I love what LL Bean Signature is doing, for the most part. LL Bean is a historic corporation known for their classic northeast outdoors clothes. Think preppy families who love hiking and live in Massachusetts or further north. LL Bean Signature, LL Bean’s more modern imprint does a good job of capturing the feel of pre-1990s LL Bean. The signature line is also a good example of what the main line is not: LL Bean’s usual range of clothing is mass-produced in China and cut wider and fuller (read: for more robust Americans). In the 1970s a LL Bean catalog was a window to a WASP-y northeast outdoors preppy paradise. Now, the LL Bean catalog you get in the mail is more like for everywhere USA’s idea of the outdoors.
With that aesthetic as a contrast, what LL Bean Signature is doing well becomes even more pronounced. Many of their pieces are “heritage” pieces, ones apparently taken directly from LL Bean’s long and historic back catalog and set up with a slimmer, more modern fit. Others seem inspired by that heritage or mix contemporary trends in menswear with their interpretation of that LL Bean history. Some pieces look great. Others, however, don’t, some because of the problem that plagues LL Bean’s regular line: dad-clothes-itis. See: these pants, or, these.
This post is a visual look at one of the items that LL Bean has done well, the Matinicus Rock Crewneck. The other colors apparently come a little dull but this grey patten is vibrant, if grey can be that vibrant. If one sizes down, or at least does so conservatively, these tend to fit close to the body. This sweater is thick and the wool is substantial. It feels and looks ready to go outside in the snow with no coat on. My only quibble is with the neck hem which is rather pronounced and makes smaller heads look even smaller.
LL Bean also made a cardigan version which looks great, perhaps even better than the crewneck.