American Classics Reinvented For The Masses & More …

For Spring, Summer 2010, Lands’ End gives a whimsical, cool, new take on its usually traditional and quiet brand of clothing and accessories for women, men, kids and home. Going under the headline of “A Beacon for What’s Real: American Classics, New Horizons”, the company, which began in 1963, and has since positioned itself as “cultivated and refined through the years”, has now shifted gears across all of its groupings. The reasoning behind the strategy, so it seems, is for the company to try to re-brand and re-market itself in today’s hyper-competitive retail marketplace, as well as make itself and its wares that much more appealing and covetable to modern shoppers with an eye on affordable, great-looking fashion and home décor.

Thinking about key selling points such as quality, value, style and service, the company recently told its story in New York City, at a fun, casual and quite witty, press presentation, set in an open, airy West Side loft.

A particularly interesting part of the company’s new direction is its really-feel-good, Canvas collection (Clothing and Swim) for women and men. According to the look book given out at the presentation, this part of the line is described as “Welcome to a new chapter in a storied brand … clothing that’s real and relevant for how we live today”. Apparently, all of this simply translates into for women, what looks like an attitude of vintage meets current trend; what is old is new again. Ditto for the menswear part of this grouping, which concentrates on rugged pieces, rendered as a relaxed, easy style in the language of iconic, American sportswear. The generally good-looking Swimwear part of the Canvas line, co-habits well with the clothing. Components in this grouping are “Swim Essentials” (basics in rich, dark hues and some pop prints); “Surf Shack” (easy, athletic-style pieces for performance or play); and “Heritage” (a new take on the company’s nautical roots; navy, yellow, green; polka-dots, striped prints).

Across other collections, shown separately from the Canvas line, warm-weather dressing for women focuses on a broad array of mix-and-match sportswear pieces that have their place across many different types of shoppers’ closets. An additional plus to the design repertoire this season is that there are more dresses in more size ranges (are all of you size 2’s to size 18’s out there listening?) currently available in the company’s catalog, on its website and at its signature shops at Sears. Obviously Lands ’End has done its homework, in terms of the kinds of trending and forecasting it has done when it comes to giving women more dressing options for spring and summer.

When swim comes into play, which of course, the category does during this time of the season, there are all kinds of shapes and silhouettes for women. Many of the swimsuits have Tummy or All-Over Control, as well as Shape Wear; which are important for larger size figures. Adornments of super stylized touches of silver hardware, vibrant color palettes, retro-glamour, prints, patterns, and the like are everywhere across this grouping. Going along with the new story in Swim, the company serves up several abundantly-shaped and fabulous beach bags, which seem just right for going to the beach and beyond.

Moving on to Men, there are lots of good-looking clothing and swimwear items, offered in a range of colors, eclectic patterns, and easy silhouettes, again, all at affordable prices. Some of the best pieces in this section are the white denim tops and bottoms; madras and camp shirts, boat shoes, driving mocs, classic volley shorts and swim trunks

Now, when it comes to the growing market share of younger girls and boys, who just have to be the most fashiony and cool in their crowd, there is something for just about everybody. For the girls, there are pretty, little sleeveless jersey dresses and skorts in sizes from 2T to 16; regular, slim and plus. Swimwear is chic, but yet still young, with embellishments of seahorse icons, oversized paisley patterns and sewn-on, big, nylon flowers, seen across tankinis, bikinis and maillots.

For the boys, there are neat mixes of jean and cargo jackets, which totally look great with all kinds of shirts, polo’s, jeans and khaki’s, in sizes from 2T to 20, in regular, slim and husky. For beachwear, there are plenty of vintage-inspired prints and patterns in surf-like nautical color-blocks and classic, floral, cargo board shorts.

Gracious homes are not left out of the mix, especially important when it comes to the new line of sumptuous, organic pieces, in everything from bedding to towels. The company apparently understands that shoppers want and need the chance to quickly and cost-efficiently add new color into a room via home accent pieces. Voila, the best of the bunch here come across as plush, decorative pillow covers, all done up in bold patterns and prepster, bright shades.

Domestics aside, there is a truly wonderful and extremely well-priced for what it is, Adirondack Living Collection. Looking like each piece came straight out of a glossy, deluxe, consumer magazine, devoted to only the best kinds of gracious living, the comfy and cozy loveseat, coffee table, side table and club chair, look to be easily mixed and matched, and equally at home in any city, country or beach-house backyard.

The fun and casual presentation served yet another purpose to invited guests, other than touting the new collections, providing more than just a few cocktails and nibbles, and gifting everyone on the way out with a specially chosen, warm and cozy “hand-knitted” muffler. At the back of the look-book, viewers learned that Lands’ End proves its corporate values of “Real People. Real Value. Real Difference” in quite a heartfelt way, by supporting local and national charities such as The Big Boston Warm-up, Big Warm-up, and The Feel Good Campaign, which encourage employees and shoppers to donate coats for the homeless, as well as donating 5,000 pounds of its signature, “FeelGood” yarn (enough to make 25,000 hats) to One Heart Foundation’s Warming Families, a nationwide knitting charity. Quite a nice touch, indeed.

-Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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