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Omaha Magazine

Return of the Leggoons

Feb 25, 2013 01:17PM ● By Michael Watkins
Chad Carr’s love affair with Leggoons—the graphically obsessed, vibrantly patterned board shorts that were all the rage in Omaha and most of the nation in the late 1980s—began when his mom bought him his first pair at the Westroads Brandeis in 1985.

“There were so many different designs, and they definitely stood out,” Carr says. “I hadn’t thought about Leggoons in a couple of decades until I saw someone wearing shorts in the Old Market several years ago that reminded me of them. It sparked my entrepreneurial interest in finding out what happened to them.”

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After doing some digging, he discovered that founders and Omaha natives Tom Ryan and Michael Kofoed had sold the logo and brand to some investors in the late ’80s. He scoured Omaha World-Herald archives for every article he could find about Leggoons, With the help of his attorney, Carr located two of the original investors to inquire about purchasing the brand and resurrecting the ’80s shorts that, at their height, rivaled Ocean Pacific and Hobe in the marketplace.

The company had filed for bankruptcy in the 1990s, and after pulling the files in Missouri, where the brand moved after Ryan and Kofoed sold it, Carr purchased the rights.

“I started this process eight years ago, and here we are now, bringing Leggoons back to the market with a fresh look and a nostalgic hook,” Carr says.

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An entrepreneur at heart—he started Ticket Express his senior year of college because he thought it would be a good way to see a lot of shows and concerts for free—Carr has never shied away from taking a chance or leap of faith.

That’s kind of how he sees this new venture, although because of its history, he knows this brand and product already have legs, no pun intended.

“I was always encouraged by my parents to work and make my own money,” says Carr, a 1988 graduate of Millard South. “I bought my first car with money I earned and saved for years from my paper route. It was always okay for me to think about working for myself instead of someone else. It was natural.”

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While the Leggoons name remains the same, the look and design have been updated. The men’s shorts are longer to reflect the trend while the women’s are shorter—straying from the original “unisex” appeal of the originals.

Similarly, the patterns have been given a much-needed facelift to reflect today’s bold colors and designs, and, thanks to social media and the internet, the public relations and marketing strategy is much different this time around as well.

“The inventors spent a lot of money on PR, had their own storefront, as well as placed the Leggoons in local and national department stores, but that’s not as important or necessary today,” says Carr, who re-launched Leggoons this past August during Omaha Fashion Week. “We’ve been able to create quite a buzz for Leggoons on Facebook and Twitter, and fans of the shorts have been able to purchase them online at www.leggoons.com. Beginning this spring, Leggoons will be available in select Omaha boutiques as well, adds Carr.