LL Bean’s Japan Collection Is Perfectly Uncool

LL Bean was never the buzziest American heritage label but that hasn’t kept the 111-year-old company from achieving cult status in Japan. In fact, its comparatively obscurity may have only boosted demand.

So, color me unsurprised that LL Bean’s Japanese branch offers an exclusive line of retro-minded wearables steeped in LL Bean’s signature cues.

Appropriately named LL Bean Japan Edition, the Japan-only collection delivers a host of ultra-wearable outdoor gear that frankly wouldn’t be out of place on the American LL Bean website. The difference, obviously, is that it’s all designed in and for Japan and therefore extremely cool.

Available in October on BEAMS’ web store and LL Bean Japan’s site, the LL Bean Japan Edition collection provides a typical assortment of Bean bits, including quarter-length snap fleeces, thick sweaters, and a neat packable puffer.

The entire affair is as no muss, no fuss as anything else bearing the LL Bean name, it’s all just reformatted with boxier cuts and perfectly plain designs that call to mind the normcore steeze of ’90s airport-goers.

There’s even an insulated zip-up jacket that practically screams Seinfeld in all its beige retro glory.

This is what I’m talking about: LL Bean exists parallel to “coolness.” There is no trend or timeliness informing its designs, just old-school outdoor gear. I like that single-mindedness.

LL Bean’s presence in Japan isn’t epitomized by a single item, either. Yes, the Bean Boots, Boat ‘n Tote, and moccasin slippers are all popular but they don’t engender the same cultural clout as, say, The North Face’s Nuptse puffer or Levi’s 501 jeans.

Still, I’ve been exhaustively tracking the quiet boom in demand for LL Bean in Japan for a few months now and I’ve been enjoying the surprising vivacity of the spread from a distance.

Garment-dyed tote bags, collaborations with streetwear brands and Converse Japan, that one really good BEAMS collection — the Japan-only LL Bean stuff engenders an impressive variety.

It could just be the nostalgia talking but I’m enjoying LL Bean’s humble renaissance, if you can really call it that. It’s not like there’s an abundance of LL Bean buzz these days, you know.

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