Freeport, ME, September 29, 2021
Like most of L.L.Bean’s earliest outdoor goods, the company’s famed Fishing Jacket was created to solve real-life problems for dedicated outdoorsmen and women. First introduced in the 1920s as the Maine Fishing Coat, the original design solved a nagging issue for fisherman who had to maneuver around a side-sitting fishing basket, which was always in the way. In fact, the original jacket – made of midweight khaki cloth with double-stitched seams – became a one-piece assistant that was durable, functional and unknowingly fashion-forward.
Original features included rubber-lined front pockets for bait, a breast pocket for storing a fishing license, and a shoulder loop for holding a rod in place while tying flies. A convenient fish bag with ventilated net sides and an easy-to-clean aluminum bottom were attached to the back of the jacket. When mailing the all-in-one jacket to customers, Leon Leonwood Bean (L. L.) would often throw in free fly books and hook holders to ensure they had everything they needed for a day on the water.
“The idea with the original Maine Fishing Coat was to give sportsmen who were spending hours on the river the ability to carry all their gear on their body,” L.L.Bean senior designer Talia Daly explained. “The original fabric had a waxy finish—which is how we waterproofed clothing back then.”
Bean's Fishing Coat as it appeared in the 1930 L.L.Bean Catalog
While the Fishing Coat was a fixture in the L.L.Bean catalog throughout the 1920s and 30s, little is known about when it disappeared from catalog pages, though elements of its durable design live on today in the Waxed Cotton Upland Vest and Coat.
Most recently, the Fishing Jacket was reprised in fresh colorways and a tailored fit as part of “Upta Camp” – the second installment of L.L.Bean’s collaboration with menswear designer Todd Snyder – further capitalizing on its functional, enduring appeal.
The Fishing Jacket is a standout piece in the Upta Camp collection, which pays homage to classic field wear and hunting and fishing gear. Many looks are based on iconic, utilitarian apparel from the L.L.Bean archives, including a reboot of the 1930s-era Fishing Coat.
Fishing Jacket from the L.L.Bean x Todd Snyder Upta Camp Collection.
Vintage L.L.Bean Fishing Coat
“Todd purchased an original vintage fishing jacket online and came to us with the idea to include it in his Fall 2021 collection,” Daly said. “He believed the design stood the test of time and fit perfectly with his ‘Upta Camp’ vision… and we agreed.”
Snyder and the L.L.Bean team took steps to stay true to the original design while adding a few modern touches, like camouflage linings on the interior pockets. “It’s such a clean, classic heritage piece for the everyman that’s still on trend today due to its similarity to popular military or safari-style jackets,” Daly said. “It’s a great transitional layer that’s not too heavy and not too light and can be worn three seasons.”
Whether you’re waking up early to drop a line or just looking for an all-purpose lightweight jacket, shop the L.L.Bean x Todd Snyder Fishing Jacket, available for a limited time.