Bean hopes for great Adventures

Betting that a high percentage of its female customers lead active lives, apparel, outdoor gear, and home decor merchant L.L. Bean has spun off a catalog of outfits for women to work out in.

The 88-page Everyday Adventures title arrived in mailboxes Jan. 4. Rich Donaldson, a spokesperson for Freeport, ME-based Bean, says that catalogs went only to house file names.

Everyday Adventures sells women’s apparel and gear suitable for activities such as yoga, cycling, walking, and hiking. It emphasizes merchandise made from “performance” fabrics such as CoolMax polyester and Lycra elastane. Products range in price from $8 for a water bottle to a Schwinn Acadia Cruiser bicycle for $299.

TRYING IT AGAIN

Everyday Adventures isn’t Bean’s first women’s apparel spin-off. In 1999 it launched the Freeport Studio catalog, which also targeted “active” suburban women ages 35-55. Bean folded the title in 2002; at the time, Bean CEO Chris McCormick said that the “marginally profitable” book “had become a distraction to the core business.”

Freeport Studio sold apparel “to be worn from 8 to 8,” Donaldson says — in other words, outfits suitable for the office and evenings as well as for weekends and picking up the kids at school. In contrast, Everyday Adventures focuses on activewear.

And activewear is becoming an increasingly lucrative market. According to Port Washington, NY-based research firm NPD Group, the market for women’s activewear totaled $17.1 billion for the 12 months ended November 2004. That’s up 9% compared with the previous 12 months.

And Bean is hardly the first mailer to tap the market. Boca Raton, FL-based Boston Proper, which specializes in fashion-forward womenswear, launched Boston Proper Sport in December 2002; San Diego-based running gear cataloger Road Runner Sports rolled out women’s title Activa in March 2003; and Sandpoint, ID-based women’s apparel cataloger/retailer Coldwater Creek debuted Coldwater Creek Sport this past fall.

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