Love Those Graphic T-Shirts? Meet the Team Who Makes Them

Every L.L.Bean T-shirt, water bottle, bike or boot that needs a pattern or logo comes through Brian Sailer and his four-person graphic department here in our Freeport, Maine, office. “If it has a graphic on it, my team has touched it in some shape or form,” says Brian.

Sailer moved to Maine almost three years ago to come to work at L.L.Bean. Before moving here, he worked as a professor and then as a CAD and Graphic Designer in New York and the Midwest. “Working for L.L.Bean was always in my scope. I wanted to be a part of an outdoor company with heritage,” he says.

The graphics department at L.L.Bean supports every product area in the company. The group works on patterns found on apparel, handles the packaging and hang tags of products and even works on top-secret designs, like the Red Sox L.L.Bean Boot. “We had only 48 hours to come up with the logo for the Red Sox L.L.Bean Boot and we had to keep it hush-hush,” says Sailer. “The highlight was seeing Jonny Gomes wearing it on Conan!”

Seasonal “trend boards” are the starting point to any project. Each season the team scours blogs and what’s happening in the marketplace. They travel to different cities, take photos of signs – anything that gets the creative juices flowing. “Once we put our boards together, we work with developers to see how many graphic tees or new packaging requests are coming up,” he says. The L.L.Bean archives also serve as a prime source of inspiration. “I tell my team to design things that will be archive pieces for Bean’s next 100 years. Try to develop items that can be instant classics as well as inspiration for future designers,” says Sailer.

When it’s time to put together designs, Sailer says they “start Frankenstein-ing” ideas from their trend boards, putting together type styles with different visuals, pulling together favorites and trying to make it their own.

L.L.Bean Graphic Tee Shirt Designs


Brian and the Graphics Team

Authenticity is one of the most important elements when it comes to their designs. “If we have an image of a trout on a shirt, we run it by the fishing team to make sure every fin is correct,” he says. “We stand behind everything we design.”

The sailboat on this graphic t-shirt was hand drawn by our in-house illustrator


A schematics of a boat from Old Town Canoe were the inspiration behind this men's graphic tee


Kids' Graphic Tees from the Spring/Summer 2014 Line

Kids' Graphic Tees from the Spring/Summer 2014 Line

“It’s amazing that we get to work creatively on so many different facets here,” says Sailer. “We’re proud to work here.”

Comments (10)

  1. jcart21 | February 23, 2014 | 9:51 am

    Any chance of selling just a plain brown men’s t-shirt? I have 10 t-shirts, and I think you did have a brown at one time. Also, commenting in a blog might not be the most efficient way for a customer to voice their wants, is there a preferred way?

    • Laurie | L.L.Bean | February 24, 2014 | 9:21 am

      Hi Jcart21, Thanks for sharing your comments. I’ll pass along your request for a brown Tee to our product developers. Customers can share comments with us via the method of their choice – blog, phone, email, chat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and various other social media channels. Hope that helps. Thanks ^LB

  2. Chris R. | February 26, 2014 | 9:46 am

    Nice to see a little insight into the design team that has to be innovative as well as true to a long standing culture. Keep up the good work folks!

  3. noni | April 29, 2014 | 8:06 pm

    I’ve been amazed at the lack of soft light rosy peach colors this year. No one has any… hint hint

  4. D.G. Whitney | April 30, 2014 | 6:29 pm

    My daughter is graduating from college this year with a B.S. in Graphic Communications and seeing your work and your integrity shows me that she is entering a great field. You guys do a great job.

    • Laurie | L.L.Bean | May 5, 2014 | 2:57 pm

      Hi D.G., Thanks for sharing your comments and congratulations to your daughter. Best, ^LB

  5. Sharon L. | May 1, 2014 | 7:54 am

    Love LLBean…could you consider more loon designs. Love my loons!
    Sharon L.

    • Laurie | L.L.Bean | May 5, 2014 | 2:34 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion Sharon. I’ll share with our graphic designers. ^LB

  6. CRVaughan77 | May 2, 2014 | 1:26 pm

    Hello – my favorite LL Bean tee shirt was from 15-17 years ago. It was white, had “L.L. Bean” in green script by the back collar, and had an image of a Maine mountain range with an American flag on the chest. It wore out years ago and I would love to replace it. Any chance of re-issuing it? I would buy several if they were available. Thanks!

    • Laurie | L.L.Bean | May 5, 2014 | 2:56 pm

      Hi @CRVaughan77 – Thanks for the comment. No plans to bring back that t-shirt design. I’ll share your comments with our graphic design team. Best, ^LB

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