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Clothing catalogs have been around since 1872, when founder Aaron Montgomery Ward established the first catalog to sell goods directly to customers through the mail instead of going through a salesman. The catalog provides a guide of the latest fashion trends that customers can order from their homes. In addition to the Internet, which provides a more interactive experience for customers to order apparel online, retailers still rely on printed catalogs to help expand their businesses.

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean ( is a family-owned company for outdoor apparel and equipment. The retailer's direct sales division produces more than 50 catalog titles, which were distributed to customers domestically and internationally. L.L. Bean catalogs include separate apparel guides for women, men and kids, as well as home fashions and fishing and hunting gear.

Lands’ End

Lands' End's ( first store was opened in 1963 by Gary Comer, a former copywriter who based his store on his passion of sailboat racing. The clothing has a classic style for women, men and children. Lands' End has many different catalogs for various markets, including women, men, kids, home and plus-size customers. The retailer also has special catalogs, including swimwear, outerwear and Christmas issues.


Spiegel ( is a fashion and furniture retailer that sells brand-name fashion, shoes, home accessories and jewelry for women. The store mailed its first catalog to homes in 1905 and was the first catalog to present European trends to the U.S. Spiegel's direct mailing division includes eMagazines – interactive online magazines where customers can click on an item and place an order. Spiegel’s eMagazines include Swim + Travel and Shape FX.

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria's Secret ( was established in San Francisco in the 1970s by Roy Raymond. In 1982, Raymond sold his catalog operation and stores to Limited Brands. Victoria's Secret has expanded its business in direct sales, which distributes seasonal and special occasion catalogs to women, directly selling lingerie, swimsuits, women's apparel and cosmetics.

J. Crew

J. Crew ( was first established as a direct mail business back in 1983 and opened its first store in New York City six years later. J. Crew has expanded its retail and outlet stores to various markets, including clothing for women, men and children, shoes, handbags, jewelry and wedding apparel.

About the Author

Yvette Bigornia

Since 2000 Yvette Bigornia has been a writer specializing in internal communications, including newsletters, e-mail blasts and Intranet sites. She also holds certifications for copy-editing through MediaBistro, for public relations and copywriting through The Business Writing Center and for multimedia design through The Anthem Institute. Bigornia holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from Rutgers University.