09 February 2009

The Bean Blucher vs Frau Blucher

The Blucher Moccasin circa 1988. This was taken in British Columbia. God's country, eh.

A favorite shoe of mine and I should never have thrown 'em out. Back then you just assumed you could always order another pair. Had I known then... Not a fan of the barrel knot. It always reminded me of the girls in college who bit their nails.

This is what LL Bean'll ship today. It looks nothing at all like the pair I'm wearing. Plastic feeling leather cheaply made and with only the most obvious details left over. The last is clunky and the toe squared to satisfy Kenneth Cole fans. What a shame. It makes you shudder - - or whinny. I wonder if Frau Blucher bit her nails?


26 comments:

Ben said...

R.I.P. original Bean blucher. About 4 years ago, I had to throw away my pair from 1986 because it had started to grow a science experiment on it that I didn't think I would be able to kill.

Also retired my Bean dirty bucks and my favorite loden saddle bucks about 7 years ago (both from circa 1987-89). Now my only Bean footwear are a new pair of duck boots.

It's sad when you can even say "they don't make em like they used to" about Bean.

Memphis88 said...

I got some a few months ago and the toes are definitely not squared off like that. The leather looks the same though.

I'm disappointed that I am becoming aware of all these classic things as they are becoming increasingly poorer in quality and appearance.

M.Lane said...

Is this the earliest known Trad shoe picture?

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

theselvedgeyard said...

sad and all too true.

Michael Rowe said...

Oh my God, I was sure that when I was in the L.L.Bean store in the Chicago suburbs before Xmas, this horrible shoe was simply the only one that they had in stock. I assumed they sold out of the regular ones.

It's been DISCONTINUED? Wasn't it bad enough when they took the French fly off their classic khakis and turned them into generic beige pants for shopping mall dads?

Anonymous said...

Re: "they don't make em like they used to".

Isn't this true about almost everything?

Anonymous said...

Had the camp mocs in middle school and early hs late 80s and early 90s. you could return them once they were worn out, if you cut the sole off. True story LL Bean and policy that would break or rip.

www.greenlighthalo.blogspot.com

for the sports you need in your life

Halo

ACL said...

Not as good as it was, but better than it will be...

heavy tweed jacket said...

I had no idea that things had slipped at LL Bean to the point of squaring off a blucher moc toe. I mean, why on earth? I still have my old camp mocs, and will treat them with greater tlc these days. This post has reopened the old wound from throwing away an old pair of Maine Hunting Shoes about ten years ago. If I had only known then what I know now. Grrr.

John Patrick George said...

This is a bit tangential, but have you ever seen the movie PCU? There are a handful of preppy gags featurig David Spade. My favorite involves a "secret password" exchange. He quizzes the dude trying to enter their secret lounge: "America's greatest president?" "Who is Ronald Reagan" "A casual shoe for yachting?" "What is a blucher." (I won't repeat the last question, it's not very PC. That's more or less the premise of the movie.)

Anyway, whenever my brother and I answer the door for each other we use that line.

I've been thinking about getting a pair of top-siders or bluchers for summer. I wonder if there's a better offering out there.

tintin said...

Ben- I pronate and wore mine out but waited to the bitter end. I remember your mention of those Loden Bucks before. Never saw those.

Memphis 88- I agree. Not to bash Bastian but he's taken the classic and made it with care and quality - -then priced it out of reach. The rest of us better get used to crap.

M Lane- The Timberlands pre-date that by 3 years.

selvegeyard- Honored you stopped by. You're in the biz - - do you know who at Bean is responsible for this cheap insult? I'm gonna fire off a letter...with a stamp...and...mail it...if I can remember how.

Michael Rowe- I don't think they'll discontinue anything as long as they can make it for $5.00 and sell it for $65.

Anon- Everything but dental work and big screen TVs.

Reggie said...

Got my first pair of Bluchers in 7th grade and wore them and their replacements through college. Tossed them into the back of my closet in my 20s (had upgraded to Brooks' loafers) and then threw them out, discarded relics of another day. Nostalgic for my youth I ordered a new pair about 5 years ago, also some Camp Mocs. First thing I noticed were the crappy soles, then the lousy quality overall, especially the Bluchers. Running on the fumes of memory, I still have them but only wear the Bluchers while gardening and doing projects around the house (they're covered with paint splatters). I remember looking forward to getting the Bean catalog when I was a teenager, wishing I could order more of their really cool, esoteric stuff than I could at the time. Now when it arrives it makes me sick to my stomach remembering what it used to be and seeing what it has become: yet another degraded mall store with crappy merchandise trading on faded glory (well, mostly). I for one vividly remember visiting the old Bean clapboard building, an emporia built in the 1920s (as a tot on a family vacation), also the original Abercrombie & Fitch on Fifth Avenue (went to their going out of business sale as a teenager), and when Eddie Bauer was still a source for terrific hunting, hiking, and climbing gear (oh so long ago). Thing is I don't feel that old, but in retail terms I feel ancient.

Ben said...

Still thinking here: I'm figuring out the context of your post is that you just received a pair of the NuBluchers. Perhaps with breaking in, they will look better? I remember my first pair looking fairly underwhelming straight out of the box. Only after about year of non-stop, sockless use, and hours of beer-spilled nights in the Tombs, and even an application or two of mink oil, did they begin to look like MY IDEA of bluchers. If I am right about this (and frankly I'm skeptical) please update, so we'll know.

tintin said...

Reggie-"...I don't feel that old, but in retail terms I feel ancient." That says it all for me and I suspect a lot of us. Thanks for that.

Ben- The blucher cognoscenti go here:
http://www.quoddytrail.com/Bluchers.htm

They're $178 and to me that ain't Trad. They are handsewn in the US but I hear there's been some trouble with quality control and orders taking forever. Still, if the look is important and they'll resole them...they may be worth the price of admission.

I saw these last summer in Atlanta:

http://www.sperrytopsider.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=1210&itemType=PRODUCT&iProductID=1210&pageSuffix=Recently%20Viewed%20Item

They're $80 and look pretty good but made in China with a logo on the heel. Still, they hit it closer than Bean did and it was Bean's own product.

Lastly, I found a pr of Polo bluchers last summer at Marshalls in the middle of nowhere. They were $20 and they're not bad. Some of them may still be out there. Zappos had them for $40 or so but I can't find them.

tintin said...

Ben - I almost forgot these guys.

http://www.arrowmoc.com/mocasins.html

A little out of the ordinary and nothing really close to a Blucher but for the price ($110 for a boot like Blucher) it's a deal. I'm gonna try 'em out.

Ron_A said...

Tintin - Great post, as usual. I also have noticed a detioration in the quality of the LL Bean camp moccasin, though I still wear mine. I really like the Quoddy canoe moccassin (better than the Quoddy boat shoe, IMHO). I highly recommend ordering the Quoddy shoes from O'Connell's website, assuming that they have them in stock in your size.

OTC said...

Amen - I just had my Bean camp mocs (c. 1989) resoled for the first time a couple of months ago. Wore them this morning to walk the dog.

I bought them on a midnight run to the Freeport store when I was at college in Boston. A fun trip. Recently I looked to replace them but quickly realized what you point out here. They are not remotely the same shoe.

I suppose my real question is: how on earth can you mess with the perfect casual shoe? Why? L.L. Bean, please, just go back to the original last and design details. If you can't count on Bean to protect their own classics, just go and start your own company.

Anonymous said...

The Quoddy's tintin mentioned are actually the real thing. As in, the Shorey's made them for Bean forever.

Patrick said...

I tried to make the Frau Blucher joke on Ask Andy once. Nobody got it.

Quoddys certainly seem to be the way to go these days.

M said...

You are so right! Mine fell apart after 6 months.

Anonymous said...

I recognize that L.L. Bean has had a place in the traditionalist's lexicon for years, but I would much rather wear a Sperry Topsider. Plus, they come in a myriad of colors and even a black patent for the tux.

The Ancient said...

Agree completely about Bean. (And what the hell happened to that Norwegian sweater?)

Anyway, someone here is apt to be interested in these:

http://winnperry.com/updates/quoddy-handsewn-in-maine/print/

allie in g'town said...

I mourne the loss of my Bluchers every day. Why, oh why had I not the foresight to see how perfect my well worn pair was, barrel knots et all...

tintin said...

allie- Thanks for your comment. A great blog you have - - I lived in Old Town Alexandria from '85-'86 and loved it.

Anonymous said...

I'm 19 and I've been considering buying a pair of bean bluchers. I believe you guys, many things these days are of cheaper quality. Yesterday my mother went to the thrift store and bought me an old wool ll bean sweater. The sweater is great, and the label says that it was made in England.

Conlin said...

Well initially they do look like that when you just receive them but when you wear them and break them in they do regain that old school look, and the plastic leather loosens and they looks alot better. I've had mine for years