while to check its temperature before touching it. We know better which projects suit our vision, which people we want working our floor and which products look best on our rails and shelves. We can’t guarantee that we won’t burn our fingers again, but we definitely know a red-hot plate when we see one. No matter the situation, we know how to push through. Like boiling water off a duck’s back. Notice other children and join them to play. We’ve been ahead of our age for this one since our birth in 2020. Throughout Daniel’s creative career, he’s displayed an unrelenting appetite for collaboration, and Duck Duck Goose has served as a platform for even more such play. In 2023, we continued to gaze across the playground and join forces with various friends in the creative industry to make beautiful things happen. Between organizing events and hosting musicians and DJs on the lineups of the Duck Duck Goose Soundsystem, hosting a T-Shirt Design Competition and shining a light on emerging talent, and making collaborative tees with various businesses, both established and young, we’ve met and played with so many wonderful people. To help jog your memory, our collaborators this year included Please, Maak ‘n Plan, Esa Williams’ Aweh Music label, our T-Shirt Design Competition winners, Shaun Hill’s Bat Butt, One Park, Hey Neighbour Festival, Keinemusiek and Bone Soda, and Spotify. We’re so grateful that these friends and establishments decided to work with us, etching their names into the history of our project and ours into theirs. The Keinemusik massive (including Wanda Lephoto) pulling up to see Skinny Macho reverse DJ and get their hands on precious Keine-merch at the shop in November. In true Duck Duck Goose fashion, we celebrated our third year of life by releasing two collaborative T-shirts with titans of the South African fashion retail industry in Shelflife and Baseline Skate Shop. After three years, we’re glad to have made it to a point where we can play with the kids that we used to look up to when we were much littler. As we move into our fourth year of business, we have our heads held high in the belief that we’re heading in the right direction. We’ve still got a sense of child-like wonder and a sparkle in our eyes about what the future holds. For 2024, we’ve got our eyes set on more of the same and better. Expect more luxury design, more collaboration, more time spent interacting with our community, more jolling and dancing, and more banter, of course. Hold tight, flock. It’s about to get even zhuzhier. Zhuzhaluj. Lots of love, The Duck Duck Goose Team.