L.L. Bean released its Signature Fall 2010 collection today. This is a first take review. (And look for yourself here.)
The Suede Bloucher and Leather Bloucher Mocs, Downeaster Sport Wool Plaid Bag, and the Saltwash Canvas Backpack look solid, and The Wool Trench, 1958 Chamois Shirt and the Glen Plain Bucket Hat might be good. Beyond that, the Women's items are mostly an ugly, dry-clean only mess. (I ran out of synonyms for hideous as I was going through this section).
Overall, there are way too many synthetics. Who needs a dress made of seven different materials? They also have an annoying habit of taking the name of a lovely Maine town and naming a not-so-lovely item after it (Castine Cord Jacket comes to mind). Expect to see deep discounts once again in a few months.
The Men's items are much more interesting.
L.L. Bean has hit several home runs by simply reaching into their archives. But the Signature team could not resist meddling, and made so many items "slim fit" (which combines impractical fit with a style destined to be as dated as wide ties in just a few years). They also seemed to have outsourced all of their production to China and other offshore locations, which in the past may have accounted for some quality issues.
Given these, some caution might be advised in buying otherwise obvious great looking items like the 1947 Field Coat with its marvelous button out liner vest, the Bean's Plaid Stag Jacket, the Maine Guide Shirt, or the Blanket Lined Corduroy Coat with the spectacular lining. (The sweater shown under the Ink Black Stag Jacket looks the most intriguing of all.)
Some seemingly unaltered items that look wonderful are the Bean's Vacation Bag, Bean's Zipper Duffle, Saddle Shoes and the Signature Ties, Tartan.
Overall in the Men's section, they came so close. But there are many men who either do not have model figures, or are not interested in trying to look like one, or who worry about a soon-to-be-dated look, who would flock to more authentic items if they were not slim-fitted. At the very least, there should be a regular fit option.