L.L.Bean | 100 Years and Counting
Explore the L.L.Bean story in our interactive timeline below. Scroll left to right to learn more about each decade, or up and down to jump to the next one.
An outdoorsman first and a businessman second, L.L. Bean designed the Maine Hunting Shoe® simply because he wanted a better boot. Before he knew it, L.L. had a thriving mail-order operation catering to those who shared his love of nature.
Not content to merely sell a few pairs of boots from his shop to local farmers and woodsmen, L.L. dreamed bigger.
As competitors went belly-up during the depression, L.L.Bean continued to grow. Middle-class families who could afford vacations took to the wilderness, and L.L.Bean supplied the gear for their adventures.
World War II brought America together and L.L.Bean to Washington, as the company started outfitting servicemen with boots and outerwear. Back in Maine, L.L. continued to build a blossoming business that was steadily winning America over.
As orders continued to pour into the L.L.Bean offices and new products were regularly being introduced, the catalog grew both in size and circulation.
Enter Leon Gorman — L.L.’s grandson — a naturally savvy marketer who revamped the catalog and modernized the entire operation, while staying true to the principles on which the company was founded. By 1967, sales had doubled.
As the ’60s came to a close, a new breed of outdoor enthusiasts emerged — the backpackers. These young explorers looked to nature for peace and tranquility, and to L.L.Bean for clothing and gear.
L.L.Bean’s focus had always been on practical apparel, but demand was shifting to casualwear. Rather than choosing between the two, L.L.Bean embraced both, honoring tradition while acknowledging the future.
The emergence of online shopping made venturing into the digital age a snap for a company that just decades earlier pioneered 24-hour retailing and the convenience of ordering products from home.
With a flourishing business both online and off, L.L. might have been dazzled by the size and complexity of modern retail — but pleased to find his hard-won personal standards still guiding the company.