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The Cult Following of L.L. Bean Duck Boots

The Cult Following of L.L. Bean Duck Boots

For the last 100 years or so, L.L. Bean has built a reputation for manufacturing and selling some of the world’s best clothing and outdoors equipment. It’s all made in the U.S., and it all comes with a warranty that proves it’s all made to last. The company began from humble roots in 1912, with just one product, which today is one of the most notoriously sought after pieces of footwear on the planet—people order the duck boots by L.L. Bean well in advance of production, they fetch a pretty penny on the used market, and they have developed a damn near cult-like following in recent history.

But why? What makes L.L. Bean duck boots so great? What is it that makes the Bean Boot so special?

L.L. Bean Only Makes So Many

Well, let’s first address the simple level of supply and demand that goes into the production of these boots. In a world where China produces an estimated 12.5 billion pairs of shoes annually—roughly 90 percent of all shoes made—L.L. Bean’s production simply can’t compete. Luckily for L.L. Bean, they make a damn good men’s duck boot. For them, scarcity has a positive effect on their bottom line, and creates a tremendous demand for their exclusive boots.

A Carefully Considered Workforce

And speaking of supply and demand, when it comes to the production of the boots and the limited supply of them, a lot of it has to do with the development of the team. While most companies would just hire more people to keep up with demand, the folks at L.L. Bean take teambuilding very seriously. Even though demand for Bean Boots has risen dramatically over the last few years, the company’s management is hesitant to increase the team in order to meet demand because they’d hate to have to lay off workers should the demand drop. This hesitance may be a slight inconvenience to the consumer, but it’s a rationale that we can definitely appreciate—it’s always nice to hear when a company puts its people over profits, and that’s exactly what L.L. Bean does.

For 120 Bucks, They’re Actually Very Reasonably Priced

Some people might wince at the Bean Boots’ 120-dollar price tag, but if you really, truly look at what you’re getting—especially compared to what other American-made boot companies like Redwing or even Thorogood are offering—you’re really getting your money’s worth: Quality, hand-crafted construction; made right here in the U.S.A.; an incredible warranty that anyone would have a tough time beating… At that price, you’re getting a lot more than just a boot; you’re getting quality, care, and craftsmanship from a brand that you can trust.

Quality That Speaks For Itself

L.L. Bean holds their workers and their products to a very rigorous quality assurance process. Outside the rubber sole, a team of over 200 men and women carefully and methodically assembles every other component of the duck boot, all in their 170,000-square-foot production facility based in Brunswick, Maine. In total, every single pair of boots takes almost an hour and a half to produce, from start to finish. It’s easy to see how much L.L. Bean cares about these boots.

Materials—Buying Local

L.L. Bean doesn’t just care about the quality of care and dedication in producing their boots, but they also very carefully source the materials for them. Eric Smith, a PR representative for L.L. Bean, told The Atlantic last October that all the materials they use in the production of their Bean Boots are sourced primarily in the U.S., noting that the leather comes from a tannery right there in Maine, and the shearling comes from Texas, and how all the steel used comes from the local artisans with whom the company closely works.

An Unbeatable Warranty, Made to Last a Lifetime

In today’s day and age, finding a company that truly and legitimately cares about its customers is an increasingly difficult task. But L.L. Bean is one of those seldom few who does, and they make sure their generations of loyal customers know it. They guarantee their products to “give 100% satisfaction in every way,” and will accept returns on anything at any time if it proves otherwise—even if you don’t have a receipt. Say what you will about the boots, but that kind of guarantee really speaks to consumers.

So there you have it. L.L. Bean’s Bean Boots weren’t always such a huge hit with consumers, and who’s to really say why they’ve become so popular in recent years—it’s a tough game to call. What we’re certain of is they have all the elements that make for an all-time classic: History and heritage, quality, adequate demand, inadequate supply, a more-than-fair price point, and a distinct style. What more could you ask for?

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