Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The L.L. Bean Boot

The L.L. Bean Boot: Now Style Over Substance?

Outdoor Boots

Spending time outdoors requires proper foot gear. Some examples:

The L.L. Bean Boot

One iconic, Americana example is L.L. Bean's The Bean Boot (Maine Hunting Shoe), designed and produced originally By Leon L. Bean.

Layering for Warmth
A Wide Variety of Boots At the L.L. Bean Freeport Store and Still Made in Maine
L.L. Bean Boots: Thinsulate/Goretex on the left,  and an unlined version bought in 1977 on the right. 

Reasons for Alternatives to the L.L. Bean Boot

Despite the language back on L.L. Bean's 2014 website - "The highest quality materials...Chances are, you'll only ever need one pair"- some have also experienced problems with recent Bean Boots.  This would be consistent with many customers' perceptions of rapidly declining L.L. Bean quality overall.

These heels wore out after just one season.
L.L. Bean quality decline?  The stitching gave out the morning of a big storm on another pair, after just a few months of wear.
Do L.L. Bean Boots discolor socks?  As shown here, worn with an unlined model, yes.  These stains don't come out in the wash.  One has to wonder about the quality of the dyes, thread and rubber.
Meanwhile, L.L. Bean continues to raise prices on their Bean Boots (2014 saw another $20 hike in some models) and market them very aggressively (flog them?) to the point of over-exposure in some areas, including New York City, Boston, Providence, and Bowen's/Bannister's Wharf in Newport.  Said one reader: "I go to school at SMU in Dallas, and I'd say Bean boots are to guys what Wellies are to girls. Although many undergrads wear them functionally, they are a major fad that is dying" (August 16, 2014).   L.L. Bean had been overtly positioning them as trendy fashion items with bright Instagram-friendly colors such as red and blue in 2014, but backed off in 2015.

For these reasons and others, many are increasingly looking at alternatives to the L.L. Bean Boot.

After a lifetime of Bean Boots, these Lined Donegal Boots, sent by Dubarry, proved to be a better fit.