Tuesday, May 12, 2009

LL Bean Norwegian Sweaters


On a 75° afternoon this weekend I was perusing the sweater rack at my local Goodwill and stumbled across two LL Bean Norwegian Sweaters from the 1980's. I first spotted the classic LL Bean Norwegian Sweater in navy and white, made famous during the 1980's as preppy staple and immortalized in the Official Preppy Hand Book. The sweater was next to a Champion Waterville High crew sweatshirt. I grabbed it like a fat kid taking candy from a "Take One" bowl on Halloween.

These sweaters were made in Norway with a blend of 80% Wool and 20% Rayon, a synthetic material usually produced from cellulose derived from wood.

For decades this classic weave identified college students with the LL Bean brand. However, LL Bean discontinued the sweater in the late 90's. Today these sweaters are delegated to eBay, vintage stores and flea markets in Williamsburg for around $40 a pop. Not to brag, but these were just $9 a piece.

Where I come from, Goodwills and other thrift stores are as picked over for vintage clothes as thoroughly as garbage heaps in Bangladesh are for food scraps. Central Maine is hundreds of miles away from savvy vintage shoppers and has no shortage of quality clothes.

Farther down the rack, the thick sleeve of a wool sweater stood out from the cheap fleece and cotton weaves and much to my surprise I pulled out another, less known LL Bean Norwegian sweater.
The Goodwills in Maine put X's on LL Bean labels to avoid potential abuses of Bean's rock solid customer service. I love these buttons, very Sun Valley Idaho circa 1965.

The Classic Norwegian sweater is already spoken for by a friend and loyal blog reader. I plan to wear the other for decades to come. I hope that someday LL Bean resurrects these once great sweaters. Without a doubt, LL Bean fans old and new would buy them. If this resonates with you, leave a comment and I will forward it along to my friends at LL Bean.

Here are some more links,
LL Bean Norwegian Sweaters (Picasa),
Askaboutclothes.com forum discussion,

20 comments:

kennethtangnes said...

I remember my grandfather wearing sweaters like these. Probably still in the attic somewhere. Must be 40-50 years old now...

Anyways. Enjoying your blog tremendously from Norway here.

Keep it up, friend!

Kenneth T

Daniel said...

Foster
Please tell LL Bean to resurrect the Norwegian Sweater. It is my single most favorite sweater and I had a strong reaction when I scrolled down on the blog today. I have not been able to find this sweater for myself but I do often browse the sweater section of the Bean site just hoping they will bring it back.
Daniel

indiansummervintage said...

What an absolutely glorious sweater, both of them, the second one in particular truly grabs at my heart strings. Send these sentiments on over to Bean.

I do envy you up in Maine, not just for the thrifting. Brooklyn seems just OK sometimes compared to your dailies.

Foster Huntington said...

Thanks for the kind words all, i will forward your sentiments on to LL Bean.
Foster

james at 10engines said...

raking through the home cupboards last w/e came across one as well... the stone cold classic navy and white. smokeshow material. like the others said, it is a crime that this sweater is not available now.

Daniel said...

What shoes are you wearing in the picture?

Foster Huntington said...

they are clarks Desert boots in black suede.
foster

Tucker said...

Nice finds, Foster. The second Bean sweater is remarkable. I can't say that I've ever seen one, and I have pored over most, if not all, LL Bean catalogs since 1978 or so.

Monte said...

Of course LL Bean should bring back production of this sweater. Countless numbers of people still read TPHB, apparently including kids from the North West who rock skate shoes.

I read a copy of TPHB my Sophomore year of college. It was my room mate's mothers when she was younger. Their family was from South Carolina.

Foster Huntington said...

Tucker,
I wonder when it was made. i have seen a couple on ebay from time to time. they are usually pretty spendy, 100+.
Foster

Enzo AGC said...

It would be great if bean starting making these again. I think you shot it best on your buddy "The Edge" on your southern road trip. When are you heading to the city for the summer? We should go grab a drink.

heavy tweed jacket said...

Foster, I was very surprised to see the second sweater. I've never seen one like it before in any catalog. Perhaps it was a limited edition or a one time only sweater that Bean quickly discontinued. Amazing find.

Isaac Buie said...

I agree with Tucker, the second is choice. Absolutely love it. Let L.L. know that they have a guaranteed customer if they were to bring both of them back, it would do Leon Leonwood proud!

greenjeans said...

That color blocked sweater is amazing. Both are, really. I think brands like LL Bean and even Abercrombie would see an amazing jump in sales if they just mined their vintage stocks. Great pull. I never find anything in goodwills anymore.

Foster Huntington said...

I am keeping the second sweater. Its amazingly warm i hope to have it for a long time. I have been forwarding the comments to my friends at LL Bean and have an exciting announcement to make tomorrow.
Foster

Foster Huntington said...

Antonio,
i start working with Charlie on the 22nd. soon there after we should grab a sarsaparilla.
Foster

Goodwill said...

Hi there!

Wow, nice finds! I which Goodwill store did you find them?

Foster Huntington said...

Goodwill,
I found these sweaters at the goodwill in Waterville maine, near where i got to college.
Foster

Matthew said...

http://tinyurl.com/yls2az8

It looks like they listened...

karen said...

This is called a Scandinavian Complex Bird's Eye weave. My grandmother (1st gen American from Sweden) knit this pattern all of the time for her sons and grandkids. Mine was red and white.