|Here is something rarely copied from the L.L. Bean archives.|
While Shawn Gorman will no doubt receive a lot of advice, he could do worse than add Is L.L. Bean on the right track? to his reading list.
Then, while I am sure Shawn Gorman has read the thoughts of Leon Gorman and Chris McCormick in Leon Gorman's book, L.L. Bean: The Making of an American Icon, here are some especially interesting quotes from each:
- "Our overall strength was functional value – products that did what they were supposed to do, did it every time, and did it for a long time, all for a reasonable price. This was what L.L. Bean was known for."
- Quoting Gentlemen’s Quarterly – “…emphasis on simplicity, practicality and durability. Unlike “high fashion” where “look” is foremost and function secondary, the appearance of Bean apparel is guided by what the clothes are intended to do.”
- “We also never put a lot of editorial content or outdoors imagery in our catalogs. We relied on our products and their descriptions to tell who we were.”
- “L.L. Bean as fashion was a mixed blessing for us, and we all knew it. Our sales increased markedly in the near term but were unlikely to be sustainable long term. In addition, being fashionable was a serious contradiction of our character and brand positioning. It confused our positioning internally as well as in the marketplace.”
- “We continued to use our employees and their families, friends, and dogs as models. We didn't want to come across as slick or sophisticated (and we didn't want to pay expensive fees for professional models)."
- "I don’t want to overstate it but we were lagging on our sourcing competencies. I'm guessing 60 or 70 percent of our items were probably sourced in the (United States) then. Maybe a little bit less than that but not much. What the consultants pointed out is that the world had moved offshore. Yes it would be nice if we could keep sourcing products in the (United States), but, realistically, all those jobs were going offshore anyway. The competencies were leaving this country and from a competitive standpoint we really had no choice. The quality, by the way, would be just as good, if not better than the (United States). So we created the sourcing department and gave them marching orders to improve our margins and reduce our cost of goods sold."
- "To this day (sourcing) was probably the most successful thing that came out of the Strategic Review. Today maybe 20 percent of our items are made in the (United States), and the rest are offshore… The cost of goods initiative was probably the single biggest reason the year 2000 was as successful as it was. That’s when our business really turned around. It wasn't so much sales growth that drove the performance of that year, it was improving margins that improved profitability of that year."
|Some of our Bean's items from about 40 years ago. How many companies produced clothes in the 1970's that are still wearable today?|
** Added after the original post **
Dave T asked in the comments section what kind of jacket was in the photo above. It is their Warden Jacket, and we all had one in my family. So I have added a few photographs.
Below are two photographs of my father in his, in Kenya, along with his chukka boots from Barrie (which was adjacent to the J. Press store in New Haven).
Below is a photograph of my mother in the late 70s in Damariscotta in hers, along with her sailboat wrap around skirt and her Jacques Cohen espadrilles.