Is LL Bean Ethical?

Imagine or relate with your experience that you are living in a state where hiking is fun but may have tropical terrain where it rains a lot or snowfalls like rain. You went on a hike but returned to your shelter unable to feel your foot as it has been wet the whole time. Well, you need hiking boots which is waterproof and will keep your feet dry, and cozy and feel you comfortable. If you are looking for a long time solution then you are probably in need of LL Bean hiking boots and other hiking, camping utensils.

Though they provide extreme durability and comfort in the long run just like any other products you might need to look into the fact that LL Bean products are ethical. Or they are just on a bare hunt for money? Let’s judge the ethicality of the infamous LL Bean from different perspectives before declaring them good or bad.

Key Takeaways

  • The most infamous product of LL Bean is the Maine Hunting Shoes, otherly known as Bean Boots or Duck Boots. They are made in Brunswick and Lewiston, Maine, USA.
  • LL Bean scored 6/100 on the Fashion Transparency Index. This means that there is little to no information provided by LL Bean for its consumers to inform them about supply chain policies and practices.
  • LL Bean became a member of The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Bluesign, Textile Exchange, and OEKO-TEX Standard 100.
  • LLBean became a subject of controversy when its owner Linda Bean donated $60k to Trump’s Election Expenditure fund which lead to a boycott of their products by the anti-Trump community.

What is LL Bean? Its Background

What is LL bean its background

LL Bean is a privately held company based in the United States that sells outdoor clothing, camping gear, and adventure gear on a large scale. LL Bean is one of the oldest and most popular outdoor clothing retailers in the world. It started with a single product: Maine Hunting Shoes (aka Bean Boots). Since then, it has grown into a well-known international billion-dollar brand. Currently, it is ranked number 7 among outdoor clothing brands due to its popularity and high level of quality.

Established in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the founder of LL Bean. Leon was a hunter and fisherman who came back from a hunting trip wet and cold. From his in need of a durable solution, the Maine Hunting Shoe was born out of leather and rubber. Leon Leonwood Bean passed away in 1967 at the age of 94. Today, the company continues to grow as its operations expand around the world. 2021 was reported as their best year with Annual Net Revenue is rose to $1.8 Billion. This represents a 14% increase from 2020.

Is LL Bean Ethical?

Before jumping to the conclusion that LL Bean is an ethical brand let’s first understand how to measure a brand if they are ethical or fast fashion or slow fashion. There are various indexes based on a brand that can be identified as ethical. These criteria can vary from company to company. We will take the below indexes and elaborate them from a neutral perspective on why or why not LL Bean is ethical.

The Fashion Transparency Index

The Fashion Transparency Index ranks brands according to how much information they share about their environmental and social policies, practices, and impacts. The 2020 FTI edition reviewed 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands with an average transparency score of 23 out of 100. The highest score was 73 out of 100. LL Bean scored 6/100. This means that there is little to no information provided by LL Bean for its consumers to inform them about supply chain policies and practices. To be fair, these policies, practices, and impacts could have been a good marketing strategy for them but as they tend to keep quiet regarding them means there is a high possibility of unethical activity and practices within LL Bean.

Exploiting Child Labor

Exploiting workers with very low wages, to work in bad working conditions for long hours without caring for labor law is a common practice in third-world countries manufacturers. Though LL Bean has in-house manufacturing facilities in Brunswick and Lewiston in Maine the majority of its goods are produced in third-party factories situated in China, Canada, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. Bangladesh and Cambodia have a bad reputation for unhealthy workplaces with long hours of work and minimum wages. The most significant report came from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, named “Uyghur for Sale” which stated that they have findings on over 80,000 Uyghurs were moved from Xinjiang to other provinces factories between 2017 and 2019. Of them, many were teenagers.

Despite this, LL Bean has provided the listings of their factories but it is unknown if good work culture and ensuring of labor laws are happening there or not.

Animal Welfare Policies

LL Bean advertises its products to be made with a down that is certified by the Responsible Down Standards(RDS). RDS is a nonprofit organization of the Textile Exchange that is meant to ensure that the feathers and down come from geese and ducks that have been treated humanely. Their terms and conditions also include no force-feeding and live-plucking of feathers. But worsening enough, LL Bean isn’t listed as a certified member on the RDS website. There is also concern regarding wool, leather, and other animal fibers, whose source remains unknown.

Member of Sustainable Apparel Coalition

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a group founded in 2011 that comprises global footwear and apparel companies. Together, the coalition comprises almost one-third of the industry’s global market share. Their goal is not to use and produce unnecessary material that doesn’t cause any harm to nature and people but rather impacts positively on the people and communities associated with their activities.

Though LL Bean is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition it does not guarantee that they are ensuring any sustainable ethics to their product manufacturing and supply chain management system. SAC is an organization that will help you to assess the methods you are taking as sustainable conduct. This means it will not audit or make bound you to implement the rules. It is still LL Beans’ job to plan, source, and execute all the sustainable measures they need to implement.

Is LL Bean Sustainable?

Is LL bean sustainable

LL Bean started as an outdoor adventure brand. It was some 110 years ago when sustainable practices weren’t part of the company’s agenda from the start. As LL Bean achieved its highest levels of success, they claim to implement sustainability, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) became an integral part of its operations. To get started, they become a member of The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Bluesign, Textile Exchange, and OEKO-TEX Standard 100.

LL Bean encourages its customers to be the ‘Reduce, Reuse and Resole’ concept and they offer repair of their sold products at a nominal charge. They claim to use recycled Polyester, Nylon, and cotton for production but the claims mentioned above are yet to be proven as they mention little or no info regarding their sustainable initiatives.

Is LL Bean Fast Fashion?

Is LL bean fast fashion

LL Bean is not certainly a fast fashion as they don’t bring new designs or products now and then. Rather their motto is to provide customers with long-lasting, durable outdoor products that can sustain the hardships of adventures. Some of their products such as shirts, t-shirts, and loafer shoes may seem for regular life use but they are somewhat customized them a bit in the sense of outdoor use. Thus, LL Bean doesn’t count as a fast fashion.

LL Bean Legit

LL bean legit

LL Bean is a very old company and has a legacy of delivering the best and original products to its customers. But as their business has grown they have diversified their sourcing points to countries like China which are famous for copying and low-cost manufacturing methods. There are countless complaints regarding LL Beans products being very expensive compared to other brands in the same category yet LL Beans products seem ordinary and sometimes not as per claimed standard. But still, they are one of the biggest players in this arena with their legit designed products.

Political Controversy

LL Bean was on the first page of publishing media when former president Donald J. Trump tweeted about thanking the owner of LL Bean for her contribution and courage to Pro-Trump movements. Linda Bean, granddaughter of the company’s founder donated some $60,000 to Make America Great Again LLC to benefit Trump’s election expenditure, whereas the legal limit of such donation was max $5,000. Trump in return tweeted and mentioned buying from LL Bean.

This made the brand placed on a boycott list by GrabYourWallet, an anti-Trump organization.

Sustainable Alternatives to LL Bean

If you are always an out-goer, then you may look for newer relevant products. But if you don’t think LL Bean is as good as it once was, you should check out these LLBean alternatives.

Sustainable alternatives to ll bean

The North Face

The North Face is one of the most innovative brands in the current outdoor industry. They create products that are then put to the test by a team of athletes to see what they can do. The North Face also cares deeply about our favorite places and works hard to reduce its environmental footprint through sustainable practices.


Patagonia is one of the world’s largest outdoor apparel and adventure gear brands, with a long-standing commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices. The iconic American brand is a passionate environmental advocate, and its products are crafted with quality and durability in mind.


REI is offering top-of-the-line hiking, hunting, camping gear, and clothing that are unique and durable in their class. Their products are of excellent quality and feature-rich, as well as guarantee satisfaction and a return policy at a much lower price than other stores like LL Bean.


1. Does LL Bean use ethically sourced down?

LLBean advertises its products to be made with down that is certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), an organization of Textile Exchange. Though their claim is yet to be proven as no transparency of information sharing is shown by LLBean yet.

2. Who are LL Bean’s biggest competitors?

LLBean is a company that manufactures and markets apparel and outdoor equipment. Some of their biggest competitors are Rocky Brands, Cabela’s, Land’s End, and Patagonia.

3. Is LL Bean B2B or B2C?

LLBeans business is mainly focused on end-to-end individual customers. But they also have distributors and franchises meaning LLBean markets their products in both B2B and B2C models.

Final Thoughts

LL Bean has been a pioneer in supplying various outdoor gear and clothing for your need. They are doing business for over a century and have a similar fan base. In the past, the term ‘ethical’ wasn’t that valued as people use to seek products more than anything else. But quite a time has passed since their inception and people are more responsive regarding sustainability, materials used for making, and proper use of labor laws. LL Bean has been in the process to take measurements to fulfill its promises regarding building an ethical brand. But until LL Bean is 100% planet Earth-friendly, let’s put our money into sustainable brands that live up to our values of a sustainable Earth.


Todd Smith is a trained ecologist with five years of experience in environmental conservation and sustainability. He has a deep passion for promoting sustainable practices and has developed a thorough understanding of the natural world and its complex interconnections.

Leave a Reply