When L.L. Bean decides to create a heritage brand, it’s worth taking notice, and when they bring in Alex Carleton, founder of Rouges Gallery and former Bean design head, as creative director, it’s really worth taking notice.
L.L. Bean Signature Collection is that brand and it launches this Monday.
I spoke with Chris Vickers, L.L. Bean’s vice president for the Signature brand, and he explained the philosophy behind the concept. “We saw a need in the marketplace for an updated style and fit as compared to our current line,” he said. “We wanted to create a slimmer, more tailored fit, add some additional design to the product and offer products that were more versatile- from workday to weekend. We feel many existing Bean customers are looking for this and that we can attract new customers as well.”
He continues, “we hired Alex Carleton, who started Rogues Gallery and had worked for us for a few years prior. Together we decided that instead of looking to the competitors for inspiration, we would instead look at our almost 100 years of outdoor lifestyle history for our inspiration.” Vickers explained that the company is and wants to continue to be an outdoor inspired brand that provides classic American sportswear.
To that end, they are reinstating several items as is from their deep and extensive archives and in several cases, updating patterns, colors and fit to make them more relevant to today. Say Vickers, “we think this grounds us in our design direction and connects us to our past in a very modern way.”
I had a chance to visit the L.L. Bean store at Tyson’s Corner today and checkout the new collection and was really impressed. The “Archived” pieces are literally taken whole-cloth and reissued. The original field coat and shawl collared sweater are favorites of mine.