For several years, L.L. Bean has had trouble keeping up with demand for its iconic duck boots, repeatedly putting the footwear on backorder . The company appears to have learned the lesson that scarcity can lend an air of desirability to a product, as it now plans to offer limited-availability variations of the duck boot.
To keep that air of scarcity that seems to fuel sales, L.L. Bean will be introducing “small batches” of new designs. Its first group of redesigned duck boots will be familiar to fans of the classic design, but feature different colored soles — a plum and a pinkish color — as well as varied hues of leather on the upper parts of the boot.
L.L. Bean purists may start to get a bit cranky as the designs continue to roll out over the next few months, as some do away with laces entirely, featuring faux fur and buckles in some cases. As the saying goes, one person’s duck boot blasphemy is another person’s dream boot.
Of course, if the company continues to face shortages due to its cachet with the trendy kids, it won’t matter how great the new boots look if you can’t get them on your feet.
L.L. Bean has tried to revamp its production processes, but those efforts haven’t proved totally successful yet. As of last November, sales of boots had increased from less than 100,000/year a decade ago to an estimated 600,000 this year.
Things could be turning around, however: Business Insider notes that in 2016, the company’s back order list shrank for the first time in recent years.
Part of that desire is due to a hankering for “vintage” or “retro” stuff that makes people feel nostalgia — maybe your grandma always threw on her L.L. Bean boots to feed the chickens, or they remind you of jumping in puddles in the rain with your dad.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether the updated designs will evoke that same sense of nostalgia, or whether L.L. Bean will be able to keep up with orders if they do.