L.L. Bean conjures up outdoorsy, if not grandfatherly, images of anoraks and kayaks and moose (mooses? meeses? moosi?), and thus the classic American brand has never been on my fashion radar. This all changed with Wednesday night’s presentation of the label's signature collection.
Founded nearly 100 years ago as a purveyor of waterproof boots that Leon Leonward Bean sold by way of mail order circulars, the Freeport, Maine-based L.L. Bean didn’t have to look any further than Casco Bay for help rejuvenating their label. Massachusetts native and Rogues Gallery founder Alex Carleton, who spearheads this new collection, was up for the challenge, and the designer -- who has also worked for Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch – was brought on board to add a dapper dash of moxie as L.L. Bean Signature’s creative director
The collection brings a seafarer’s New England to the streets of New York, with youthful sailcloth madras shirts, vintage washed jeans, and canvas jackets. It's easy, however, to imagine purists' grumblings about the collection’s target audience knowing more about New England versus New York clam chowder, than, say, sailing. And can we blame them? Too often are we caught up in the discussion of Fashion with a capital F, sometimes at the risk of forgetting that there exists quite a bit of land – and with it, consumers – beyond the Hudson River. But whether these clothes are being worn for syle, or utility, this re-invigoration of a classic American brand with classic American themes should leave most of us as happy as a clam.