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Land’s End Through the Years

Key moments in the retailer's 50 year history.

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1963
Gary Comer, a young advertising copywriter and sailing enthusiast, quits his job to work for a company that sells marine hardware and boat sails. He partners with the company’s owner, Richard Stearns; his friend, Buck Halperin, and several others to launch a mail-order business to sell sailing equipment and hardware.

1964
Comer produces Lands’ End’s first catalogue, called The Lands’ End Yachtsman’s Equipment Guide. It becomes the most important reference catalogue of its time to naval architects, boat builders and sailboat owners.

1973
The company starts creating something besides sailing equipment: duffel bags, manufactured in-house.

1974
Lands’ End develops and markets its own brand of rain suit, a two-piece outfit worn by sailors in foul weather.

1975
The brand’s first all-color catalogue is issued, with 30 pages of sailing equipment and two pages of clothing.

1976
The focus shifts from sailing equipment to clothing and canvas luggage. Non-nautical products now take up eight pages, including products such as a men’s chamois-cloth shirt.


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1977
The first catalogue dedicates 13 of 40 pages to non-nautical goods — including apparel and soft luggage called Square Rigger.

• Bernie Roer comes on full-time as vice president and creative director.

1978
Lands’ End begins to phase out sailing equipment but retains a rugged and traditional aesthetic.

• Operations move from Chicago to Dodgeville, in Southwestern Wisconsin.

• Lands’ End introduces toll-free 800 numbers.

1979
Ground breaking begins on a 33,000-square-foot warehouse and an 8,400-square-foot office building in Dodgeville.

1980
The company makes the move to its new home on Lands’ End Lane.

• The phone center begins answering calls 24 hours a day.

• Lands’ End starts hiring employees who specialize in fabric and the manufacturing of clothing.

• The company’s first Outlet Store opens on Elston Avenue in Chicago.

1981
Work begins on a 40,000-square-foot addition to its Wisconsin warehouse, which will feature a new automated sorting system, and on a plant in West Union, Iowa, to make soft luggage.

1983
Charter Club, with styles made from Italian silks and other fine fabrics, is introduced.

1984
Lands’ End becomes a registered U.S. trademark.

• Catalogues are now sent out monthly, instead of seasonally.

1986
Lands’ End goes public, with stock listed on Nasdaq.

• Charter Club is discontinued despite its profitability, to maintain the company’s culture and focus on traditional, no-nonsense clothes.
 
1987
Lands’ End airs its first TV commercial during a rugby match on ESPN.

• Automated hemming operation handles up to 6,000 pants a day.

• Lands’ End stock moves to the New York Stock Exchange.

1988
The Christmas catalogue reaches a record 220 pages.

1989
Gary Comer dedicates an 80,000-square-foot activity center to the employees, personally donating $8 million to pay for the facility’s construction.

1990
Three specialty catalogues launch: Kids, Home and Men’s.
 
1991
Lands’ End sends its first catalogue to prospective customers in the U.K.

• Employment is 6,000 during peak season; sales exceed $600 million.

1992
William T. End, who joined the company in 1991, is named president and chief operating officer. He would become chief executive officer in 1993, succeeding Richard C. Anderson, who had served as ceo since 1990 and remains vice chairman of the board.

1993
Two catalogues launch: Textures (women’s tailored clothing) and Corporate Sales (a business-to-business catalogue).

• First phone and distribution centers open outside the U.S. — in Oakham, England.
 
1994
William T. End resigns as president and chief executive officer and is succeeded by Michael J. Smith.

•Japan business launches as the first Lands’ End catalogue written in Japanese and priced in yen is mailed.

• First Lands’ End Inlet opens in Richfield, Minn.

1995
Landsend.com bows in July with 100 products.
 
1996
German business begins in Mettlach, Germany, with all product shipped from the distribution center in Oakham, England.
 
1997
First Lands’ End for School catalogue appears.

• Lands’ End sells its interest in the catalogue The Territory Ahead.

1998
David Dyer, who had held senior management positions with Lands’ End from 1989 to 1994, returns as president and chief executive officer, succeeding Michael J. Smith.

• The Web site introduces personalized shopping accounts and My Virtual Model, where customers can build a 3-D model of themselves. More than 15 million visits are made to the site, and sales grow threefold.
 
2001
Lands’ End introduces an alumni collection, Womens’ 18W-26W catalogue and Custom Chinos on landsend.com.

• More than 269 million catalogues are distributed throughout the year.
 
2002
Sears buys Lands’ End. Product bows in more than 180 Sears full-line stores, and by 2003 is rolled out to all 870 Sears stores.

• Maternitywear is added to the Lands’ End collection.

2005
Sears and Kmart merge.

2006
The brand is introduced in Canada in Sears stores.
 
2007
Lands’ End Shops are in 200 Sears stores.

• An intimates collection launches.

2009
Canvas women’s and men’s apparel and accessories launch, incorporating a slimmer, more modern take on classics like the white shirt, khakis, denim and knitwear.

2010
Chris Kolbe joins as executive vice president, chief merchandising and design officer, overseeing design, as well as retail and direct and international merchandising.

2011
Edgar Huber is named chief executive officer. He is a former executive vice president of global business development for Liz Claiborne Inc., and held posts at Juicy Couture and L’Oréal.

2012
The design team moves to New York.

• Sara Dennis, a former executive at Vera Wang Group, Liz Claiborne and Calvin Klein, joins as senior vice president of design.

2013
The company expands shoe categories for spring with an emphasis on women’s, adding fashion-focused silhouettes and materials to its traditional collections.

• Lands’ End marks 50 years in business.

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