Yesterday I was able to spend some time on a conference/video chat with L.L. Bean’s Creative Director Alex Carleton, who talked about mining the LL bean archives of over 100 years to gather inspiration for the new fall 2010 L.L. Bean Signature collection.
Alex said editing was the biggest challenge for the fall line – “Where to start and where to begin; the great thing about the company is that there are all these decades that we can draw inspiration from, and looking at the decades so that they can inform our design process today. Defining New England style, based in the outdoors, preppy yet rustic, versatility, a collection that can take you from the country to the city,” were all key elements that he noted.
He also named Ali MacGraw as inspiration, who looked and personified the style of the line. Otherwise, the style for fall is natural, rich colors, classic styling, tailored fit, retro prints and patterns, and the line overall is based on mix and match.
Alex wanted it to be nspired by your parents closet when you were a kid, thinking about things one might look back at with nostalgia. He noted the incredible authenticity, such as a vintage L.L. Bean coat with a note from the original owner in the pocket about all the places the coat had traveled, and unexpected but earthy and organic colors that can be found in the fall 2010 men’s collection.
I asked him “Where would you like to see the line three years down the line, and are there any plans to team up with brick and mortar retailers?”
His reply: “Three years down the line, I can see the line continuing to grow and take on more energy and excitement as people learn about it – it is something very easily incorporated into your wardrobe. There is a practical edge to the line that will let it continue and evolve. It’s based on classics, so I don’t see that it could trend out as a typical fashion line could. Based on classics, based on tradition will give it a long shelf life. We are designing pieces that can exist in your closet for many years. As for retail plans, we are constantly thinking about new ways of reaching the customer. Right now we are fcoused on created the brand, creating the product, and getting it out through our channels.”