Visit college or high school campuses and it’s quickly apparent that an American classic is back in style.
Designed by Leon Leonwood Bean more than 100 years ago, the iconic L.L. Bean boot is the must have footwear this holiday season.
“It seems to have gotten some fashion cache over the last several years,” said Donna Lamberth, L.L. Bean’s Director of Manufacturing.
“I think we’re introducing a whole new generation of customers to a product that really works and that’s made here in the United States at a time when I think that has a lot of appeal,” Lamberth said.
While these old soles are gaining new fans, the boots are still made much like they were when the company was founded.
“They’re made by hand. One pair at a time,” explains Lamberth.
In recent years the company has been making more of them, stepping up efforts to meet the growing demand.
“We used to only do like 350 pair a week and now we’re doing 2,000 a day,” said stitcher Linda Wallace from the company’s Brunswick factory floor. “Now we’re busy here year round and lots of times working overtime.”
Lamberth believes the boot’s popularity will only grow in the years to come.
“Ten years ago we produced about 100,000 boots. This year we’ll do just over 600,000 and into the future in 2018 we’ll make as many as a million boots a year,” Lamberth said.
The company will soon open a new facility in Lewiston and plans to hire an additional 100 workers in the New Year, bringing the total workforce to more than 500 people.
Right now, the race to fill the Christmas rush is on.
“My daughter is 13 and it’s the hot boot of the year. All the kids really want them,” said father Jake Nelson while shopping at the company’s flagship store in Freeport. “They’re practical. They look good and they’re made right here so she’s dying for a pair.”
Some popular sizes and colors are backordered but L.L. Bean’s best are working 24 hours a day, 6 days a week to churn out their coveted Made in the USA boots.
Molly Line joined Fox News Channel as a Boston-based correspondent in January 2006.