Art Imitating Life: Lands’ End’s Uncredited JFK Tribute

Yesterday I pulled from my mailbox a folded catalog. When I opened it up, I recognized the image on the Lands’ End catalog instantly. Search “JFK sailing” on Google and the second image that comes up is this:

As you can see, just about everything in the cover painting is a copy of the famous JFK photo: the watch, the shape of the hand on the wheel, the ropes crossing the lower left corner. Clearly this was an intentional tribute, right?

Perhaps not. Five years ago Lands’ End directly copied a belt by Kiel James Patrick, and our post about it became one of the top-five most trafficked posts in Ivy Style’s history.

The inside front cover to the Lands’ End catalog talks about the company’s heritage (it was founded by a copywriter in 1963, the year Kennedy was assassinated), and includes the following remarks about the cover:

This months’ cover — painted for us by talented artist and one of our favorite models Rainer Andreesen…. — pays homage to that heritage. Titled “The Heart of a Sailor,” it evokes a simple truth: that our sailor’s roots are still at the heart of everything we make.

There is no mention of JFK.

Evidently the painting does indeed evoke a simple truth, just not the one intended. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

33 Comments on "Art Imitating Life: Lands’ End’s Uncredited JFK Tribute"

  1. Mitchell S. | May 2, 2017 at 12:43 pm |

    The only real differences are that LE omitted the yellow life jacket and the model looks like RFK, not JFK.

    A SCANDAL!!! We should all be up in arms!!! (Sarcasm)

  2. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 2, 2017 at 12:44 pm |

    There’s something a little outrageous about this. I can’t put my finger on it though. Maybe if they kept his facial features then it wouldn’t be as distasteful.

  3. Mitchell S. | May 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm |

    I forgot to add that the JFK pic has tortoise shell sunglasses in it.

  4. FrontPorchLife | May 2, 2017 at 12:57 pm |

    This goes to show how clueless the management of LE has become. I wonder how much they paid for a high-end consulting firm to advise them how to put this catalogue together? If only LE would actually go back to their roots.

  5. Flipped through LE’s catalog online and noticed a lot of non-iron garments. My dry cleaners warn against buying non-iron garments as they tend to not launder well. Also, clothes are meant to be a little wrinkled, it’s natural, especially OCBDs. Starching one would be like taking the sportiness out of it.

  6. If you’re going to blatantly plagiarize someone else’s work, at least admit it when you get called out. Sheesh. :-/

  7. Boston Bean | May 2, 2017 at 1:26 pm |

    Rainer Andreesen was born in 1963.
    Perhaps he didn’t even recognize JFK in the photograph that “inspired” him.

  8. whiskeydent | May 2, 2017 at 3:07 pm |

    I bet the artist failed to mention his “inspiration” to LE. Whomever (or what ever) owns the photo would appear to have a copyright infringement claim.

  9. As a child of eras past, I note that JFK’s hair, as well as the hairstyle of the fellow in the painting, is very late 80s-90s. For the period (early 60s), unusual. Short on the sides and back and plenty on top, parted on the side and combed back. That hairstyle, carefully coiffed, was sported by Brooks Brothers, Lands End, and J. Crew catalog models circa ’86 and forward. Most welcome after 60s (flat tops, crewcuts) and 70s (long hair) weirdness.

  10. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 2, 2017 at 4:19 pm |


    See the details of the original photograph here:

    Notably the Copyright Status = Public Domain.

  11. whiskeydent | May 2, 2017 at 4:31 pm |


    Thanks. I guess they’re out of the woods legally, but it still sucks to rip off something instead of creating a new image.

  12. How is LE’s current quality? I’ve never worn their clothes but they appear to be of decent quality.

  13. This came up on the FB thread. I guess we have a lot of lawyers among us. It should be painfully obvious that whether the image is public domain or not is vastly overshadowed by the integrity issue on behalf of the artist, the company, or both.

  14. Mitchell S. | May 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm |

    @CC: This is much ado over nothing. The JFK image is a well-known icon, as you note in a previous comment, and, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Full disclosure: I am a long-time LE customer.

  15. GS, as a woman I find their quality mostly good. I buy a lot of dresses from them and those hold up nicely (washing machine, but hang dry). I have not tried their polo shirts because they have too many buttons, but the men’s polo shirts are nice, my husband has a few. If you wear jeans, those are awful. They are not real denim but very thin stretch material and they last maybe a season, if that, depending on how often you need to wash them. The children’s clothes are nice and they actually look like children’s clothes, not tiny adult clothes. The men’s shorts also hold up nicely.

  16. Mac McConnell | May 2, 2017 at 7:08 pm |

    Traditionally, the ladys’ Lecoste polo knit always had a longer placard and four to five buttons. That seems to have changed in the late 1970s. My guess was to accommodate jewelry.

  17. Mark Russell | May 2, 2017 at 8:05 pm |

    If I had not already stopped doing business with Land’s End years ago because of quality issues, this would have sealed the deal.
    Shame on them.

  18. Cate, thank you for your insight. I don’t like more than two buttons on my polo/tennis shirts. They had non-iron chino shorts in this catalog which looked nice but I prefer must-iron. I wonder exactly what treatment is used to give their garments a non-iron finish.

  19. Insane if purposeful. More likely detached editor and horrible staff vetting, same guy who told Carlson that turkeys could fly.

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  21. Much ado about nothing. Public image domain, well known image, and it’s hardly a big deal. I think what’s more egregious is the quality of the painting — looks like something a freshman college art student could paint. I’d rather have seen a rendering by a great comic book artist like Neal Adams.

  22. Mac McConnell | May 3, 2017 at 8:33 am |


    Not a Lands End fan and agree, but wild turkeys can fly. Fun to shoot and if prepared well tasty. 😉

  23. Charles Dana | May 3, 2017 at 10:07 am |

    I sent a blunt e-mail to Lands’ End about this matter a few days ago, right after receiving the catalogue and determining that it contained not even the briefest acknowledgement of JFK’s role in inspiring the cover art work. (Like Christian, once I saw the catalogue, I immediately pictured in my mind the photo on which the cover was based.)

    Yesterday I received a call from the head of public relations at Lands’ End. (Apparently my e-mail prompted several urgent meetings.) She was extremely pleasant and did apologize for her company’s failure to give a tip of the hat to the former president. She stepped up to the plate and agreed that this was an oversight.

    What happened was that when the creative/marketing teams at Lands’ End commissioned, approved and went to press with the catalogue cover, things that should have been noticed were not noticed; things that should have been said were not said; reservations that should have been expressed were not expressed.

    My understanding is that Lands’ End has a blog, and that content for this blog is now being drafted that will specifically acknowledge the close connection between the JFK photo and the catalogue cover.

  24. whiskeydent | May 3, 2017 at 10:14 am |

    Good for them.

  25. Vic Delta | May 3, 2017 at 11:06 am |

    Oh dear. Slippery slope alert. Alden’s new catalogue with have a cover of a hamfisted artist rendition of Dan Hedaya schlepping down the beach in his gun-boats and dark suit.

  26. Mac McConnell | May 3, 2017 at 11:40 am |

    Charles Dana
    Is the Lands Ends marketing dept. ran by very young interns? Call me cynical, they knew exactly what they were doing. I also don’t think LE believes their customers are so stupid they wouldn’t get it. No one believed it was WFB, the give away was the Cartier tank. 😉

  27. Charles Dana | May 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm |

    Hello Mac McConnell! I don’t know the ages of the employees involved. Their intent, however, was not ulterior. They aimed to highlight Lands’ End’s nautical roots, but the process of going from cover painting to final publication involved a lot of moving parts, and the gears failed to mesh at crucial times.

  28. MacMcConnell | May 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm |

    Charles Dana
    Failure to mesh leads to everyone talking about the LE catalog. I say brilliant! Someone should get a pay raise for playing three dimensional chess well. 😉

  29. I think it’s kind of amusing, actually. I’m glad they did it.

  30. Ken Barber | May 3, 2017 at 4:54 pm |

    Hopefully someone will share LE’s apology with us.

  31. Henry Contestwinner | May 6, 2017 at 12:07 am |

    I don’t give a rat’s patoot about the cover of the Lands End catalogue. I care about what Lands End sells. For a long time, they were a dependable source of affordable, quality clothes. Unfortunately, they have gone so far downhill in the past several years that I don’t even bother to look at their catalogues or their website anymore. I think the only thing I buy from them anymore is their flannel boxers, which fit me nicely.

    I still have a few things from Lands End—a shirt here, a tie there, some pants, some socks. As they wear out, I will be replacing them with clothes from somewhere else, which is really too bad. I would love to be a Lands End customer again, but I won’t put up with poor quality, hipster-skinny fit, and no-iron dreck. What’s worse for me is that they have, hands down, the best customer service around. I would rather talk with one of their charming Midwestern customer service ladies than punch a keyboard, and they’re the only company that I would rather call than order online.

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