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August 30 2014

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Fash-Analogy: Is Alex Carleton to L.L.Bean as Jil Sander Is To Uniqlo?

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It seems to be a very good year for that sector of the population that aims to dress well but doesn’t care to spend even what we in the fashion world deem to be lower prices. A couple of weeks ago, the first round of Jil Sander’s new line +J bowed at Uniqlo—a collection with a not-obvious fashion component. Some complained that the clothes were boring, but they were real clothes for real people. It’s not flashy but there’s a lot of thrill in the high shoulder of a peacoat that’s only $99.95. Now, L.L.Bean has hired Rogues Gallery founder Alex Carleton to do something similar—which is to lay a subtle veil of his sensibility over what the company already does, and at equivalent prices. Carleton’s line, called L.L.Bean Signature, is more expensive than the company’s regular wares but doesn’t go over $150. As the designer told WWD, “This isn’t a fashion collection.”

At last night’s party-slash-presentation for L.L.Bean Signature, Carleton further explained the ethos: “The overall feel is very New England, outdoorsy, and definitely optimistic.” Fittingly, the look ran from rugged (plaid button-downs, khakis) to more feminine (ditsy floral shirts, preppy striped knits, a little madras dress). There were also great accessories in leather carryalls, oversize totes, and cute macramé belts with tortoise buckles. On the whole, it was exactly as described: Bean, considered. The collection will have its own site, www.llbeansignature.com, where it will be available for spring. Anderson Cooper showed up as we were leaving. Apparently he and Carleton have been friends for 13 years, but we’d like to think that it’s because good clothes at smart prices are AC 360°-worthy.

 

Photos: Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan.com

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