L.L. Bean’s Duck Boots Still All The Rage, Continue To Be Backordered

Last year, L.L. Bean hired 100 additional workers to ramp up production of their iconic, unglamorous USA-made duck boots. Nonetheless, the popular footwear was quickly put on backorder. Now, the long-time retailer is once again putting some styles on backorder, despite increasing production, hiring additional employees, and making plans for a larger facility. 

Boston.com reports that a sense of nostalgia and a desire for functional winter footwear has caused Maine-based L.L. Bean to revamp its production processes, but those efforts haven’t yet done the trick.

In fact, sales of the boots have increased from less than 100,000/year a decade ago to an estimated 600,000 this year.

The renewed popularity of the boots is part of a larger resurgence in the “what is old is new” mantra, Boston.com reports.

“There can be times when true classics become trendy,” Dan Hess, CEO of Merchant Forecast, an independent research company, says. “Teenage girls in Malibu are not always going to be wearing L.L. Bean boots, but they are right now.”

While other brands have seen revived interest in the past, only to be brought down a peg when the novelty wears off, L.L. Bean believes its product is different.

“They’re gravitating to the past and anchoring themselves into it,” Willie Lambert, Bean’s merchandising manager for footwear, tells Boston.com.

However, those increases come with a few hiccups. A look at L.L. Bean’s websites shows several varieties of the company’s Original boots are already on backorder, some listing an estimated availability of late January.

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A similar situation played out last year, when the company — despite hiring 100 more workers — put the shoes on backorder.

“We are doing our best to keep up with demand, but there are a few styles and sizes that will show a backorder at any given time this season,” a rep for the company tells Consumerist.

Although summer months aren’t exactly the time when consumers are shopping for winter boots, a Consumerist staff member recalls seeing a lot of boots available at an L.L. Bean outlet in Lake George, NY just a few months ago. However, a rep for the retailer says the availability wasn’t a result of excess production last year.

“We had backorders through the year,” the rep said. “However, at one point there were limited quantities of boots at some of the outlets – they were not first quality. Overstock or year-old product does sometimes go to the outlets, but Bean Boots produced this summer would have gone into stock for this fall.”