Freeport Studio, Summer 1999

The unique cover photo is eye-catching “and makes you stop to understand it,” said one judge about Freeport Studio, the year-old spin-off of women’s apparel from venerable Freeport, ME-based cataloger L.L. Bean. But some judges felt that the inclusion of both the Bean and Freeport names throughout the book muddied the brand identity. “The L.L. Bean brand is so well known that the Freeport Studio title causes some confusion,” said one panelist.

That concern aside, the judges raved about the catalog’s “sense of comfort.” The catalog’s copy, described by one judge as “comfortable and well written,” certainly helps Freeport Studio attain that sense of ease. Then there are moments of brilliance that spice things up a bit while still addressing the target audience of busy suburban women. Take this snappy line: “Our safari dress is game for anything – even five-year-olds!”

The catalog’s merchandising is a “wonderful display of color and fabric options,” enthused a judge. “There is no end to the diverse and creative ways that color swatches are displayed.” For instance, some of the photos show the fabric swatches bound with twine; others show them wrapped in a measuring tape. And Freeport Studio’s varied offering of both casual and business clothing and accessories is consistent with its overall look and the needs of its target market.

L.L. Bean is an industry veteran, so it comes as no surprise that Freeport Studio’s customer service and ordering procedures scored big with the judges. Every spread features the catalog’s 800-number, which “strengthens customer confidence,” noted a panelist. Another judge lauded the “subtle but strong” messages regarding delivery, returns, and quality issues that appear throughout the book. It’s also no surprise that the design and production are superlative. In the words of one judge, “No stone is left unturned in the execution of this catalog.” The judges also praised the choice of models. “What a refreshing change to see appropriately aged and sized women to model the apparel!” exclaimed one.

Overall, the judges agreed that the catalog has a “consistently comfortable approach to the market, which is exactly how they want their customers to feel – comfortable!”

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