What Boots? From Backcountry Maine to Pervading all of Prepdom

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Leon Leonwood
was the sort of Mainer who would have dropped his axe and sprinted for his
rifle when the Brits went for Maine in 1838.  A consummate huntsman,
fisherman, and all things wooded, he was not roused to action though by
colonialists but by wet feet. 18 years of tramping the wet Maine wild, then,
inspired him (his cobbler, really) to stitch a loop of leather atop workmen’s
rubber boots. And thus was born the Maine Hunting Shoe.

The L.L. Bean
Boot, since its salient inception in 1912, has risen to wardrobe staple status
across all of New England. When Leon Leonwood built the first boot, the 100 or
so hunters he reached by acquiring a list of Maine hunting license holders were
happy his design looked just like the boots they were used  to. But the
tan and brown-rubber bottomed boot spread outside of Maine. They rapidly came
to represent something about the New England if not American image, a statement
of simple, rugged innovation. That is something its wearers have identified
with. For stories, check out: http://sartoriallyinclined.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Bean%20Boot%20Project

But the bean
boot’s audience has not simply been backcountry fisherman and hunters. While
the boot has trended in and out of style, they have survived and today are in
record demand. With something like 500,000 boots ordered and 100,000
backordered in 2015, the L.L. bean boot appeals to a wide audience, one type of
New Englander or another.

For example,
Lisa Birnbach’s satirical social commentary in The Official Preppy Handbook
threw a bone to the boot (above) in the 80′s, and today it is unlikely
you will walk across a slushy or snowy campus of an elite East Coast college
without spotting two or twenty wearers.

But whether
prep or pioneer or someone in between, there is an element of  Bean Boots
that is appealing for everyone, whether their normcore simplicity, their legacy
sentimentalism (yes, they’re still hand-sewed in Maine), or their true rugged
durability and design.

Bean Boot’s
history, their heritage is a romantic one. But total disclosure: I just have
Sperry knockoffs.

Sources: http://www.llbean.com/customerService/aboutLLBean/images/110408_About-LLB.pdf



 (Reblogged to include the right id tag: #jwelborn)

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