A Tradition of Quality and Innovation
In 1911 an avid outdoorsman named Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean returned from a hunting trip with cold, damp feet and a revolutionary idea. He enlisted a local cobbler to stitch supple leather uppers to waterproof rubber boots, creating a comfortable, functional boot for exploring the Maine woods. This ingenious invention - the Maine Hunting Shoe - changed outdoor footwear forever and, a year later, began one of the most successful family-run businesses in the country.
The first Maine Hunting Shoes were sold exclusively via mail order. A 1912 flyer proclaimed: "You cannot expect success hunting deer or moose if your feet are not properly dressed. The Maine Hunting Shoe is designed by a hunter who has tramped the Maine woods for the last 18 years. We guarantee them to give perfect satisfaction in every way." To this day L.L.Bean backs its products with the same quality guarantee.
By the time Model Ts were rolling along the streets of Freeport, L.L.'s three-page fliers had become thick catalogs full of field-tested gear, all-weather outerwear and men's and women's clothing "designed for comfort as well as style." Besides doing brisk mail-order business, L.L. began selling direct to retail customers, attracting customers from around the world to his flagship store in downtown Freeport.
Although almost 100 years have passed since L.L.Bean began, its guiding principles have remained the same: an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction and a firm belief in the value of authenticity.