Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Catalog Agenda Adenda ***Update***


 A few items arrived through the mail slot recently caught my eye... but not necessarily in a good way.

LL Bean's Signature series catalog is chock-full of odd ideas tuned flat in their presentation.  I still have no idea what they are going for.

This dress/sock/shoe combination lets men know that there will be no sinful hand-holding before marriage, and when this gal is "legal", the same men should expect to father no fewer than twelve children. Also, you'll have to move out west.

When I go sailing, I tend to NOT invite the creepy guy from the truck rental garage.

 Though duck season is still well away, this outfit will let others know that you enjoy paddling around lakes and ponds before being patronizingly tolerated at the local un-picturesque general store.  You've been in three times this summer, but mysteriously can't seem to be treated like a local.

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From Ralph Lauren, their catalog seems to be a bit all over the map.

The guy reassures young preppy aspirants that wearing jeans with a shirt and tie is not stupid, not passé, and still very *yawn* original.  The gal reminds us that the 8000 square foot "ranch house" dad has just outside of Sante Fe is a great place to "just hang out and focus on my art".  After three months, the "art" will have yet to materialize, but you "were at least able to make some great contacts in the local galleries".

"Can you believe that someone was just going to throw this old tablecloth away?"  Apparently, the image team was overcome with J.Crew catalog (circa 1990) nostalgia.  Some things are timeless... including fungi and communicable diseases.


Though not unattractive, LL Bean Signature is now dabbling the agenda towards the ambiguous English-overcast-estate-aesthetic.  Make no mistake: I'd chat her up, but those shoes on that soggy ground is patently anti-LL Bean... a direct rib against Yankee sensibility and practicality.  Put her in some manure-encrusted Wellies, and you're onto something.

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Finally,  Brooks Brothers sent me this catalog for their children's line.  The agenda is harmlessly eye-roll inducing.


 I chose NOT to publish the more obvious picks, but many of the images, especially those of the young girls, are approaching inappropriate maturity renderings.  The looks are a bit too Lolita/Jon Benet Ramsey for this parent's tolerances, but such is the burden of a father.

Am I being too reaching?  How about $70 cotton pants for your 10 year old?  Expensive white pants on a young boy... what could possibly go wrong?  Foolish.  

In case anybody was still not fully aboard:

Many of the clothes are actually cute/handsome, but the prices are naive and the agenda of the publication is the age-old catalog ploy: carefully construct an attractive world, and offer ambitious readers a piece of it... for a price.  That is what advertising is.  Use your unsuspecting children as dress-up dolls for your fulfillment and maybe you can rid yourself of some of that pesky money in the process.

I suppose that the entire thing would be far more tolerable if the prices were a bit more proportionate to the life-expectancy of the garment.  While I like the push to get children into non-athletic clothing for daily wear, the Brooks Brothers Fleece (yes, that's the actual name) seems to come off a bit too angled for me... and at no bargain.  The name, however, is hilariously appropriate.

As for LL Bean Signature, I would be curious to hear the snake-oil sales pitch that claimed to identify the demographic to whom this must be targeted.  Can somebody - anybody - please make sense of this?  I am unable to decipher the slant here. 


When I arrived home this evening, a new Brooks Brothers "Back To Campus, Back To Town" catalog had arrived.  In what can only be described as brain-exploding conspiracy-level twists, just as Lady Aldrich began taking the collective pulse of fellow unsatisfied LL Bean enthusiasts (myself included) one page of the Brooks Brothers booklet seemed to flip this entire thing around once more.

While LL Bean seems to be going for a new look, here we see that Brooks Brothers is actually going for the LL Bean look.  Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?  What the hell is going on?


  1. Hysterically funny and right on target. Don't get me started on Signature.

  2. Nice post. I am not a fan of Signature either. I have never understood paying much for children's clothing. As a father of three I know how quickly they outgrow clothes, destroy clothes, or just decide they won't wear a particular garment anymore. Buy inexpensive but decent looking clothes and let them behave like children.

    Best regards,


  3. You nailed it. The 'Santa Fe' remarks are spot on. I'm not familiar with the L.L. Bean 'Signature' series, though I know the others. Atrocious.

  4. The only item on your post that I would consider buying is the Ralph Lauren Fair Isle v-neck vest. Or, is it a jacquard? Whatever it is, I like it. I would not, however, wear it with jeans. I am now motivated to visit the Ralph Lauren website.

  5. You make a great point with this Brooks Brothers picture. It is stunning how comfortable L.L. Bean seems to be with sacrificing its own look and base. I suspect we will see more vendors picking up the slack. BTW, I hope others grock onto your meme of witty and pointed comments on absurd PR catalog shots. I am still laughing about the creepy truck rental guy.

  6. Speaking of moving away from the base, have you seen the new Ralph Lauren line, Demin & Supply (?). It all looks like homeless hipsters. It's horrible!!!

  7. I don't really wear a lot of LL Bean apparel - it's too....mother-in-lawish, but the Signature line is just plain odd.

  8. Great post - this made me laugh out loud a couple of times. It does seem like some clothiers are borrowing from others or not sure where they want to go. And, yes, I could do without the matronly-polygamist-wife look that Bean is offering these days. I'm also with you on the Brooks Brothers line for kids - makes me so thankful that my daughter wears a uniform and son will next year.

  9. "Expensive white pants on a young boy... what could possibly go wrong? Foolish." Thank you Yankee-Whisky-Papa, a good laugh was needed this morning.

  10. Someone needs to tell Brooks Bros.' Mad Men who've hijacked their catalog that no one who is anyone would EVER be caught DEAD at a DOG fight in heels with pants. Not only is it beyond grotesque, it flunks the dinghy test!

  11. YWP,

    Agreed across the board, with one exception. I am rather fond of the Brooks Brothers Fleece boys collection, because as small guy who regularly buys 18-20 clothing (and pays considerably less by doing so), I saw a lot I'd like. Your comment about the 10 year old boy + white pants is well taken.

    Your comments on the girls line though, perhaps since I am not a parent (I am, however, a teacher. Granted my students are usually in uniforms), I don't agree with. i found the offerings very elegant, and I wish some of my 12 and 13 year old students would dress that conservatively outside of the school gates...

  12. Glad to see others out there with the same sensibilities regarding the absurdities displayed in these ads. Given the state of many of these photos, it feels as if we're reentering the early 90's washed-out grungy realm.

    And to agree with pigtowndesign - Denim and Supply is the epitome of this hipster trend, full of overpriced and cheaply made pieces.

  13. Thank you for writing about the LL Bean Signature catalog! What are they going for? The latest cover features a safari jacket inspired number with weird balloon-shaped pockets at ribcage level. The colors vary from drab to putrid, the cuts are strange and unbecoming -- there isn't a single appealing looking item!


Let's keep it clean... but if you DO have to get foul, at least give it a bit of wit. Also, advertising disguised as comments will be deleted, unless it is clever.