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LL Bean 100th Anniversary Covers – The Art of Merchants


Catalog cover art seems to have gone the way of vinyl album jackets. A medium outdated by new technologies. In the case of albums, downloadable music to MP3 players and for catalogs, well…eCommerce. Both have been filed away in the nether areas of the brain.

But back in the day, iconic catalog retailers like LL Bean, Lands’ End and Orvis would stimulate the imagination with attention-grabbing covers, month after month after month. And while doing so, created the art of merchants.

LL Bean is celebrating its “100 Years of Exploring the Outdoors” in 2012.

Among other celebratory events, the company is recreating a number of its finest catalog covers. The first came in the mail today. It’s a stunning photograph that, with the aid of digital enhancements, looks like it might be a painting. The cover features a well-outfitted duffer, who clearly lost a “who can catch more fish” bet with a whipersnapper, fumbling for funds in his overall pockets.

The cover feels alive. From the brilliant reds of the rainbow trout undersides to the rich texture of the northern Maine pine forest background, this cover makes you want to be outside fishing – now!

On the company’s home page is a link to info on the covers, including how to buy one for yourself. The video on how the covers were made is worth the 2 1/2 minutes it takes to watch.

With this tribute to catalog cover art it’s possible LL Bean missed an opportunity by letting customers get involved in the selection of covers to be re-created, which clearly would have had viral potential on social media. But other than that, I’d say LL Bean got it mostly right. A defference to its history with an eye on product and the outdoors.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 08/25/2012 2:17 am

    Good morning, thanks for an especially engaging post, I will not as a general rule attach
    blog comments but really liked your blog post therefore , decided I would personally say thanks for your time –
    – Laila

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