How Customers Walk the Walk in L.L.Bean Boots

Poster for Rachel Gross’s latest speak Properly trained as an environmental historian beneath the tutelage…

Poster for Rachel Gross’s latest speak

Properly trained as an environmental historian beneath the tutelage of William Cronon, Gross has published about the intersection of purchaser lifestyle, American historical past, and gender. She is currently working on a ebook called Buckskin to Gore-tex: The Outdoor Market in American History.  

She recently frequented Bowdoin to give a talk about the subject matter, titled “How Outdoor Garments Became Preferred Design.” In her lecture, she explored the evolution of “the wilderness appear,” tracing its trajectory from mountain climbing equipment to the unspoken uniform of the liberal arts student, Silicon Valley CEO, and hip-hop artist of the ’90s. 

Gross began with the well-known story of the L.L.Bean boot, close to and dear to Mainers and Bowdoin college students. Outdoorsman Leon Leonwood Bean wanted boots that would preserve his feet dry for the duration of his adventurous expeditions. To this conclude, in 1911, he built the Bean boot, intended to endure swamp-stepping and rainy days. The model caught on quickly with his peers. And, if any have been unhappy, Bean individually mounted their sneakers. So began L.L.Bean’s graphic as dependable, grounded, and down-to-earth. 

Leon Leonwood Bean’s hardy thought was intended for those he considered outdoors people—that is, white male Protestants, like him. In fact, as the business created, Bean and his successors sought to safeguard their “intended” purchaser base, wanting that their products and solutions be offered to the “right form of men and women.”