Stop Sleeping on Eddie Bauer, the Cool-Again Brand Your Dad Loves, Too
If the name Eddie Bauer makes you think of dads, you're not alone. Much of the brand's offerings, such as those extra-warm puffers, classic flannels, and hiking boots, bring to mind a specific kind of crowd — one that values practicality and effortlessness and might be overly concerned with how much air is in your tires.
Even Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, the styling duo who founded Current/Elliott denim and are now the designers behind comfy clothing go-to, THE GREAT., associate Eddie Bauer with dads — specifically, their own. (They mean this as a compliment.) Growing up in Northern California, the two have fond memories of placing family-wide orders from the catalogue each year, and it's that kind of familiarity, along with the timelessness of the brand's products, that ensured Eddie Bauer would always have a place in their hearts.
It's also what made signing onto their four-drop collaboration, aka THE GREAT. + Eddie Bauer, a no brainer.
"We love wearable clothes that are somewhat nostalgic and have longevity; things we can collect and continue to love," Current tells InStyle. "A lot of what we would collect from flea markets would be Eddie Bauer, like down, fleeces, and boots."
It doesn't hurt that, aside from classically good looks, Eddie Bauer also holds up performance-wise. The brand continues to lead the charge when it comes to making clothes that can withstand all the elements — another factor that was enticing for its new partners.
"There are technical capabilities that are needed for real, true warmth in climates that we don't live in," says Elliott, reflecting on THE GREAT. + Eddie Bauer's selection of quilted coats and fuzzy sweaters. "We wanted to partner with people who has already been doing that. We'd dream-stormed, aesthetically, the look, so it was nice to match that with their expertise, their [design] library, and their factories."
The first drop from this partnership, available now, embraces a throwback vibe, which feels right in line with what Elliott and Current love about the brand, and also fits with fashion's foray back into '70s and '80s trends. There's a mix of colorblocked coats, printed waffle pajamas, and plush accessories, all of which are fun and instantly mood-boosting. Bright colors are included, but at the same time, are subtle enough to still feel neutral and versatile enough for everyday wear.
"The color palette felt specifically nostalgic, working with the red, yellow, and blue as well as the navy, camel, and army," Current tells us, adding that she and Elliott initially drew inspiration from "what came to mind when we thought of Eddie Bauer."
"Where we started to have fun was with the prints, the patterns, and making things reversible — using things that we use at THE GREAT., like corozo buttons and certain brass hardware," Elliott adds. "We started to meld the two."
For those who have perused Eddie Bauer's site as of late, it's hard to ignore the fact that the company seems to be making some fashion-forward moves. Even the loungewear section feels a tad more elevated than what we're used to seeing, with sleek, statement-making sweats that don't sacrifice the comfort factor, either. Last year, Eddie Bauer teamed up with another industry icon, celebrity stylist Karla Welch, on a neon capsule collection, and should you be in the market for some snow gear, you might want to check out its collaboration with Baja East.
THE GREAT. + Eddie Bauer seems to be just one part of a bigger puzzle, where the over-100-year-old brand, founded in 1920, is now appealing to a new kind of customer — one who enjoys looking cute just as much as having sturdy gear.
Elliott and Current also have even more tricks up their sleeves. In early 2022, their second drop will be released ahead of spring, which will no doubt tempt us to add another season's worth of styles to cart.
"Just think of it as we're trying to outfit you for all of your outdoor adventures in different weather and altitudes," hints Elliott, adding that the next few collections will even include designs that didn't make it into the first round. "Because we're doing so many other seasons, sometimes we'd be like, 'Oh, okay, we can make this into a rain jacket with the different fabrications.' We were able to spread out our ideas."
One thing that will remain the same through all four collections, though, is that all the pieces — from the outerwear to the hats — will seamlessly pair well together. It's a bonus that comes with having stylists make your clothes.
"We would mentally put together the looks — she's wearing the thermal, she layers this on, it's really cold so she wears the trapper, that that type of thing." Elliott explains, adding that they envision these clothes staying in the customer's closet for a long time. "We want everything to be able to mix and match and layer really effortlessly. That's our filter in everything. I want something that makes me feel good and look good, but I also want it to feel easy, effortless. I don't want to be trying too hard, because life's already hard as it is."