Leon Leonwood Bean was an earthy, dynamic character whose runaway entrepreneurial success was merely an extension of his life and personality. The man and his business were Maine icons, ideal subjects for a Kosti Ruohomaa photographic tribute. The company’s flagship retail store in Freeport, Maine, is open all the time. This is a legacy of the founder: Bean came to work every day despite the weather. He also wanted to give hunting and fishing enthusiasts passing through southern Maine the opportunity to buy gear and licenses at any hour.
Bean was the inevitable inventor of the hunting shoe he became famous for. Deeply at home in the woods, he was a quintessential sportsman. He found that the footwear available in the early 20th century left his feet wet, cold, and cramped; in other words, it begged revision. With the help of a cobbler friend, he conceived a supple leather upper stitched to a rubber bottom. The boots were eventually a resounding success. Early on, they were discovered and highly prized by Donald MacMillan, who outfitted a crew with the footgear for a polar expedition in the winter of 1923-24.Browse Images