Tote Bag Alert: L.L. Bean Joins Forces With Wooden Sleepers for Limited Run

With beach season here and tote bags still a must-have for many in the stylish set, L.L. Bean is not about to get left behind on the trend.

Why should it since the Freeport, Maine-based company first invented the rugged tote 80 years ago. To celebrate that staying power, L.L. Bean has teamed with menswear label Wooden Sleepers to curate a collection of 24 of its vintage Boat and Totes. Both brands have a shared sensibility, since Wooden Sleepers’ founder Brian Davis specializes in all things Americana, whether that be workwear, outdoors, military, or “Ivy Style”-inspired clothing.

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His arsenal includes hard-to-find L.L.Bean gear and apparel. So when Davis approached L.L. Bean about a possible collaboration focused on curated, thematic drops of L.L. Bean’s most iconic goods, “we were thrilled,” a company spokesperson said Wednesday. The Boat and Tote was first created in 1944 to haul ice and can hold up to 500 lbs., according to L.L. Bean.

LL Bean
Wooden Sleepers and L.L. Bean have joined force for a collaboration.

The $1.7 billion outdoors-focused L.L. Bean brand has been collaborating with smaller, buzzy labels in recent years. Through an alliance with Summersalt, the company rolled out limited run apparel, sun protective swimwear and beach gear, including a paddleboard, this summer.

True to Wooden Sleepers’ vintage roots, the bags have their share of wear and tear to “reflect the unique stories they carry,” Davis said. (Think splattered paint, water marks and frayed edges.)  As of 9 a.m. EST Thursday, shoppers can vie for 24 one-of-a-kind totes in the L.L. Bean x Wooden Sleepers collection that retail from $95 to $165 on Wooden Sleeper’s site. The fact that several of the selected iconic products are celebrating milestone anniversaries including L.L. Bean’s 80-year-old Boat and Tote and its 100-year-old field coat only heightened the appeal of the deal for Davis. The brand’s Norwegian sweater is another personal favorite of the Wooden Sleepers’ founder, who described the company founder Leon Leonwood Bean as “the greatest American clothing designer.”

LL Bean
Totes from the L.L. Bean x Wooden Sleepers collection.

The L.L. Bean style has over the years been carried by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chloe Sevigny, Sarah Jessica Parker and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. From Davis’ standpoint, vintage L.L. Bean was “made incredibly well and is kind of trend-proof.”

The ironic Boat and Tote trend that kicked off on social media in 2023 spiked sales for the accessories item to a 10-year high at L.L. Bean. Earlier this year Trader Joe’s tapped into the demand with a mini version of a tote bag that was reminiscent of L.L. Bean’s signature style. A viral blitz wiped out Trader Joe’s inventory, which has yet to be replenished. Trader Joe’s expects to have some canvas mini totes back in stock in late August or early September, a company spokesperson said Thursday.

Trader Joe's Mini Insulated Tote Bag
Trader Joe’s Mini Insulated Tote Bag.

The grocery store chain recently rolled out a $3.99 insulated cooler version of the mini totes, which also sold out in some stores after going viral. Trader Joe’s expects to have more of the insulated mini totes later this summer.

As for whether Trader Joe’s has any plans to offer tote bags in a more consistent way, the spokesperson said, “Trader Joe’s is always looking for new products [that[ we think our customers will enjoy. We’ve had re-useable bags in our stores for more than 40 years. The assortment will continue to change.”

Asked about Trader Joe’s version during an interview in April, L.L. Bean’s chief executve officer and president Stephen Smith said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Look, if people are into buying bags, and buying sustainable bags, they should buy ours.“

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