In the summer of 1984, Lands’ End founder Gary Comer wrote an article for placement in the seasonal catalog. He titled it, “The Principles of Doing Business”. In it, he shared the values that had transformed Lands’ End from a 15-order-a-day, yachting equipment supplier created in a Chicago basement into a multi-million dollar clothing retailer a few decades later. Paraphrased, it came down to a few important things:
Extraordinary service. An excellent product at a fair price. Integrity. And caring in a way that makes Lands’ End feel “a little like coming home.”
“A little like coming home.” When I came home from studying abroad in London in 2002, I came back to Vermont 30 pounds lighter, with a bellybutton ring, a dyed-black fauxhawk, and a pack of clove cigarettes crushed into the pocket of a long, 1970s olive green down coat with a dirty shearling collar. I had bought the coat in Brighton, but had picked up the attitude in Camden—a testament to my first time living—struggling—in a big city. My parents weren’t impressed. The cloves were the first to go. The coat was the second. My mom was more than kind about that: the coat was not going back with me to school in Maine, but if I let her take it quietly, she promised to replace it with a Lands’ End down parka of a much more respectable variety.
I angled for a brown or black coat. Mom picked a bright cherry pink parka that cascaded almost to my ankle. I wasn’t happy about it, and wasn’t grateful for it—the color, the style, anything about it—until I was trudging across campus, late at night, through the falling January snow. I remember feeling like I was enclosed in a safe, soft, uncomplicated hug…and then the tears welled in my eyes and froze my eyelashes, as I felt a wave of homesickness. “A little like coming home.”
Lands’ End catalogs still arrive in Mom and Dad’s mailbox in Vermont. They now arrive in mine. Sometimes, Mom and I buy the same things—sailor striped tops and corduroy leggings, hers in Regular, mine in Tall. I’ve also had several wool and down coats from Lands’ End over the years, and have worn each of them well.
I’m going to Vermont in a few weeks, actually. I will be taking the Lands’ End Tall Textured Wool Coat with me. Though not quite as warm as the cherry pink parka of years past, it’s a heathered navy hug of wool. With a hood to block the wind. Sleeves that break over the wrists. Slightly oversized buttons and a topstitched hem and hood that just make it feel happier somehow. It’s long enough to cover the seat, short enough to move, and pleasantly roomy for a tall body of a woman who no longer subsists on cloves. It’s practical. Comforting. And stylish in a way that only comes with classic, unpretentious good looks.
For me, Lands’ End has become synonymous with quality. With a great fit. With an excellent product at a fair price. But it has also become something more: every time I slip on one of their reliably cozy coats—like this one—it doesn’t feel “a little like coming home”. It feels a lot like going…and coming…home.
The full Lands’ End outfit:
- Women’s Tall Textured Wool Coat (c/o): $135 on sale, in Navy Heather, Sandstorm Heather, and Dark Charcoal Heather.
- Women’s Starfish Mixed Rib Pullover: A great deal at $24.99, and the Regular is plenty long in the torso and sleeves.
- Women’s Tall Mid Rise Slim Leg Corduroys: $59, with great colors for fall including Pine and Burgundy.