3.20.2010

Premium Heritage Showdown: Land's End Canvas vs. L.L. Bean Signature

The closing months of this winter marked the release of two heritage lines from the well known American catalog brands, Land's End and L.L. Bean; Canvas and Signature respectively.  Both brands are known for being a bit anti-fit, but both of these collections are perfect for bigger guys; they are apparently a bit more trim and tailored than any of their previous offerings, whilst retaining the legacy of a more relaxed fit.

There are actually some pieces in each collection that are nearly identical.  I'm going show each and list some distinguishing characteristics of some of these spring staples.  I'll also touch on some of the highlights of each collection.  All product shots will be presented with LL Bean on the left and Land's End on the right (until Blogger allows me to easily add captions to photos).  This choice was completely arbitrary.

Fits you'll have to ascertain for yourself but it is not going to be easy to try these or any of the pieces on in-store.  You'll likely have more luck with the Land's end clothing, as the line is carried in some Sears department stores.  Check for yourself here.  As far as the L.L. Bean Signature line, L.L. Bean public relations has confirmed that it will only be in-store at the Tyson's Corner, VA location.  Otherwise, you'll have to roll the dice and buy online.  But if you have to return something, no sweat.  L.L. Bean has a fantastic return policy and your satisfaction is guaranteed (you have their word).
Jacket
First up is the khaki jacket.  Look at that, the model is even standing in the exact same position and the coats are positioned in almost the same way!  L.L. Bean's New Traditional Blazer and Land's End's Chino Blazer are clearly poised against each other.

Similarities:
  • Half-lining
  • Single back vent
  • Working sleeve button holes
Differences:
  • Buttons: the Bean version has two whereas the Land's version is a 3 roll 2.
  • Pockets: the Bean version has flaps.
  • Color: the khaki on the Bean version is darker (its listed color is "Moss Khaki") than that of the Land's.
  • Fit (?) of the LL Bean version appears a bit trimmer and possibly longer but that could be the fact that the pictures are cropped a bit differently.
  • Cost: the Bean jacket lists at $135.00 whereas the Land's End jacket is only $69.50.
Workshirt
Next up is the chambray workshirt.  You have to have a chambray workshirt in your collection, it's what all the kids are wearing!  L.L Bean's Chambray Workshirt and Land's End's Heritage Chambray Workshirt look pretty similar.  Let's break it down.

Similarities:
  • Chambray (duh)
  • Pin point collar
  • Buttons on the pockets
Differences:
  • Pockets: flaps on the Bean
  • Buttons: large dark buttons on the Bean, smaller white buttons on the Land's
  • Color: The Land's version appears to be more green and the Bean version is washed indigo.
  • Price: L.L. Bean shirt is $69.00 and the Land's End shirt is $39.50 
Gingham Button-down Shirt
As far as spring patterns go, gingham is about as standard as it gets.  I've chosen to show only the navy versions of each shirt because the color was common in both lines.  The Bean version is known as the Washed Oxford Cloth Gingham Shirt and the Land's version is known as the Heritage Poplin Shirt.

 Similarities:
  • Button-down collar
  • Single breast pocket
Differences:
  • Color choices:
  • L.L. Bean

  • Land's End
  • Price: The L.L. Bean shirt is $49.00 and the Land's End shirt is $34.50.
Relaxed Chino
A solid pair of chinos is an excellent anchor to a smart-looking casual spring wardrobe.  Roll them up, turn them up, leave them alone; whatever floats your boat.  Both brands have some good offerings.  Here we'll look at the L.L. Bean's Sportsman's Chino Pant compared to Land's End's Heritage Chino.

 Similarities:
  • 100% cotton
  • Side-seam front pockets
  • Rear welt pockets
  • Flat front
  • Watch/coin pocket
Differences:
  • Fit: The L.L. Bean chino has a relaxed fit and is fuller through the leg and the Land's End chino is a straight fit.
  • Fly: The L.L. Bean version has a button fly.  I must assume that the Land's End version is a zipper fly (If someone owns these pants, I would appreciate any confirmation of this).
  • Price: The L.L. Bean chinos are $59.00 and the Land's End chinos are $39.50.
I predict, considering their more generous fits, that either of these pants would be a good go for a fellow tree-trunk-legged gentleman.

Trench Coat
A cotton trench is one of those classically under-rated spring outer garments.  Nobody's going to notice or care that you don't have one, but people will definitely will notice you if you're wearing one.  Both L.L. Bean and Land's End have coats to fill this void in your wardrobe; L.L. Bean with it's Trench and Land's End with it's Heritage Cotton Coat.

Similarities:
  • 100% cotton
  • Water-repellent
  • Button-tab cuffs
  • Back vent
  • Side pockets
Differences:
  • Lining: The Bean trench is half lined with fabric in a  tattersall pattern.  There is no picture of this but I imagine it is a nice detail.  I have to assume that the Land's coat is unlined.
  • Collar closure: The L.L. Bean version has a storm flap and the Land's End does not.
  • Interior pockets: The Land's coat has three interior pockets that close with buttons (see right).  The item description says that they will fit a phone, mp3 player, and passport.  The Bean version must have some plain-jane interior pockets or none at all because there is no mention of them in the product description.
  • Price:  The L.L. Bean trench is $185.00 and the Land's End trench is $79.50.

Shifting gears, I'm now going to highlight some of the best pieces in each collection (in my most humble opinion).
Big Wins for L.L. Bean Signature
 Waxed Canvas Maine Hunting Shoe
You really cannot talk about L.L. Bean Signature without mentioning the Waxed Canvas Maine Hunting Shoe ($129.00).  I really can't get around how great looking these boots are.  The contrast of the canvas on the leather trim, the green/brown laces, it just gets me.  The only reason I, myself do not have a pair is that I just bought a pair of 8 inch leather Bean boots and I'd feel bad if they were neglected.
Corduroy Short
L.L. Bean really hit a home run with this Corduroy Short ($49.00).  Available in navy and taupe, I think it is one of the most novel and interesting pieces in this collection.  They have a nice length and the snap pockets on the front are a nice touch.  I just wonder if they'd fit.

Madras Plaid Short Sleeve Shirt
I might be alone on this but I tend to think short sleeved shirts don't get enough love. If they're done right, they're wonderful in the summer, especially paired with jeans or chinos.  This shirt would pair particularly well with the corduroy shorts, above, in taupe.

The Madras Plaid Short Sleeve Shirt ($55.00) one is done right; it has a button-down collar and the sleeves are actually short enough to look attractive.  Also, take a look at the detail at the end of the sleeve; they added separate little cuff with a different piece of fabric. This is my favorite part of the shirt.

Big Wins for Land's End Canvas
Pocket Square
The pocket square is an underutilized and often forgotten accessory in America.  Pocket squares of the hand-rolled silk variety can many times be prohibitively expensive for the average gentlemen.  Cue Land's End's sueded cotton poplin squares (only $9.50!).  They're available in several attractive gingham and plaid patterns, are 14 by 14 inches, and are the perfect way to add a pop of color to your outfit.
Rugby Shirt
I've never owned a rugby shirt but this one is making me consider it.  I particularly enjoy the lack of embellishment on this rugby (no numbers or logos).  It's got authentic details like rubber buttons, a covered placket, and tennis tails.  This shirt in either navy (pictured) or the lighter, river blue would look killer paired with some nice rigid denim.  While it might not be ideal for wear in sweltering heat, it would be the perfect shirt for cool spring days and nights.

Denim Jacket
This denim jacket ($69.00) is a piece of outerwear that most people slept on upon the release of Land's End Canvas.  With my affinity for anything denim, this jacket really jives with me.  I know it isn't the first denim jacket of it's kind or anything but it appears to be an affordable, solidly constructed garment.  I'd prefer it to have two lower pockets as well but hey, you win some and lose some.  It's got a nice deep indigo color that would go together well with your favorite chinos and a button-down.

And now for my sleeper favorites.  Out of all the blogs I follow, I have seen little mention of these two pieces.
L.L. Bean Signature: Maine Standard Moc
Although the Ranger and Blucher mocs stole all the attention away from it, this is just a beautiful shoe.  The Maine Standard Moc ($119.00) is leather-soled with a full grain leather upper.  Pictured is the Chocolate Brown colorway, which I think is the choice option.  Although the Canyon colorway look great too, for whatever reason, LLB decided to lacquer over the cut edges of the leather sole, making them much darker than that of its brother, Chocolate Brown.  I really like the contrast of the dark brown and the lighter soles.

Land's End Canvas: Scorpion Necktie
Lately, there's be a revival of interest for old school, prep-inspired animal print ties.  I think this one might be the most badass one I've seen.  Scorpion tie ($39.50).  'Nuff said.  Keep an eye out for a bat print tie.  I'd be all over that one too.  Anyway, this tie seems of some pretty exacting quality for a very affordable price.  It is made of 100% silk, hand-sewn, and pleasantly slim at 2.75 inches in width.  A white oxford and navy tie combo will always look great (especially when the tie has frickin' scorpions on it).

Overall, both L.L. Bean Signature and Land's End Canvas each have many great pieces to look at for the coming spring and beyond.  Canvas is far less expensive but may not demonstrate the same quality that the Signature line seems to evoke.  I would love to hear any feedback on the fit and quality any items you've bought from either of these collections.

7 comments:

  1. Great review!
    I love the showdowns. Keep'em coming.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback, Skip. Much appreciated.

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  3. Land's End Canvas has a great fit. I ordered three shirts from them and they are all fantastic. The wash is a little soft, which is fine on the oxfords but feels a little off on the chambray. I'm a skinny guy with long arms and a disproportionately large neck, so shirts never fit me right off the rack. The Canvas shirts, however, seem to have broken that curse. They also sent a personalized, hand-written thank you note out 2 days after I received my shipment. It was a very small but welcome gesture that's often overlooked today. It definitely made an impression on me.

    I also just received a pair of boat shoes from the Signature line. I can't speak to them too much because I've only worn them a couple of days, but the legendary Bean quality and customer service seem to be firmly in place.

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  4. Agree w/ Aaron. I've been mostly underwhelmed by the fit of the LL Bean Signature stuff I've ordered (had a success rate of under 50%), but the Lands End Canvas cardigan and the chino jacket you highlight above are both fantastic. I also ordered--and am returning--the Rugby chino jacket as it's actually too small across the chest. I'm 5'10" and usually wear a 40, but the medium was just too snug. The Lands End jacket, on the other hand, is nearly indistinguishable, costs less than half of the Rugby one, and looks great. My only issue is that I was planning on picking up one of the LL Bean Signature twill/chino suit separates in the same color (navy) for a wedding later this summer, so I may end up returning the Lands End number anyways.

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  5. From Lands End Canvas, so far, I've aquired the following:
    -the pink striped oxford, which fits nicely and worth the cheap price.
    -the heritage poplin shirt in dark green gingham, which is a little lighter in weight than you'd expect.
    -the rugby shirt, which is my favorite piece so far.
    -the heritage trench, which was a little long in the sleeves, but a local tailor did a nice job of shortening those.
    -two pocket squares (orange and navy).

    The overall quality of the items I have received is spot on with the price point. It is a little cheaper than J.Crew quality, but still durable. I would highly recommend both the oxford shirts and the rugbys. I only wish the ties were cheaper than the oxfords, or I would have gotten the navy gingham tie by now. Also, I agree that you can't go wrong with $9.50 pocket squares...I can't wait to wear my orange one with my seersucker blazer!

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  6. LEC shirts fit great. I have the chambray, an oxford buttondown, and a tee shirt and that all fit very well. They are all a size Large but they have a trim fit like a Medium. However, the Khakis fit funny and I passed.

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