Despite the shameful mall brand that it has morphed into over the past couple decades, there was a time when Abercrombie & Fitch was great. More than great even, Abercrombie & Fitch was important, a brand that was as integral to our country’s culture of clothing as it was to our culture as a whole. This was a company that outfitted presidents and pioneers, authors and actors, explorers and icons. Today, the Abercrombie & Fitch clientele is decidedly less illustrious, and their products are about as American as a three Yuan bill. I oft wonder how many shoppers even realize that Abercrombie & Fitch were real people to begin with? Then again, it would be wrong to fault anyone for overlooking the real Abercrombie & Fitch. After all the philosophy upon which these two gentleman built their brand is wholly absent from the stores that bear their names today.
You haven’t visited most of Maine—few people have. It’s an immense state that’s largely unpopulated. Well, try this: fly to Bangor, then drive three hours north. You’re getting up there. At the end of an 18-mile dirt road is Libby Camps. Established in 1890, it’s been in the same family for five generations. That all sounds promising, and it should. We’re partial to lodges and cabins that don’t dress themselves up (wall-to-wall carpeting is a telltale warning sign). When you arrive at Libby you know you’re in a place that has earned the right to take the long view.
Come in May and June to fish for native brook trout in many of the remote ponds that can only be accessed by foot or, even better, by float plane. Or come back in September when the water falls and they turn red before they spawn. Either way, you fly fish from a 20’ Old Town canoe and cast out one of the idiosyncratic flies made by the guides. Or, if you’re more classically minded: a caddis or March Brown. You can hope for a trophy 3 pounder, but that’s a setting the bar high. Aim a little more realistically, while expecting regular action from strong, healthy fish.
If this page of L.L. Bean’s 1939 catalog doesn’t inspire someone (hopefully Bean itself) to remake at least two of the three pairs of footwear pictured, I am going to be very disappointed. Requirements: 1. shoes must be made from Horween (Elk) leather (though I don’t think such a thing exists. Nick if you are out there chime in) and 2. must be handsewn in Maine. Anyone that does this, let me know and I will personally flog said boots until you sell at least 100 pairs.
Another round of Kodachrome photos from the ACL collection. More fishing and lots of posing in this set. Fishing seems to have been a huge pastime, or it just was with people that shot Kodachrome. I should also point out that the husky gent with all of the camera equipment around his neck in the third photo is one of the people that took a lot of these pictures.
First things first, lets be happy that it is still cold outside and we can take full advantage of wearing all of our favorite winter goods. This catalog from 1969 is the convergence of two of my favorite things: nostalgic ephemera and L.L. Bean. This booklet features some choice goods, along with a cover shot of a hunter about strike down Bambi. Safe to say that 2010 Bean is not going to be using cover art like this — but some of these goods are a bit less controversial and have been much more long lasting. That Flotation Jacket sure does look familiar.
Well, it is actually Take Ivy meets Field & Stream magazine. This 1951 film on the Dartmouth Outing Club could be the ultimate ACL video (thanks to Beau for sending it my way). Camping, Hiking, Hunting, Fishing, Skiing and don’t forget the Winter Carnival. The Winter Carnival is a big party! — hundreds of girls, two dozen or more dances, Christmas lights on Main Street — it’s the social event of the year. The 11 minute Dartmouth recruiting film takes you on a journey of what it is like to be an Ivy League man, learning the ways of the outdoors. This video could be the purest manifestation of 1950s privileged Ivy League Americana meets Norman Rockwell. Enjoy!
With the first Barbour Beacon fall collection just hitting stores, Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida rolls on with another fantastically designed collection of outerwear from the venerable English brand. The new offerings compliment the main Barbour line perfectly, but the Beacon coats are just unique enough to be really desirable without taking anything away from the core collection. That is the tough part of collaborating with such a well known and revered brand like Barbour, making the collaboration product unique but not too too crazy. Mr. Yoshida walks that line wonderfully and every piece of both the AW09 and SS10 Beacon lines are worthy of my closet. I’ll be bold and say that this is the best designer-brand collaboration going right now — well played by all involved. Wondering what you should be wearing next spring? See below.