Why Catalog Brands Like Filson and Lands’ End Are Cool Again

HOW ARE THE SCREENS OF YOUR LOTS upside down in your office, in your bedroom? We are bombarded with blue light on our laptops and phones as we email, chat and Instagram,


Or some other e-commerce site that secretly airs pop-up ads for you. Sure, you can get up and go for a walk, but here’s a less expected antidote to digital overload: Check the folders that are hiding your (real) mailbox.


Are you buying from a catalogue? What’s your favorite thing to do? Join the discussion below.

Alex Carlton, creative director of outdoor brand Filson, said Covid made us miss the comfort of simpler times. We’re physically disconnected…. [but] you have an emotional connection to the physical quality of the mail coming home, he said. Distributed to subscribers for more than 100 years, the Filson catalog reads like a magazine, full of flight photos, profiles of history’s greatest miners, and things you’d really like to wear. With Jenni Kayne’s earthy Californian label and Ayr’s best foundation destroyer, Filson is one of many brands to reinstate the outdated and depressing reputation of kitsch from its catalogue.

Catalogs have a chronological order, a beginning and an end…. and that always seems to be ingrained in us, says Guillermo Sanchez, CEO of Publitas, a company that helps brands put their catalogs online. This finite, predictable, quiet quality is comforting in the frenetic digital age.

Here’s a concise guide to catalog shopping, the best deals, and all the analogue fun this upside-down hobby brings.

Why would I be interested in phone directories now?

From the late 1800s, when Sears, Roebuck and Co. began cataloging, to the 1990s, when the now bankrupt J.Crew was the king of catalogs, these letters were an important tool for communicating with customers. Of course, the internet has now largely taken their place. However, the affordable, comfortable and functional clothing of traditional catalog brands such as Lands’ End and L.L. Bean is finding resonance in the Covid era. Our precious clothes are not coming out right now, said Josh Pescovitz, a fashion consultant from New York. He says that if you buy clothes today, you should tick at least one of two boxes: Is it soft and comfortable when I’m sitting on the couch in a suit for the next 14 hours, or can I wipe my hands on it? Whether you’re settling comfortably into your home office or trading your city apartment for a better-maintained suburban home (gutters don’t clean themselves), you can count on catalog brands to help you find the right clothes for you. Eric Scott, 39, a high school math teacher in New York City, praises the high-quality Lands End Donegal two-piece pants he wore on Zoom. You’ll have these pants for 15 years, he said. You don’t have to worry about them cracking at the bottom or the paint thinning.

Left: jacket, $150, filson.com; shirt, $38, landsend.com; pants, $70, landsend.com; boots, $240, bodenusa.com Right: Shirt, $23, llbean.com; skirt, $98, bodenusa.com; shoes, $100, landsend.com; earrings, $45, bodenusa.com


Young Emperors for the Wall Street Journal

Can I create a really stylish outfit?

To create a balanced outfit that doesn’t look like you’re wearing everything from page 22, you need to be strategic – know your closet well and buy catalog pieces that can complement it. Kathy Sturino, a Palm Beach entrepreneur who advocates for inclusion size, supports this approach. Since many fashion brands limit their offerings to sizes 0 to 12, she spent a lot of time browsing through the brands’ catalogs to fill in the gaps in her fashionable wardrobe. I like to choose cool things from a less fashionable range, says Ms Sturino, 39. This means browsing through ergonomic shoes, scary smiles, and cheerful and aggressive color combinations to find the individual pieces that meet your needs. Ms. Sturino’s latest jewelry includes striped rugby shirts and moccasins from L.L. Bean (pictured below).

How do I manage a network of suppressors?

First, ruthlessly research the pieces of your current wardrobe that you actually wear to determine what suits you in terms of fabric and fit. Then he has to get to grips with fashion jargon, something he learned as a child by flipping through his father’s Spiegel catalogue. Knowing what, for example, the Prince of Wales did as a plea, in the cross or high, helped him make his choice. Most of the clothes in the catalog are very simple, says Scott, who has an Instagram page where he documents his modest finds, but then, boom, there’s this amazing piece.

Dr. Julie Marshall, 64, a retired dermatologist from Chicago, looks at her Talbots catalogs when they arrive in the mail. It quickly selects the right options and finds the shades you want. I look for the right colors first, she explained. Secondly, she is only interested in designing materials that can give a sense of well-being. Lands’ End and Talbots both have a lot of cotton, linen and natural fibres compared to synthetics. She swears by the cashmere cardigans in jewel tones from both brands.

Send order form ?

J. J. Peterman, a well-known catalog seller, will always take your order, but most guides have slipped into a new role as sailing buddies. We no longer receive faxes, explains the CEO of Lands’ End.

Jerome Griffith.

More than 95% of business is done online. So, no. Go to the website and click on Buy.

Smart (and stylish) clothing guide Catalog



1. Neutral

Earth tones are a specialty of the catalog, as are quality graphic prints like the stripes on this brown and blue polo shirt. $50, llbean.com

2. No name? No problem.

Catalogs are a great place to find logo-free accessories, like this leather belt with a tasteful buckle. $89, orvis.com.

3. Comfort cables

The ribbed velvet trousers are the most striking item in the catalogue. Try this classic khaki from L.L. Bean. $65, llbean.com

4. Can you kick it?

These Lands’ End moccasins are both low-cut and polished. $100, lands.com.

5. Hat-tower

Luxury brands like Gucci and Dior have been champions of hats lately, but why spend money when Lands’ End’s ultra-soft hat comes in black and beige? $25, landsend.com

6. Good sport

Thanks to the Crown, it’s fashionable to dress like we’re stalking the Scottish Highlands. You’ll make a statement in no man’s land and on a crosswalk with this Orvis shooting sports t-shirt. $89, orvis.com

7. Version

As for pants, avoid narrow models. Cargo space and folding forward is what catalog brands do best. $80, landing.com

What the curators have chosen in our catalogue

We challenged four fashion insiders to find attractive clothing in classic mailings. Here are his surprisingly elegant discoveries and how to wear them.


Photographer and creative director, Brooklyn, N.Y.


Right now I’m leaning towards things I’m actually going to wear. I’ve learned from past mistakes by buying things from the present. I need things to live. I love this Swiftwater Rain sweater because it is very functional. I can walk the dog or run errands with him. I can wear it pulling [street style] at fashion shows. But it would be nice under a coat. $225, filson.com.


Beauty entrepreneur and influencer with diverse interests, Palm Beach.


Catalog stamps I know very well, especially since they were medium-sized for so long. In this catalog, I’m obsessed with Camp Evil Good loafers. You look like Barbour, like you’re in the English countryside. They also have a romantic touch, and they’re so warm and cozy. $79, llbean.com.


Designer for food, accessories and wardrobe, San Francisco.


I’m a real sucker for the coat department. Sill long waterproof cape with hood is super cute. She would look good with jeans and a jogging shirt. But it can also be really fun with rolled up sleeves, a top or a bathing suit with multiple layers and brightly colored pants. You can tie him up if you’re a little off balance. Replace the included belt with a leather belt and add jewelry. 180, landing.com.


Fashion Consultant, New York


I love outdoor gear. I grew up with stuff from the army surplus store. Orvis is similar, but for a gentleman. I’m in the Missouri Breaks field pants. They look like the blackberry pants you would wear if you had to cross a hedge. I’m a sidewalk guy, but they feel very practical right now. I like them two-tone, like an ’80s Cadillac. I would wear it with a wallaby and a coat. $129, orvis.com.

The Wall Street Journal is not paid by retailers who are mentioned in the articles as selling merchandise. The stores listed are often not the only outlets.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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