Monday, May 20, 2013

L.L. Bean’s grandson Leon Gorman is retiring as company chairman...

Here is something rarely copied from the L.L. Bean archives.
L.L. Bean's grandson, Leon Gorman, is retiring as chairman.  The founder's great-grandson, Shawn Gorman, will be the new chairman.

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 one can be pretty 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:

Leon Gorman:
  • "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)."


Chris McCormick:
  • "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  Bean's items from about 40 years ago.  How many companies produced clothes in the 1970's that are still wearable today?  



68 comments:

Chris said...

I wish Leon Gorman a long and happy retirement. And here is one fact, from your blog, Muffy: " Of the 55 items offered in the new L.L. Bean Signature catalog, only 3 are made in the United States."

Anonymous said...

I recently ordered the Boat and Tote Bag as part of a Mother's Day gift. Upon delivery, I found loose strings and uneven lines on the item. I sent an email of concern to the Bean Customer Service Department and to their credit, they offered an exchange along with free shipping.

According to the site, the Boat and Tote Bag is still produced in Maine but I do question the integrity of their craftsmanship if such shoddy work was allowed to pass through their quality check with a stamp of approval for delivery. Their standards are clearly lower as prices have increased substantially in recent years so this begs the question, can Bean be saved?

I don't know but moving forward I will resist buying anything from them until I feel they've heard our collective complaints loud and clear. This is clearly not your Father's Bean. I'm done with them.

scotmiss said...

Oh how I hoped they would announce the first woman chairman, known only as Muffy, who promises to restore LLBean to the extraordinary quality, beloved, iconic brand we all knew from the past.

mondaypartlycloudy said...

But maybe Muffy will take a position at Bean that will have far more impact - i.e. design director or even CEO. She's probably their best hope at this point (which they ought to understand by now if they've been reading Muffy's blog) and if she took such a job I think it might be a good next step (although I would certainly miss TDP!). Or, as another reader mentioned the other day, maybe start a line of quality traditional clothing of her own?

Anonymous said...

I vote for Muffy to at least be a consultant. My big request would be to get them to make some decent khakis for women. I'm done with them too--tired of sending things back. The t-shirts I purchased from them a couple of summers ago had holes with a couple of washings. I didn't bother to contact them about this, but I probably should have.

I've crossed so many off my list of sources, that I don't think I even have a go-to place.

Dave T said...

Is that the field coat on the far left of the photo? If yes, when was it made? I was trying to make out the tag. I like, have in some cases, everything you've displayed. Thanks Muffy.

Oxford Cloth Button Down said...

Muffy,

My brother in-law, a resident of Maine and although he was far from being fashion conscious he once told me that clothes shopping to him meant going to Bean.

For some reason this post reminded me of that.I always liked the simplicity that was behind what he said.

Muffy Aldrich said...

@Dave T - It was the Warden Jacket and I have just added three older photos to the entry.

scotmiss said...

OCBD, for years, my entire wardrobe came from LLBean, Talbots and Brooks Bros. with my khakis, polos, sweaters (90% of my wardrobe) all coming from Bean. The khakis are all at least 5 years old and doing very well. I hate the thought of having to replace them - I'm not sure where I'll find the quality of my old Bean. I was at Colby and contrary to my father's oft told tale, I did not go there just to be in the same state, so I fully understand your brother- in-law's comment - a trip to Freeport in the middle of the night was an initiation. cheers!

mary anne said...

Hey, if Muffy works for Bean in any capacity that will surely mean she won't have time for this blog!! Lets just hope Bean will listen to those of us who have been faithful for decades and bring back the quality we all loved. Emphasis on the past tense.

James N. said...

We can hope that this news may bring about a positive change to L.L. Bean. That they may get back to the ideals upon which they were founded. Quality, American made, no hideous "signature" line of ugliness.
In reality, the great-great grandson of Mr. Bean looks a "signature" kinda guy.

Anonymous said...

If I had found this blog earlier, no, if you had started this blog way earlier, I would have and could have stock filed ll bean stuffs ahead.
You and your blog are simply amazing.

NEW Communications said...

It's hard to find classic basics in small-town Wisconsin, so I still order from Bean once in a while. The quality is not what it once was, to be sure, but the styles are preferable to the 70s-throwback paisleys in local stores.

It will be most interesting to see where this change leads...

briefly on the other side of the pond said...

L.L. Bean has lost its way. Like many other businesses which were once icons of American lifestyle. The change toward cheap goods, manufactured in third world countries, puts L.L. Bean on par with Wal-Mart. It must come down to money, money, money. The name L.L. Bean has nostalgic value. The powers that be at Bean know this and use it for grabbing all the cash they can.

Certainly, I still purchase a few things from L.L. Bean, but when items arrive often they lack quality. Pant legs feature one leg longer than the other; one shoe is larger than the other, etc. But, the money must be pouring in from those who still believe Bean is something special.

Muffy, I see from your blog that others have mentioned a "Muffy line" of clothing and goods which meet the quality standards so many of your readers are seeking. You do an excellent job of providing guidance on where to find certain items, but I agree with so many others, that you could create a "one stop shopping opportunity" for the things we desire. I don't think L.L. Bean would allow you to create a "Muffy line" for that might interfere with the cash grab plan. You would be a fabulous consultant!!

So many blog-spots promote pseudo preppy, but your blog is the only one I trust to point me in the right direction.

I agree totally with another comment that the new Gorman face of L.L. Bean looks like a Signature Man. Likely never held a fly rod in his hand. (Watch, a new catalogue/website photo will feature a photograph of him with a fly rod and nice trout!)

Love your blog Muffy!!!

Lisa said...

Love the picture of your Mom in her Jacques Cohen espadrilles!..Oh how i miss those!...I wish these would be manufactured again..I would buy them in every color just as i had them in the early 80's....

Anonymous said...

Muffy for CEO!

Flo said...

I sure hope he is listening to the grumbles more than his predecesor has. Something has to give in the clothing industry as a whole, perhaps this is just the person to shake things up. Would be nice if he offered you a consultants job though!

Anonymous said...

Lisa, last summer I discovered The Espadrille Store. Yu can google them if you want. Company out of Canada I believe but the shoes are made in Spain. Reasonably priced and so comfy. Just an FYI.

sara said...

Lisa - www.Soludos.com is another good resource for espadrilles. If you wear larger than a size 10, you have to order from the men's section. They are comfortable and wear well; you might want to check them out too.

Lisa said...

Thank You "anonymous" and Sara!..

Anonymous said...

I vote for Muffy being appointed CEO or in charge of quality control at LL Bean. She would definitely have those Asian/American manufacturers toe the line and produce quality goods that the name LL Bean use to represent.

Anonymous said...

I am struck by the contrast between the two sets of quotes. I would also strongly suggest that L.L. Bean hire some people with taste.

Anonymous said...

I used to love the old LL Bean catalogue (see the recent HTJ blog on the '82 catalogue). . . chock full of nice stuff plus the occasional whacky contraption/contrivance. . . the keychain that floats, the lobster trap coffeetable, the apple peeler machine, etc.

Used to be a mild entertainment in itself and these things used to give one a reason to read the catalogue. I'm male, so forgive me if I tend to be a bit more likely to throw catalogues away!

Someone should tell the New Guy that quality is worth it in these times. It really stands out when everybody on the block is selling the same old schlock.

Anonymous said...

Forget the CEO stuff, Muffy for LL Bean CZAR!

John said...

This McCormick quote jumped out at me: "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." Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a logical fallacy. Even it were true that "the competencies were leaving" (note the implied use of the passive voice), this says nothing about LLB's own US supply chain, which presumably was strong enough to support the company. Second, this completely ignores the degree to which LLB's own decisions accelerated the process (which might explain the passive voice).

I don't know whether this will meet Muffy's definition of facts for the reporter's use, but here's a story. I spent the summer of 1985 working in Hong Kong as a paralegal. My boss, a Californian, had not been to the East Coast in many years. But while in Boston, he took a day to drive up to Freeport and outfit himself. That's what LL Bean was. Today, would that happen except as a tourist destination?

binker said...

I knew Shawn well for many years. He's a great guy. I think, unless he has changed, that he would be receptive to the concerns about product quality. Having said, I think keeping the price point down is a huge problem for many retailers. They want to remain accible to those of various incomes...and, not just those who have the means to afford the significantly higher prices that made-in-America would inevitably bring. It is a conundrum. Personally, I would prefer fewer additions to my wardrobe each year, for the added cost of of LL Bean returning to the classic quality it was once known for.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McCormick really has no clue, does he?? The problem with clothing today is that all of the manufacturers/designers are trying to lure all of the demographics, and that doesn't work. All you end up with is the same old thing with different labels. Muffy, you would be a far more fitting choice as chairman!! Bean would actually have some hope. --Holly in PA

WRJ said...

It's hard to imagine Bean righting itself as long as it's making money. What's the incentive when, as the linked article on Leon Gorman describes, revenues increased under his reign from $2.5 million to $1.5 billion (which I'm sure has in turn drastically enriched the officers and directors responsible for overseeing company policy). You would think that as a private, family-owned company Bean would feel some imperative to maintain its history, tradition, and reputation, but if so you might have underestimated the intoxicating lure of being not just very, very, very rich, but extraordinarily rich.

The degree of alienation of the "family talent" (to quote Leon) from Bean's core competencies (to employ the corporate jargon I'm sure infects their headquarters) is evident from the fact that Bean had to hire consultants to teach it how to run its business. It's interesting that local Maine press doesn't mention the cost of Bean's growth, which is taking jobs out of its local economy and sending them overseas. I guess paying out a few bonuses counts as absolution.

Tennessee said...

Bean could easily carve out a new 'old school' section, like Canvas but not, and aim it at people who like Daily Prep items. They could continue with the other $1.5B Hong Kong stuff at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Wow--a memory flooding back! I hadn't thought about my Jacques Cohen espadrilles for years, but of course in the 70's, I had to have them!

Laurie Ann Meyer said...

Jacques Cohen espedrilles! Remembering the seventies.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee's idea is a good one. Bean wouldn't even have to stock the goods; they could be made to order. There must still be people in Maine who have the experience to make the items and there must be people who need jobs.

As long as Bean is making money and giving bonuses to their employees, things aren't going to change much.

One of the things which drives me crazy about getting older is hearing people say "well, things will swing back the other way". No; they won't. The majority of people don't make much money now, don't care how they present themselves, want quantity over quality, and want to spend their money on the latest tech gadget. They don't want to wear clothes which last 5, 10 or 20 years; they want new things each season. And let's face it, if you & your wife are both making $10-$15 an hour, you don't have enough disposable income to buy $300 purses and $90 shirts.

Paul Connors said...

The business related comments mentioned here by others andd attributed to L.L. Bean's current CEO and President are nothing more than the regurgitations of every-day business jargon and propaganda. Sadly, it seems that Bean is no different than any other large business with sales north of $1 Billion per year.

The comments by everyone who posted to this thread today speak volumes, as have those about Bean posted by many others previously.

It seems as if in far too many things, manufacturing quality has fallen off at a rate that equals or even exceeds the speed of outsourcing and "offshoring."

My recent rant about the precipitous decline in styles and quality at Brooks Bros. is the direct result of my frustration with a once great marque that all too sadly lost its way some years ago. Claudio Del Vecchio's ownership is only exacerbating the problem (and I think the anger and despair of so many erstwhile loyal customers like me).

Bean, like so many retailers HAS lost its way and I think the fact that is proven with every return made by folks who post here, as well as the thousands of non-TDP readers who do so and who we never hear about.

This is a company I now buy from selectively. It is no longer a destination for my clothing purchases. Instead, it has become just one of several stores I utilize from time-to-time and it has lost its position as one of 2 or 3 preferred vendors I consider.

Muffy, as for your 2013 chart, I must sadly conclude that some of the companies that have moved to the right may be beyond repair/redemption/salvation.

Margaret Murtagh said...

My mom had those wraparound skirts...just loved them. I think she still has them! I was just telling my sisters how I wish we had those espadrilles in the low height, not flat, but just enough height to look nice with skirts. We had them in every color and we shared them. When we would go away in the summer, all our espadrilles were lined up under the bureau...the three of us shared a room together...

Anonymous said...

Margaret: weren't those wrap around skirts (especially the ones with deep pockets) great? Cool, comfortable and a little forgiving if necessary.

For some reason, your comment made me wonder why companies like Villager, Pappagallo, John Meyer, etc. go out of business? Must have been changing tastes and styles - just like today.

scotmiss said...

Margaret and anonymous, my mother and all of her sisters wore the wraparound skirts and oh how we all loved our espadrilles! Every colour possible but they didn't survive more than one season for me! I loved Pappagallo and Villager, I also remember a company called Cos Cob (?) lots of madras. cheers!

Dave T said...

Muffy, thank you. There were some details that I noticed on your Warden that aren't on my field coat so my curiousity was piqued. Your father field tested his coat in the truest sense.

@Paul Connor: Perfectly written.

Anonymous said...

scotmiss, I can't imagine a better CEO/CFO for LLB than Muffy. As much as I hate the idea of any family business going outside the family, I would love to see The Daily Prep changing things for the better. I would even tolerate the absence of the blog in the cause of restoring Bean to greatness.

All of these brands (even LLB, even with the line which shall not be named) can be saved.

NEW Communications said...

Scotmiss and Anonymous at 7:21, I do recall the brands you mention, especially John Meyer and Cos Cob. I had a few pieces of both, whatever I could get my hands on here in the Upper Midwest.

It was John Meyer of Norwich advertisements in Seventeen Magazine that shaped my ideas of what New England women wore: Denim shirtwaists, Shetland sweaters, plaid skirts and barn jackets. I have always made sure my wardrobe included those essentials.

Flo said...

Oh, I forgot about the lobster trap coffee table, I always wanted one of those!

re: people not wanting to buy clothing that lasts 5, 10, 15 years--that's not the main issue I think most of us are having lately. I want something that is sized correctly (and consistently), and that is well made out of the bag! I can't tell you how many times I've had to make repairs to something after one or two washings and how many items in need of a minor repair (but in otherwise good shape) that I've found at thrift stores. A clothing item should last more than a couple of months without needing repaired, stretching/shrinking, fading, etc!

BlueTrain said...

There are some funny things in this thread. When I was little, my clothes came from G.C. Murphy. I never heard of L.L.Bean until I was in college, around 1970. I also didn't want anything like a button-down collar shirt. I had spent two years in Europe and that's the kind of stuff I wanted. Still do, too.

L.L. Bean once called itself a manufacturer. When did they last actually make anything in their own shops? Imported? During the hey day of New England shoe manufacturing, the labor itself was imported. Then manufacturing went south, literally.

What I don't really understand is, why does anyone care about L.L. Bean as a company? A company exists to make money for "the residual owner," as they teach in business, although that may not be the primary goal (which is to stay in business--or to make money for the management). But then I remember the old G.C. Murphy better than the old L.L. Bean.

I wonder if they ever met.

Anonymous said...

I just want to find clothing in simple, classic styles that is well-made - and not my exploiting people. Period. Don't care if it comes from LL Bean or JC Penney.

Anonymous said...

I like Tennessee's idea very much. My husband and I have ( and still wear) Bean from the 70's and 80's. I also have "my own vintage" of Brooks Brothers, J Crew and Talbots. My husband bought a nice down coat from Bean when he was in high school with his own money. When I met him in college, he was still wearing it. We had the zipper repaired for no charge about 10 years ago. Our 20-year old now wears the jacket. I still shop at Bean for the following: totes, socks and flannel sleepwear for the men of the family. I shop carefully for just a few things each year and continue to wear my older items and buy jewelry. We still wear older polos, sweaters (including my husband in his Norwegian sweater), chamois tops, flannel tops,a coat in my case, and older boots, shoes and jackets. My husband still stubbornly shops at Brooks Brothers, although I do not. Now, it's just the occasional rare selection from Talbots, Ralph Lauren, vintage shops, Pure Collection, directly from vendors... slim pickings out there!

John D said...

I hope to see more essential pieces being made in the US because of the growing middle class in China. Or being assembled in the US.

By the way Muffy, your post has great timing, I am writing my senior thesis on US China trade relations and how it affects the US economy.

C. Mitchell said...

Great photo of some classic Bean gear. I still purchase quite a bit of Bean clothing and gear, while I agree with the quality not being what it was in the 70's and 80's, it is still for the most part solid. The customer service is still top notch as well. I've purchased a fair amount of fly fishing gear and canoes from them over the years and Bean has unfailingly made repairs or replacements to some of my rods at no cost. I too wish that they made nearly everything in the US, but I still think they are a company worth doing business with, and the bulk of what you purchase from Bean will last.

scotmiss said...

About 30 years ago my husband and I took a three week driving vacation out to Vermont, NH, the Cape and Maine. He had never been back east except for business in Boston, so I wanted to treat him to the real New England. Our last part was in Maine, so a trip to LLBean was mandatory. I had introduced him to Bean's catalogue shopping, but when we walked in "the" store he was like a kid in a candy shop. Long story short, by the time we loaded up the Jeep with all we bought, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. Since we were going to have to go thru customs (we're in Michigan), it was a quick trip back in the store for them to ship everything home, except the iconic lobster trap table which is still at the cottage. That is my Bean - one store and everything packed into that store! I still shop there - best dog beds, boat & totes and some tops - but much less than before.

We also had a parody of the catalogue in the 1980's, it was richly hilarious! cheers!

The Mr Jinx said...

In response to the silly statement about Shawn Gorman never having held a fly rod in his life, you're quite off the mark (what a beauty that anyone with a keyboard gets to share their baseless thoughts). Shawn taught me how to fly fish a few years back on an amazing trip we took with our Fathers up in the Rangeley Lake area of Maine.

His commitment to the employees of LL Bean, his family and of the outdoors will help guide him no doubt as he seeks to continue delivering great value to Bean's customers.

I will continue to embrace the LL Bean brand as long as they continue to value my hard earned dollars and provide me value backed with their unrivaled commitment to customer satisfaction.

Jason

Harry said...

In response to Jason's comment, I am pleased to hear that Shawn Gorman enjoys fly fishing and he certainly sounds like a good guy. I do hope that he brings the company closer to its roots, though, for Bean has gone down a road this past decade or so that many on this blog, in general, and my family, in particular, do not at all like. We have had to return coats whose sleeves came apart (3 mos.), coats that arrive with pockets sewn shut (present for wife), flimsy tee shirts with thin fabric and sweaters with poor stitching.

I agree that Bean has an "unrivaled commitment to customer satisfaction" for they will return anything, it seems. In my opinion, though, this is not great value to Bean's customers. Great value would be to have higher quality goods that last a long, long time. This would mean selling less clothing, perhaps, but I would rather have 5 really good sweaters versus 10 or 15 shoddy ones. Besides, think of all the unnecessary waste this no-questions-asked return policy generates. I also think of the working conditions Bean's contractors are subjected to in the 3rd World. We don't hear much of that side of Bean's "success" story.

Anonymous said...

Many coats and jackets are sold with pockets lightly stitched. The stitching is removed by the purchaser. I will admit that I have left some business attire pockets sewn shut because it looks better, although I am certain this practice is akin to putting pennies in loafers...

Katahdin said...

@Anonymous MAY 23, 2013 AT 1:51 PM

Well, I do hope you remove the price tags at least...

Anonymous said...

I am not optimistic about their return to our beloved Bean of years ago, but I don't see how it would hurt to at least offer a "heritage collection" of some basics that are important to many of us. Khakis for women would be at the top of my list. Yes, I would pay more for quality. I realize that they are good about taking things back, but I don't even want to order anything from them because of so many disappointments.

By the way, I noticed that BB is selling some stuff on television. I saw it listed in the guide. I didn't look to see what it was, but I guess it has come to that for them. I never thought I would see that. It wasn't QVC but some CBS or NBC shopping channel.

Anonymous said...

Katahdin, I do remove the tags. (Unless I'm channeling Minnie Pearl, that is.)

Harry said...

As mentioned above, lightly stitched pockets may be okay for some, but our experience differed from "lightly" to "firmly sewn shut." The coat, a Baxter State Parka, was returned/replaced and the 2nd one arrived with usable pockets -- a delight in a snowstorm or inclement weather.

WRJ said...

Can't imagine what relevance enjoying fly fishing has to running a decent company that exemplifies the values of quality, classicism, and thrift. Many of the architects of the global recession and practitioners of slash-and-burn globalism probably enjoy fly fishing, too.

Strongly agree with the others here who mention that "value" is not replacing shoddy items with new shoddy items, which is Bean's current practice. That's just wasteful.

Anonymous said...

Forget about L.L. Bean if you don't like their stuff. Bill's Khakis makes old-style pants for a reasonable price; decent sweaters are still being sold by J. Press, O'Connell's, and a bunch of other smaller online outlets; Filson sells good hunting and fishing jackets and all-wool outdoor clothing; Aerostich (a motorcyclist store) sells incredible good light-weight camping equipment. You can get the work-shirts from one place and the engineer shoes from another (as to the latter, nothing beats White's Boots). Lehman Hardware, an Amish online outfit in Ohio, sells made-to-last-forever stuff for kitchen and cabin. And so on. Just about any item in any old-time L.L. Bean catalogue can still be found at equal or better quality for a reasonable or slightly higher than reasonable price.

I am not a preppie and I don't like New England much (too many hills, too close to the ocean, too much preciosity) but I appreciate the desire for old-fashioned goods. But where I come from folks don't spend as much time whining about what's gone and is not coming back, as many of the commenters on this blog certainly do. So do your research and buy from people who sell what you want.

Jessica P said...

I just found your very informative LLBean-related posts after a Google search of esentially "LLBEAN WTF?!?"

I just bought over $600 in Bean items for my twin toddler girls whom we're taking to visit cousins in Maine(!) this summer. I live in California and hadn't bought any LL Bean for maybe 20 years; I had warm memories of Bean clothing and accessories, staples of my East Coast relatives, and as a mom concerned about natural fibers with no chemical finishes, I assumed I couldn't go wrong with what was surely fine American-made iconic clothing.

So imagine my shock when I received the "Jersey Knit Capri Sleepwear" and discover it wasn't cotton jersey but pure polyester, complete with flame-retardant chemical finish. I would have noticed this in the item description if I'd not blindly trusted that LLBean could never change. Ugh! Yes, great that I can send stuff back for free, but do they know how difficult it is to mail ANYTHING with twin toddlers to look after?

I have also learned by accident just now, thanks to this Google search, that all the no-iron shirts and pants (not just LLBean's) are that way because of a good dousing in formaldehyde. Awesome.

Chris said...

Anonymous 6:19 PM - That is a great list of Post-Beans vendors. The value to me of these conversations is to more quickly come to terms with how fast and far L.L. Bean has fallen. To some degree it is literally unbelievable. If not for the experiences of others, I might think that I had gotten a bad pair of chinos or a weird, shoddy, worthless leather magazine box. Brand loyalty and an assumption of common sense, plus their "often saying the right thing" marketing, can prolong the painful period of denial. Now I much better understand that the pool of items has shrunk to a puddle.

WRJ said...

6:19: It's not whining, it's cranky complaining about how things aren't the way that they used to be, and it's a centuries-old regional pastime. Add it to your list of dislikes. Your point that there still exist decent products in the world is not lost on most people here, and I agree. But for those who grew up with LL Bean, it's completely natural to be dismayed by its current state.

But hey! Tomato/tomahto--flat, land-locked, and banal wouldn't work for me, and New England doesn't work for you.

Anonymous said...

Jessica P,
I buy a lot of my daughter's (she is 8, and I insist on dressing her like an actual child, not a tiny teenager)dresses at Tea and Hanna Anderson. You cannot beat the long john pajamas at Hanna. My daughter absolutely loves them. Also, Tea is having a great sale this weekend.

http://www.hannaandersson.com/home.asp

http://www.teacollection.com/

Paul Connors said...

@ Dave T:

Thank you!

Paul Connors said...

@ 6:19 and all.

Whether one likes or dislikes NE is perhaps an existential question better left for other venues.

Quite frankly, Muffy does an exceptionally fine job keeping this blog not only informative and intersting, but visually appealing with her father's photography and her own and Mr. Muffy Aldrich, too.

Does the fact that we all read this blog and post here mean we are all preppies? Maybe and maybe not. However, there must have been enough of a common thread of interest that keeps us here.

As for differences in perspective and the informational value of what is posted here by both Muffy and others, I have to confess that I have learned a great deal from everyone here and for that I am most grateful to you all.

This blog is a genuine labor of love and one that exhibits and showcases both talent and quality. Those of us who may sound like whiners are probably old enough and sentimental enough to lament the loss of what we grew up with and remember so fondly and that is why we whine, cringe or seem dumbstruck by so many of the negative changes we have observed and must endure.

Muffy, on the other hand, manages to continue to provide exceptional content while graciously encouraging her readers to post their own thoughts with a magnanimity and warmth that is all too rare these days. I think we all should remember that.

And yes, tomato, tomahto. In the end, they serve the same purpose. When I think of differences and all the places I served in the military (a few not quite so pleasant or welcoming), the differences I encounter now seem a lot les important.

So keep on posting and remember, without Muffy Aldrich, none of us would have this blog to learn from.

Anonymous said...

Messrs. Connors and WRJ: I get it. Where you live, complaining about L.L. Bean's long-declined standards is being "cranky"; where I come from, it's whining. Where you are, bemoaning the lost past is "a centuries-old pastime"; where I am, it's a waste of time. Where you live, the difference is "existential"; where I live, it's essential. You like salt-water inlets, messing around on teeny-weeny boats, and pretty flowers on the hillside; I like two feet of black-loam topsoil, soybean-rows flat to the horizon, and Massey Ferguson combines that are bigger than a typical New England village, or hamlet, or whatever you call them.

Perhaps the old labels like L.L. Bean or Brooks Brothers remind you of the third form at St. Grottlepuss or Ivy Club at Princeton or that wonderful summer in 1968, but those days are gone and the labels are now what in analytical semiotics is known as "schmutz." Stuff is just stuff. Buy it from those who still make it the way you like. They need your business.






Anonymous said...

I just ordered a pullover sweater from LL Bean. It's made in China, but the quality - relative to the price - was excellent.

Anonymous said...

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.

Anonymous said...

In re-reading some of these comments as well as others on other posts, I have to say that in some cases the "graciousness" is questionable.

Sadly the world of clothing and retail manufacturing has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Perhaps we can only hope the pendulum will swing back again some day, to a time when high-quality clothing was made in the USA by workers getting a fair wage in safe working conditions.

BlueTrain said...

I wonder if high-quality clothing ever was made in the USA by workers getting a fair wage in safe working conditions. Even if it was, there was a huge market for cheaply made clothing, too, because there were plenty of people who weren't getting a fair wage.

I also wonder what hasn't changed in the last 30 to 40 years. Everytime I mention something from that period, be it tobacco farming in western Massachusetts to glass making in West Virginia, it always ends with the same statement: I'll bet that's all gone now, with a shake of the head.

M said...

Jacques Cohen espadrilles....sigh.

Anonymous said...

Blue Train, you are spot on. I'm thinking of Triangle Shirtwaist...

Everything has changed. We just have to accept it and move on, or work to reverse the changes we don't like...