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L.L.Bean Takes to Instagram for Vintage Drop

L.L.Bean opened the doors to its “vintage closet” for what it said is the first time in its 109 years last week.

The retailer’s design team sets out across the country twice a year in search of classic L.L.Bean items that can serve as inspiration for the company’s upcoming season, stopping everywhere from Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Flea Market in Southern California, to local thrift shops in Portland, Maine. The best are brought back to the L.L.Bean Archives and incorporated into a 30,000-piece collection of archival goods.

“Some items may ultimately end up hanging on a rack for a couple of years before we use them, but sometimes, we just know, and we pull inspiration immediately,” L.L.Bean designer Amy Yeo wrote in a March company blog post.

This month, however, the outdoor lifestyle brand is making a small selection of its vast archive available to the public via the L.L.Bean Pre-Loved Collection.

Comprised of “one-of-a-kind heritage garments” from the 1960s to 2000s, the collection will release on Instagram in three distinct installments, with each item posted to the company’s story for the first person to claim. The initial drop on Wednesday sold out within 30 minutes, the company said. Over the next three weeks—the next releases are scheduled for Wednesday and Oct. 27—L.L.Bean plans to offer 28 items this way.

L.L.Bean's Pre-Loved Collection includes vintage styles from the '60s to 2000s

“L.L.Bean has always operated with durability and quality as the benchmark for everything we make,” Meghan Newton, one of the designers responsible for hand-selecting apparel for the Pre-Loved Collection, said in a statement. “Not only does this collection feature beautiful and rare L.L.Bean apparel that dates back 50 years, it is also an important step in our commitment to extending the lifecycle of our apparel for years to come.”

The Pre-Loved Collection marks the first time the retailer has sourced, refurbished and resold vintage apparel, it said. The garments include items in men’s, women’s and unisex sizing. They will release in three unique curations, with Wednesday’s to focus on knitwear and sweaters and the final week to center around outerwear and fleece. Last week’s release included flannel, chamois and vests. Prices range from $50 for some shirts shirts to $500 for a down Mackinaw coat.

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“We are extremely happy with the quick sell-out in the first week of the Pre-Loved sale and by our customers’ excitement for vintage L.L.Bean,” the company told Sourcing Journal. “We will continue to explore ways to further extend the lifecycle of our apparel already in circulation, and look forward to sharing more about our upcycling efforts in the future when we have news to share.”

L.L.Bean offered an early look at what these future efforts might look like at its flagship store in Freeport, Maine, Friday. There, it introduced a selection of 120 pieces—also framed as part of the Pre-Loved Collection—for in-store shoppers to peruse and buy.

The retailer’s Pre-Loved push—just one of a growing number of brand-led resale efforts—comes five months after a different nostalgia-fueled L.L.Bean release. In May, the retailer debuted a limited-edition drop inspired by its 1991 All-Sports Anorak. The limited line included 1,700 jackets, 750 bucket hats and 750 totes. The garments were crafted using nearly 8,000 yards of surplus outerwear fabric in retro color ways, L.L.Bean said. Last fall, it tapped men’s wear designer Tod Snyder for a new interpretation on the brand’s outdoor classics inspired by its vast archive reserves.