From Lands’ End to Land’s End

A major clothing retailer and a sailboat owner ignore the misplaced punctuation and find common ground.

Land's End Crew

The crew of Land’s End sports new gear, a gift from outfitter Lands’ End, at the 2013 wooden boat regatta in Wickford, Rhode Island.

"I was catching up on some reading this week on vacation and noticed the wonderful story on Land's End in CW. What a great story!"

If that note sent via email isn’t enough to make a lowly scribbler blush, get a load of what came next, and pay attention to the identity of the sender.

"Any chance you could pass along my contact information to the current owners?" John Maher, the former president of Lands' End Business Outfitters, wrote to a CW colleague of mine. "I'd like to get their logo set up and give them Lands' End gear."

I could hardly believe what I was reading.

And so the worlds of Lands' End and Land's End, our 1935 Crocker ketch, converged. It's quite the honor to be paid a compliment by a top executive at a national clothing manufacturer, and it's beyond generosity for crew to be given gear with the logo of their boat's name — free.

How to repay such kindness? Well, after my shopping spree, which ironically included a couple of rounds with the company’s staff designer to ensure the apostrophe in our logo was put in the right place, I did a little digging.

Avid racing sailor Gary Comer of Chicago and his partners started Lands’ End Yacht Stores and in 1964 published the company’s first catalog,_ The Lands’ End Yachtsman’s Equipment Guide_. (That’s a publication I’d like to get my hands on).

| |The Logo: Round One| |

| |The Logo: This is more like it!|

The apostrophe, it turns out, was caught in the crossfire that a fledgling business frequently encounters as it takes big financial risks to convert dreams to dollars.

"We were all sailors at that time, and our business was selling (and sometimes making) racing sailboat equipment, and duffle bags, and rainsuits and some sweaters and other clothing," Comer is quoted on the Lands' End blog. "A lot of people ask why the apostrophe in Lands' End is in the wrong place. There have been some silly explanations along the way, but the truth is, it was a mistake. It was a typo in our first printed piece, and we couldn't afford to reprint and correct it."

So, though the most southwesterly point of Britain is listed in the National Geographic Atlas of the World with the apostrophe in the correct place, financial priorities ruled in the business world.

The company shifted focus to clothing and canvas luggage in the late 1970s, and has expanded to what it is today, a national outlet owned by Sears that offers casual clothing, business and outer wear, home décor, gifts, and uniform collections.

If Lands' End can tell the truth, so can I. Over the years, from time to time, I've bought clothing from Lands' End. Nice as it is, the gear I'll always hold dear is the gift from the executive who noticed Land's End.