I don’t know what I expected to see when I opened Instagram a few days ago and had the usual torrent of ads pop up. I mean there were the usual things like terrible games and brands that I follow doing collection announcements, but I was completely unprepared to see the names “Todd Snyder” and “L.L. Bean” together.
I think there’s something incredible about a brand becoming more than just a label that’s printed on the tag or stitched onto a garment. In the case of L.L. Bean, the outdoor gear retailer that our parents fell in love with during their camping trips during their own young-adult lives, they’ve epitomized the lifestyle to such a degree that they’ve become eponymous for their comfortable, timeless outdoor gear. So to see this collaboration with Todd Snyder threw me for such a loop that I still don’t think I’ve recovered.
On one hand there’s Todd Snyder – one of the most recognizable names in fashion design around the world – and on the other there’s L.L. Bean, known for their somewhat silly looking boots and the vibe that the people who wear it are either smoking pipes in the forest or rushing to class on a snow-blown Tuesday morning. It’s a strange combination.
My first thought was “Oh god… this could never work”. But before we get into the fashion (which is why I’m here, at least) and discover why exactly I was so wrong to think that, let’s have a quick little discussion about the two names involved in the project. Todd Snyder and L.L. Bean.
Started in 1912 (the oldest brand I’ve covered in this blog by far), L.L. Bean is named after it’s founder and and namesake Leon Leonwood Bean, beginning as a mail-order service that he operated out of his basement. The Bean Boot was the first product made under the new outdoor brand and (though production issues caused 90% of the first production run to be returned), Bean continued to sell them after reworking and refining the design. Now, I dare you to find a college campus without at least 50 pairs of the things treading down the paths on the owner’s way to class.
The rest of the clothing fits well under the conceptual umbrella that the Bean Boot established. When designing clothing for the outdoor industry, there isn’t a lot of interest in superfluous design. Everything from the fabric to the stitching to the zipper pulls has to have a purpose or an intention behind the design. L.L. Bean epitomizes this idea and produces products that are well-thought, intentional and (for those that follow this brand religiously), perfect.
Todd Snyder, on the other hand, initially feels so far removed from the misty forests of northern Maine that a collaboration between these two brands feels almost impossible. However, I’m here and I’m writing about it so I guess I’ve got to summarize it.
Todd Snyder is an American fashion designer based out of New York with a eponymous label started in 2011. He’s worked for major brands such as J. Crew, GAP and Ralph Polo Lauren and has drawn heavy inspiration through his career from military styling, New York style and Savile Row craftsmanship.
This revarance for fashions some might consider “quintessentially American” is what prompted Snyder to do this collaboration with L.L. Bean, a brand that is considered one of the first to blend outdoors fashion with city-appropriate styling and design.
I ended up calling the collection From Away because (as I learned on our visits to Freeport) one is either a “Maine-Ah” (from Maine) or “From Away” (not from Maine). When the design team and I initially worked on the collection, we wanted the clothes to be a mash-up of those two worlds–the Maine woodsman and the urban adventurer. Now that every day is an adventure, I’m hoping these clothes will help you stay warm and stylish on your journey from away to back home.Todd Snyder
Bottoms: Not a whole lot of diversity happening here, but the pieces that are shown are paired with standard bottom options from Todd Snyder to complete the collection.
I’m not here the comment about some of the decisions that L.L. Bean has made in the past. Sure, they were founded during a different time and their ads might reflect some outdated attitudes from those eras, but brands have to evolve to stay relevant. I believe that this collaboration is Bean’s attempt to do that, and I can say that I absolutely love the results.
Thank you for reading! If you feel so inclined please leave a comment or follow the blog for future updates! I’m excited to see what happens for the month of October, and I think you guys are going to be big fans as well.