L.L. Bean (overview here) released a "sneak peak" at their Signature Line which is scheduled to debut in March. Overall, it is about a D+. In a nutshell review, it is L.L. Bean does Hipster Metro Grunge.
Their strength will lie in their accessories.Mixed:
The first problem is colors. With the exception of Navy and khaki, most of the color selections are off. For example, while classic Bean tartans are wonderful, these patterns are not.
This color palette ruins some otherwise interesting items. Here are some specifics:
- The nice canvas "pocketbook size" tote is somewhat thrown by the specific shade of yellow.
- There is way too much teal across the board.
- On the highlighted Women's camp shirt, the style is fine, but not in these colors.
Here are some examples:
- Non-classic styles for women (tank tops are always bad).
- Wedge shoes.
- Unattractive dresses for women.
- Too much denim.
- What have they done to the back of the Bean Boots?
- Belts are too skinny.
ConclusionOne can understand L.L. Bean's strategy. But going for the younger, urban trendy customers is always tricky. At best, there are some great men's items that are perfect for women (as with so many vendor's today, the biggest problems are with the women's offerings). At worst, expect to see a lot of this going on sale at the end of the season.
Finally, if L.L. Bean wants to go after the urban customer, they may be five years too late with this approach. The capricious hip is moving towards the natty (see Dressing for Success, Again in The New York Times). Which means, for example, that while L.L. Bean is leaving their classics, the market they are now pursuing is actually looking for them.