Runway models at New York Fashion Week Wednesday showed off some pieces from the new L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder collection. Snyder combined some things he designed for his own collection, like the corduroy suit, with Bean staples such as the puffy vest. Photo by Maria Valentino.

More than 100 years after they were stitched together in a Freeport basement, L.L. Bean’s iconic rubber-soled hunting boots took their first walk down a New York fashion runway Wednesday.

Designer Todd Snyder showed off his new men’s clothing collection – L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder – during New York Fashion Week in Manhattan. The runway show at Pier 59 included dramatic takes on Bean basics like down vests, plaid flannel jackets and ski sweaters.

One runway model, with platinum blonde hair, sported an L.L. Bean logo T-shirt under a green two-piece corduroy suit, with a puffy, bright yellow vest over the jacket. The show combined things Snyder designed for his own collection – like the corduroy suit – with items from his collaboration with L.L. Bean, like the vest. Oversized winter hats with ear flaps and brightly colored shirts and pants in camouflage prints also were on display.

At the show, and after, Snyder said celebrity friends – including TV show host Andy Cohen of “Watch What Happens Live” on Bravo and singer John Mayer – sought him out to say what big L.L. Bean fans they are and how excited they were to see the new collection.

The runway show Wednesday was titled “From Away.”

Snyder said Thursday that because L.L. Bean “is already everybody’s favorite,” he merely tried to elevate the look and make pieces that were a little more fashionable than what you might find in the outlet store in Freeport. He said there’s a trend in the fashion industry now toward looks inspired by things that were considered utilitarian or basic 30 or 40 years ago.

“There’s a return right now to the outdoors, to looks that are inspired by the outdoors. What your grandfather wore is cool. Bean boots are cool,” Snyder said.

Orange was a recurring theme in many of the pieces in the new L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder collection showcased by runway models at New York Fashion Week Wednesday. Photo by Maria Valentino

L.L. Bean, based in Freeport, has had fashionable moments before. In 2009, the company hired designer Alex Carleton to work on its new L.L. Bean Signature line. In 2014, Bean boots made an impromptu appearance at New York Fashion Week, when many attendees were spotted wearing them, but not on the runway. During the week’s events, celebrity footwear designer Manolo Blahnik posted about them on his blog, calling them “chic.” In 2018, flannel as a fashion statement became hot, boosting sales for L.L. Bean, which uses tons of the comfy fabric.

New York Fashion Week is a twice-a-year event meant to showcase high-end clothes for upcoming seasons to buyers across the world. The L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder Collection is set to go on sale in the fall, but for now none of the 40-plus pieces can be seen on the company’s or Snyder’s website.

The collection includes vintage-inspired patterns for Chamois shirts and sweaters, puffer vests, overcoats and hats, the company said. And, of course, there are new looks for Bean boots, including a pair in red-and-black plaid.

Snyder, 52, is an Iowa native who designed outerwear for Polo Ralph Lauren and worked for Gap and J. Crew before launching his own menswear collection in 2011. He bought his first Bean Boots in college and has owned his share of L.L. Bean fleece jackets and tote bags over the years.

The idea for the collection began with Snyder, who reached out to Bean’s vice president of product creation, Owen Kelly. The company’s website quoted Kelly as saying, “We’ve been asked to do collabs by many designers and many brands over the years, but this time was different.”

Runway models at New York Fashion Week Wednesday showed off some pieces from the new L.L. Bean x Todd Snyder collection. Photo by Maria Valentino

“Everything we do at L.L.Bean revolves around quality products and making sure people are comfortable in the outdoors, no matter if they are walking to the subway or camping in the woods,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working closely with Todd to comb through our archives for inspiration, it became clear that he gets our history and our brand, and we couldn’t think of a more perfect fit.”

To come up with ideas, Snyder visited L.L. Bean’s office in Freeport and searched through archives of photos and letters. He found inspiration in a patterned blanket from the 1940s and black plaid wool hunting coats from the 1930s.

He saw how much orange is used in Bean’s hunting gear, and used pops of orange in many of his pieces. He also studied pictures of founder Leon Leonwood Bean himself, decked out in his hunting clothes, to see what his personal aesthetic was.

“They really gave me the keys to the kingdom. I thought it was neat how (Bean) started, working as a guide and making boots because nobody he brought on hunting trips had anything to wear,” Snyder said. “So he made things that had utility. I love the idea of taking things like that and making them a little more fashionable.”

 

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