⟨ Craft ⟩

The boots that are popular for over a century

Bean Boots

Words / P Yue
Photography / Courtesy of L.L.Bean
Translation / Iris Heung

在下雨天最惱人的各種情景中,襪子濡濕是最令人煩躁的。如果只走在城市倒是還好,頂多是不舒適罷了,然而場景換作是野外活動,卻有可能會導致失溫受涼,更甚是襪子遇濕變硬,行走時摩擦力變大起水泡,終令雙腳傷痕累累。

成立於1912年,要數L.L.Bean的經典商品,除了早期用以運輸冰塊的ice bag托特包,以及半拉鏈的連帽風衣Mountain Parka外,Bean boots無疑來得更經典、標誌性,同時也是品牌成立以來推出的第一樣商品。

Rainy days can be quite annoying, but nothing is more frustrating than wearing a pair of thoroughly soaked socks. It is surely uncomfortable walking in wet shoes in the city, but imagine being in the same situation when doing some outdoor activities. Being stuck with a soaking wet pair of shoes can make you shiver. Once your socks get damp, they can go from soft to stiff in no time and start rubbing your skin until you have blisters all over your feet.

Founded in 1912, L.L.Bean has been introducing numerous classic products, including their tote bag that was first introduced as an ice carrier and the brand’s Mountain Parka. When talking about the brand’s most iconic product, it is undoubtedly the Bean Boots, which is also the very first product L.L.Bean ever launched.

如同許多戶外品牌的創辦人,本身都是野外活動愛好者,Leon Leonwood Bean在成立L.L.Bean以前,是一位獵人和漁夫,經常要遊走沼澤地區的他,雙腳長期深受泡濕之苦,因而開發出這雙下半部為橡膠、上半部輕量皮革,遊走在沼澤和雪地都沒有問題的Bean boots。

不要小看這塊橡膠底,要以二十世紀初的科技水平,把橡膠底與輕量皮革成功縫合,可是考倒了當時候的Bean。而因為Bean在成立品牌、推出Bean boots時,就標榜只要不滿意品質,都可以申請退款的政策;結果首批Bean boots縫合滲差,橡膠底久了會脫底,令九成顧客最終要求退款。只是Bean不但沒有氣餒,更努力精進縫合技術,Bean boots最終還是大受歡迎,令Bean獲利甚豐,短短幾年內就購入L.L.Bean第一間店面。

Like many founders of other outdoor brands, the founder of L.L.Bean Leon Leonwood Bean was also an outdoor enthusiast himself. Before founding the brand, Bean was a keen hunter and fisherman, so he often had to wander around swampy areas. He invented the Bean Boots as he was well aware of the pain of wearing a pair of soaked shoes for a long period of time. These boots are composed of a waterproof rubber bottom and a top part made of comfortable leather. The choice of materials made the boots a perfect companion for walking in swamp or snow.

The rubber bottom may look nothing out of the ordinary from the perspective of nowadays technology, but this pair of boots was invented in the early twentieth century when technology was far not as advanced as today. It was extremely challenging for Bean to sew the rubber with leather. As the brand was founded and the Bean Boots were launched, they offered their customers a free return policy if the customers were not satisfied with the quality. The first batch of Bean Boots was so poorly manufactured that the rubber bottom could easily be detached from the leather part. The brand ended up receiving ninety percent of its customers returning the boots they bought. Instead of giving up, Bean was determined to master the manufacturing technique and finally made the Bean Boots an acclaimed product. The success of Bean Boots has brought considerable revenue for L.L.Bean, which bought its first shop a couple of years after the brand was founded.

仔細看這雙令品牌發跡的雨靴,橡膠底不僅能克服水窪、沼澤和雪地等情景,其硬底也保護雙腳能走在崎嶇地形,是一雙用途甚廣的靴子。不過直至今日,戶外界紛紛推出更先進的物料,Bean boots卻依然沒被淘汰,倒是因為靴子在七十年代時,被當時的私立大圈的學生相中,融入了Preppy的文化體系中,成為該文化裡不可或缺的一款單品。

The iconic Bean Boots have a practical design that is not only suitable for walking in puddles, swampy areas, and snowy places, but their sturdy soles can also accommodate walking on rugged surfaces. It is to no one’s surprise that this pair of multifunctional boots can remain popular even when facing keen competitions from other outdoor brands that launch numerous products with state of the art materials. One of the main reasons for Bean Boots’ unshaken popularity is because they have become an integral part of the Preppy culture ever since the seventies.

在戶外、時裝界均成經典,Bean boots開發至今已逾百年,但人們仍然穿不膩,更衍生出眾多品牌的參考、致敬設計。不過本家自己也不弱,Bean boots聯乘款過的品牌不計其數,像最近就有Beams Plus的兩雙女款,是Bean boots低幫靴款Canvas Gumshoes的改款,改換上米色和橄欖綠色,看起來隨性輕鬆,倒也不失世故的況味。

Bean Boots are considered an outdoor and fashion classic. The boots were first introduced over a hundred years ago, and are still favored by the outdoor and fashion fanatics. Some brands also introduced products that are inspired by or pay tribute to the Bean Boots. L.L.Beans did not stop from exploring other possibilities of their iconic boots, the brand has crossovers with many other brands, including the most recent L.L.Bean for BEAMS Plus series that features two versions of Bean Boots for women. BEAMS Plus revamped L.L.Bean’s signature Canvas Gumshoes by introducing two new colors, beige and olive, to the waterproof boots silhouette. L.L.Bean for BEAMS Plus boots are surely a successful blend of a casual and sophisticated look.