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The Iconic, Ironic Boat and Tote

A fresh generation of L.L.Bean fans is putting a cheeky new spin on the company’s famous bags.

As It Was and Whatever ironic LL Bean totes
Photograph by Shelby Dodge
By Adrienne Perron
From our November 2022 issue

The L.L.Bean Boat and Tote bag — usually embroidered with the name or initials of its owner — has become a ubiquitous accessory in its 78-year history, slung over shoulders on boats, beaches, and even at New York Fashion Week. But the tote’s usual selling points — durability, affordability, versatility — are not why, this past spring and summer, sales were the highest they’ve been in a decade.

Young shoppers drove the spike, L.L.Bean spokesperson Hillary Sparks says. They followed a trend fueled by 26-year-old New Yorker Gracie Wiener, who began monogramming Bean totes with ironic phrases two years ago: PSYCHO, PRADA, FAKE HEIRESS. Wiener started an Instagram account (@ironicboatandtote) to share photos of her and others’ untraditional totes. A TikTok she made about her favorite bags racked up half a million views. Now, her Instagram has more than 40,000 followers, and videos tagged #boatandtote have nearly three million views on TikTok. Meanwhile, teens and 20-somethings keep on monogramming UNHINGED, FERAL, FULL OF IT, etc. on their Bean bags. And even if the saucy slogans are ultimately just a fad, those totes are still going to last a lifetime.

Photographs by Carmen Harris, @babu_frik7, and Sarah Capella

L.L.Bean’s Boat and Tote bags, made of heavy-duty cotton canvas, run from $30 to $45. Adding a snarky monogram (or your initials) costs an extra $8.


Down East Magazine, November 2022