|L.L. Bean's "Made in China" Knock-Off of a "Made in New England" Product|
Ivy Style ran a great story called Below The Belt?: Lands’ End Clones.... Christian wrote on the latest example of large clothing corporations brazenly copying designs from small, US designers and manufacturers, and outsourcing the production work to China in the process.
I had posted another example of this, L.L. Bean's Maine Isle Flip-Flops, knocking off Eliza B.
We all stand on the shoulders of giants. And we have come to expect cheap, no-name knock-offs of famous brands. But when the famous brands themselves do the knocking-off so shamelessly, and then shift production away from the United States as part of the process, while spending their vast PR and marketing dollars on highlighting their own (increasingly tenuous) US-credentials ("Maine Isle Flip-Flops"), at the least consumers ought to be very aware of the choices they are making.
*** Update - This post received the following comment from Cecil Lyon. I will similarly post any comment, unedited, that L.L. Bean cares to send me. ***
"I just became aware of this article. For the record my name is Cecil Lyon. I own and operate Eliza B.
We have been making sandals for 15 years. Originally for fisherman in Florida and eventually for ladies' boutiques. We were the first ribbon sandal and for many years the only sandal with a "toe ribbon". And yes we have been successful. And, if you are successful it is likely some of your ideas will be "borrowed". So it goes.
L.L.Bean was quite brazen with their borrowing. I had been trying for a decade to get a meeting with one of their buyers. No luck. Then one day a buyer called and asked to see samples of our sandals. Could we overnight them? We were jubilant. Finally a chance to meet with L.L.Bean. I waited three days and followed up with a phone call. Couldn't get through. Called four more times. Buyer was unavailable. Four or five months later I opened an L.L.Bean catalog and there they were. Perfect little knock offs of our sandals. Right down to the millimeter.
At some level one must admire this methodology. It is ruthlessly efficient. Almost Germanic. Free samples. Free shipping and free design work. As they say in Maine, "wicked smart". I guess I am bitter. I feel like a chump. I will take solace in the fact that I have employed a goodly number of Americans and have enjoyed watching them raise their families. The Bean folks. Well they can enjoy their moo goo gai pan.
There is an exquisite irony to all of this. How does L.L. bean find out about companies like mine in the first place? Probably by reading blogs like this."
*** Update 2: Lands' End decided to discontinue Knockoff. (Ivy Style Link). L.L. Bean remains unchanged. ***