Thursday, October 4, 2012

L.L. Bean wants Input!

I bought this Women's Norwegian Sweater in 1980 in Freeport.

The Norwegian Sweater is an L.L. Bean classic.  I keep waiting for them to bring back a Women's wool version, which has not been available for so many years that I have lost count.

Here is what they are offering for women instead:  http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/76562

I tweeted the following, which then got the following response.


Muffy Aldrich Muffy Aldrich @MuffyAldrich 04 Oct
#llbean This is not the Women's version for which I was hoping. Ouch. llbean.com/llb/shop/76562… #MonkeysPaw #epicfail


L.L.Bean Service
@MuffyAldrich Sorry you're disappointed. If you wish to provide more specific comments, I'll be happy to fwd them to our Women's Dept. ^rc 

Since they asked, I would like to give them a response from anyone with an opinion.  If you have a twitter account, please feel free to click on this link, use the automatic reply window, and meet their request for specific comments: https://twitter.com/LLBeanService/status/253879004363386880

If you add @muffyaldrich and #llbean (and keep @LLBeanService) we can track your comments on the twitter feed on this site.

** Follow up ** Our tweets received this:


 LLBean Christmas catalog features bird's-eye cardi $169 Norway & Fisherman cardi $169 Ireland  

Be sure to click on the picture link.  They look very nice.

55 comments:

Slone Ranger said...

I'm with you, Muffy. Tweet sent!

Anonymous said...

Great God. That fleece mess is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. How could they possibly think that hideous frock is a suitable subsitute for a classic? I'll be emailing them with my input. --Holly in PA

Anonymous said...

That is one truly awful fleece.

KW said...

I immediately thought of you when I saw this in the catalog in yesterday's mail. "Muffy will NOT be pleased".

Cranky Yankee said...

A polyester Fitness Fleece, Quarter-Zip Bird's-Eye Pullover??? Has a competitor hacked into the L.L. Bean website?

Anonymous said...

I can't stop laughing at The Monkey's Paw reference/hashtag. That may be the funniest thing I have read all year.

HillaryPearl said...

I don't have a twitter account, but your hashtags are great! Do they not know how ugly it is? Here's an idea, how about they make a durable warm sweater (no fleece), solid color, no zipper. It seems like they are trying to make a cheap walmart knock off of a product. Why not just make the original?

Juli said...

Finally; something that entices me to get a Twitter account! Llbean - shame on you! What were you thinking? Oh, right, you weren't thinking when you created that poor excuse of a bird's-eye garment. We already know you don't listen, but now it's apparent you lack the ability to think as well.

Paul Connors said...

From a man's standpoint, I don't think the newer versions are any better than not having a woman's pattern. If memory serves me correctly many folks who post here have commented in the past about the inconsistency of fit (regardless of size) and I know I have. The last Norwegian sweater I purchased from L L Bean (approx. 5 years ago now) was very blousy and ballooned around the waist. I believe I paid approx. $98 for that sweater and it is now up to approx. $128 or $129 and I can state unequivocally that a) the sweater is NOT worth that price and b) I will not buy another one until the original pattern is revived, the quality improves and the price drops back to something resembling reasonable.

This is another prime example of "how to lose customers."


Paul Connors

old said...

The dearth of American/EU/Nafta made goods in their catalogue and retail outlets confirms the firm is in the initial throes of what will likely be a painful agonizing death - for us, the firm and their employees

OSP

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I do miss the women's version, the classic iconic rugged, last-a-life-time version. The New England staple. However, the new one, albeit predictable, in a contemporary way, it does have a very nice look. I'll need a closer look before making any financial commitments.
Digby
Republic of Western Mass

nutrivore said...

Why on earth would one pay $100 and over for an L.L. Bean cardigan when one can get it shipped in a jiffy from the U.K. (the bird's eye Norwegian sweater, a Guernsey, an Aran, whatever you like of the finest quality) for about $60 including shipping?

I've bought many items from Wool Overs Knitwear and have been very pleased with the quality and service. I don't know the owners and they aren't paying me for saying this.

Muffy Aldrich said...

@nutrivore - I just received my WoolOvers Fisherman's Crew(s)in Navy and was so thrilled that I promptly ordered more. I will be putting up pictures soon.

Anonymous said...

Dear Muffy:

That bird's eye fleece is ugly...but dare I say that I like it! It is garish but the ugliness appeals to me in the same way I like my old Patagonia patterned fleeces.

I am not perfect, it's true

Bring on the stone throwing!

Elizabeth in Virginia said...

Please, Bean-not fleece-we need the return of the real sweater!

Anonymous said...

To Anon 5:17: The big difference is that your old patagonias were nice and thick and made of high quality fleece. This one is a Fitness fleece - thin and cheap.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5: 28:

It 'll be here tomorrow and I promise to report on my findings!

Michael Rowe said...

Would it KILL these people to stop messing with their own products? No one is asking them to be something other than L.L. Bean, but they can't even seem to be that anymore. They're the ones with the great history, why can't they live up to it?

Greenfield said...

Notice to Bean:

"Fleece" is polyester. As in cheesy, synthetic, knock-off. Its warmth is dubious at best, its look as generic as Wal-Mart, and the design doesn't even resemble the original.

That, and if I hear ONE more reference to "fitness" ANYthing I'm going to run screaming off the end of the jetty in my vintage 1977, 100% WOOL, REAL Norwegian Sweater!

nutrivore said...

If the activity involves sweat, cool wool is ideal - Icebreaker, Smartwool and others have products that can be worn all year round. I wear cool wool socks even at 110F.

And after five days of camping, I can still manage not to smell like a skunk. Polyester is smelly and doesn't breathe well.

Craig Sevde said...

I think Einstein said...Repeating the same behavior and expecting a different outcome is insanity. Or something like that.
PS: Princeton people know apparel...And know LL Bean is no longer a reliable supplier to the "Trad".

Anonymous said...

How ugly!!! I will not buy this! I too have a sweater from 1980 and it continues to look and wear great! I have given up on sending Bean a comment or complaint, they just respond with dreck and we get nowhere! So sad...... They used to be a great company.............sigh
Jane Keller

Bitsy said...

When I received my Fall LL Bean catalog and saw the birds-eye printed fitness fleece, I wondered how long it would be before other TDP readers discovered this amazing (not in a good way) item. It left me speechless.

Paul Connors said...

@ Greenfield:

I believe your 1977 Norwegian sweater was 80% wool and 20% NYLON (as Bean used to say, "for strength."

Paul Connors said...

Attached below is my 2009 review of the L.L. Bean Norwegian Fisherman's sweater (pre- FREE shipping and the attendant price increases).

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Very Overpriced at $129,
Date:November 3, 2009
By Colonialpara from Rockaway, NJ"

I had one of these sweaters back in the 1980s and loved it. I also wore it out and that took a while. About TWO years ago, I bought another one for about HALF of what Bean is charging now. I normally need an XL in sweaters and bought this one in that size; it was TOO large, but I decided to keep it because I wear clothing in layers in the winter. The finish of the wool is rough and I do NOT believe the quality or material warrants this sweater being priced at $129 - a steep jump in just the last year. Given the HUGE increase in price vice the quality of the product I CANNOT recommend this sweater (unless you don't care about cost). This was the first time I've been disappointed by a Bean product and am disheartened to see such a HUGE increase from when I last purchased this sweater. This sweater SHOULD NOT be priced north of $99 and quite frankly, I probably wouldn't buy it at that price now, either."

Gender:Male

How often do you shop at L.L.Bean?Frequently.

I would describe myself as: A conservative, preppy dresser and fan of LL Bean & Brooks Brothers

Anonymous said...

One of the. things my mother taught me was that if you purchased quality, it would last "forever ". Therefore, I intend to wear the sweater I bought in 1985 until it's in ribbons. I think I'm giving up on Bean.

MaryBeth said...

Could you please get them to make duck shoes and boots in size 5.

Joyce N said...

I have a navy Guernsey Jersey that I ordered last spring from WoolOvers and was very pleased with the quality and the service. It was about $50 including shipping. They have gone up $8 in price since then - still a real bargain! I am looking at an Aran - they look very nice, however, I live in Texas so I don't need a lot of wool. I also like the birds eye but would like it in a lighter color like cream or oatmeal.

Joyce N said...

Muffy, your L.L. Bean Natural/Navy Birdseye Sweater (shown in May 7, 2010 post) is my favorite of all the birdseye patterns.

Michael Rowe said...

Many of us seem to have acquired our scoured wool Norwegian sweaters in the 80s. Halcyon days. Never thought they would end.

Oxford Cloth Button Down said...

Muffy,

Way to get things done! If they would just hire you to consult for them they could avoid such embarrassments as not knowing what to produce and offer to their customers:)

Anonymous said...

I too am disappointed with Bean but sometimes it feels like we're too harsh on them. I suppose our criticisms are the inverse relationship to how much we liked them in the past. Do note, however, that Lands' End has also gone down in quality ( among innumerable others).

As someone far poorer than Muffy, the aforementioned companies are the only affordable places to shop without looking ridiculous or going into debt. My wife and I must survive on an adjunct's salary in the humanities/social sciences.

Still, the two retain unparallelled customer service about which I will not provide examples for fear of seeming to shill for them.

I hope they stick around for a long time.


Anonymous said...

Hi. I have one question for you. I am asking this since I trust in your sense about clohting. What would you buy ll bean's rag wool crewneck sweater or Brooks' shetland crewneck, if you were me?
ll bean's looks great, but I am having hard time making up my mind since so many people talk about their quality going down these days.

Anonymous said...

I haven't shopped at Bean's in ages bc the quality has become so flimsy and the clothing generally frumpy, but this fleece is epic. LL Bean: This is NOT okay and needs to disappear immediately before someone's eyesight is permanently damaged.

Anonymous said...

The Monkey Paw reference made me find and reread the original short story. The analogy is even funnier than I first thought.

Maggie said...

Oh dear. I have tweeted. Hope lots of others will, too.

HillaryPearl said...

Also thank you for the info on woolovers. It looks as though they have some nice items at a price I can handle!

Anonymous said...

While on the topic of LL Bean, unless I missed it in a catalog, it seems they no longer offer the classic (3-eyelet) gum shoes. Has anyone else noticed? I need to replace mine as they are getting tired and the treads are worn.

Anonymous said...

Besides the Norwegian sweater, does anyone remember when LLB used to sell a heavy navy wool boat-neck crew sweater? I had a couple of them-the first being one I bought while in college some 50 years ago.

Bitsy said...

@MaryBeth -- Yes! i, too, wear size 5 and have been so disappointed that they no longer carry size 5 in anything but a few slippers. When my Bean boots needed replacement last year, I went to the children's department -- the size 3 in big kids shoes is the equivalent of women's size 5. I am quite pleased with them, and like the adult boots, they are still made in Maine.

Michael Rowe said...

What I don't understand is this: if Bean survived and thrived during the era of the mid-80s when Lisa Birnbach's book was a bestseller, and well into the 90s, all without caving in to the vast unwashed and their bland, insistent demands, why NOW?

L.L. Bean, Inc., I hope your marketing people are reading this blog. You have the best archive of timeless American outdoor classics--all of which are as "practical" as whoever these new customers of yours seem to want--in history. WHY can't you create a line of those classics and bring them back?

Dress all those other people till you're blue in the face. Make billions. Godspeed. But can't you be L.L. Bean again, even part time, for those customers who've been loyal for decades?

Anonymous said...

This is sad and pathetic. I just keep crossing companies off my list. I will not cave to crap. Talbots really went south. Sycamore Partners purchased them, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep this brand alive. I'm afraid Lands' End is dead to me. Brooks Brothers has me a little worried. I continue to notice more use of the word, "imported."

Hadilly said...

Ha! When I saw the catalogue, I hope you would comment on the fleeces. Words like "ersatz" and "inauthentic" certainly come to mind. What is particularly lame is that we are talking about mass manufacturing here - not to be too Walter Benjaminish in my critique - how hard can it be to make multiple wool sweaters?

Glad to hear you liked Woolovers. I just ordered an Aran and a Guernsey from them.

Anonymous said...

I just saw on L.L. Beans facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/llbean - that another person linked to your classic Is L.L. Bean on the Right Track? entry. I know L.L. Bean's image people are all over your site - I see your influence all over their marketing. Do you think they also promote your/our ideas up the chain, or do they feel frustrated and powerless themselves, or do you think they want credit for all of your ideas themselves? It speaks volumes to me that L.L. Bean has not invited you to spend a few days with them to both share with you and more importantly, learn from you. But then again, when the company is being controlled by these people (L.L. Bean Signature Article) with a CEO from Bridgeport, Connecticut, one can't be too surprised. And who knows, maybe L.L. Bean just really wants to be JC Penney.

Anonymous said...

I live in Massachusetts but haven't worn a heavy woolen sweater in more than thirty-five years now. To me they seem anachronistic, at least for the sort of life I lead. (Maybe others are involved in more outside fall and winter activities than I am. I don't play touch football. I don't go out on fishing boats, etc.) Is it possible that I'm not just an isolated case and that far fewer people wear heavy woolen sweaters nowadays? They can be uncomfortable in so many contexts. Maybe there isn't enough demand for the stores to carry many of them.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE wool sweaters and refuse to buy these fake cotton "sweaters."

I bought my Norwegian sweater around 1983 or 4. I'm amazed at the current price, and glad mine has held out now for so long.

Anonymous said...

You know, one very neat thing about the old LL Bean was all the weird ancillary stuff they'd try to sell in addition to clothes: fishing pole bells, shortwave radios, unsinkable key chains, lobster trap furniture, just odd ball stuff. Added character and charm.

Sue said...

I've given away all my wool sweaters - along with anything with a close neckline. I was giving a DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) to a 5th grader, and the story was about the products sheep provide. His comment was, "What's wool?"
If there is any chance I'd purchase it, the neck would be less constricting and the material would involve a shrink-proof cotton.

nutrivore said...

@ Anonymous 7:44:

Are wool sweaters anachronistic? Well, I had a couple of Shetland sweaters from Edinburgh Woolen Mills I brought back from England 15 years ago.

I moved further north from CA and still didn't use them much 'cos the Patagonia fleeces I own are easier to wash and can take some abuse. I donated both my tartan sweaters about three years ago to the local thrift store. Then I realised how warm and gorgeous they were and how my fleeces may be more low maintenance, but just lack that something authentic and handmade that makes a good thing great. I looked high and low online for those gorgeous patterns, but never found them.

So I ordered a few British Wool sweaters from Woolovers and have been using them. I now rarely turn my heater above 60F and even when there's a snowstorm outside, I'm warm and toasty. I'll never part with my Guernsey and fisherman sweaters.

BlueTrain said...

I also wonder about wool sweaters. It used to be (40-some years ago) that tolerably nice wool sweaters were available everywhere. People wore them. People don't wear them so much now. I don't know if people don't wear them because stores don't carry them or the other way round.

I do have an excellent thick wool "commando" style sweater in a heather green that came from L.L.Bean maybe ten years ago. It was imported--from England. They don't import them from England anymore. But I also have another sweather from them, I think, that's equally practical, gets worn more (but still not a lot) and isn't make from pure wool. Don't have it with me, so I don't know the blend but it's held up very well.

And by the way, nothing last forever if you actually use it. It either wears out or, uh, gets too small. Real wool is also beloved of moths unless you're real, real careful.

Tim said...

What about this?: http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/75278?feat=594-GN1&page=heritage-sweater-norwegian-full-zip-lined&attrValue_0=Navy/White&productId=1246737

Looks pretty good to me.

Tim

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous (Oct. 5th 3:50pm)

I saw the gumshoes last week on sale at the King of Prussia, Pa store. Hopefully they're not being phased out!

The sales clerk mentioned that in our area (Philly suburbs) that the Bean boots are the new trendy boot of the fall season. He said they can't keep them on the shelves lately.

Carole said...

Thank you for mentioning WoolOvers. It will be such a pleasure to have a wool cardigan again. I've been nursing a baby cable wool cardigan from decades ago, but I can no longer wear it in public because it's so tattered.

I haven't purchased from LLBean in a couple of years. Bean used to be my go-to place for cotton turtlenecks but the quality is lacking nowadays.

Sad to see a venerable brand ground into the dirt.

Emma said...

It's so hard to find a good quality wool sweater now. it's not only sweaters but socks as well. I seems it's as hard to find a great wool sweater as it is a great pair of wool knee socks. In my day they came in all colors and styles. I'm partial to the cable knit ... yes I was a preppy then and I still am now. llbean last year had a wigwam version which aren't terrible but they're just not the same as I'd remembered, they don't come up to the knee; honestly I haven't found a pair anywhere that does really. There was a time when you had enough length to actually fold them at the top and make a nice cuff. Ugh ...

H. G. Wells said...

Just found your wonderful helpful and informative blog on LL Bean Norwegian sweaters.
I collect LL Bean and Dale Norwegian snowflake and/or reindeer men's XXL sweaters
I just paid on eBay $59.00 plus $11.00 shipping for a XXL LL Bean Norwegian reindeer vintage sweater in excellent condition.
If anyone is thinking of selling such item - let me know at ronshelleyis@gmail.com
I guess it is OK to put my email here??