Amazon’s New Men’s Brands: Franklin Tailored | Franklin & Freeman
Amazon’s launching of their own fashion brands could end up being a very, very big deal. For a lot of us, Amazon and their “Prime” 2-day shipping service changed the way we shop for plenty of things. Their ordering, shipping, and returns are so easy (and so fast) that running around to different big-box stores suddenly became a net loss. But for years, Amazon’s had a hole in their inventory. And it had to do with style.
Yes they carried clothes, but the styles were pretty scatter shot. Even the launch of their high-end, East Dane site didn’t fill the gap. And these house-brands are a very early step towards corking that hole. Imagine they expanded to, say, Costco’s “Kirkland” levels. You could be standing in your kitchen, splatter ketchup all over a favorite dress shirt (which they don’t make yet) and assuming it’s a total loss, you could say to your Echo: “Alexa… order dress shirt!” and in two days, you’d have a new one. Amazon is becoming like a long-form replicator, and now they’re coming for your closet. And while it’s early, there’s some potential here.
Franklin Tailored Charcoal “Tracy” Sharkskin Suit – $281.97
Size = 40R. Traditional tail. Split back waist. Odd shoulder pucker out of box?
Country of Origin: There is a very big, very pleasant surprise with these suits (and sportcoats). They’re made in Canada. (Union made no less.) At least this Sharskin suit is, as is the micro-neat sportcoat thatl we’ll get to in a second. Not sure if that’s true for all suits & sportcoats across the brand, but it’s not a huge leap to assume that.
The Materials: The shell is all wool, not a blend, and it’s not the softest stuff in the world. More of a workhorse wool. There’s no mention of what the full lining is made out of. It’s not super scratchy, but it could be polyester.
The Fit: It’s not a bulky “classic” fit by any stretch. It’s at least a little tailored, without being skinny. 7″ drop means the size 40R shown here came with size 33 waist pants, and will need to be hemmed to desired length. Unlike the J. Crew Factory Thompson, the lapels are a more agreeable (to most) 3″ wide, and the tail is a traditional length. Pants are decently tailored, but if you’re part of team thunder thighs, they might feel a little too close for comfort. Yet many will want them slimmed down.
The Rest: Sleeve buttons are non-functional, but do have accent stitching around them. Dual vents in the rear. This thing has one hell of a chest piece in it. It’s not the softest construction for a suit jacket, that’s for sure, but it has some guts. No word if it’s a half-canvas or not (good luck trying to figure that out). The shoulder pads are going to be a little strong for some tastes, and there is a little odd buckling/rumpling around the crest of the pad out of the box. Maybe that’ll fall out with wear? I’m talking before I even get it on. I almost always have shoulder divots. Thanks deltoids!
The Bottom Line: They’re okay. Some will see these Franklin Tailored suits as a decent alternative to J. Crew Factory’s “Thompson” line, especially with the slightly wider lapels & a longer, more traditional jacket. Decent quality, fair price, and nice to see something made in this hemisphere… eh?
Franklin Tailored Micro Neat Sportcoat – $197.97
Shown above: a 40R on 5’10” / 190lbs.
Country of Origin: Like the suit… Oh Canada!
The Materials: Also like the suit, the shell is all wool with an unknown, full lining. Unlike the suit, this wool is soft. Not super 130s soft, but noticeably softer than the sharkskin material. And the different shades of blue (appears to be three shades) that make up the micro-dot pattern give it some nice visual texture.
The Fit: Seems to be the same as the suit. Trim without being skinny. 3″ lapels. Double vents in the rear.
The Rest: Sleeve buttons are non-functional, but these DON’T have accent stitching around them. That’ll make for super-easy tailoring. But, and this is kinda an odd choice for a blue sportcoat, the buttons are black? Not a dark brown, but black? It’ll still go with dark brown shoes and belts, but black buttons don’t usually show up on a blue sportcoat. Also know that when compared to the suit, the chest piece feels a bit lighter and more flexible on the sportcoat.
The Bottom Line: A really nice debut for this new Amazon clothing project. Worth looking into if a pattern strikes your fancy. But if you can nab a J. Crew Ludlow or Crosby sportcoat on sale, for around the same price, then the quality of the construction and materials from J. Crew is probably going to be better. Still, fits and feels better than the suit.
Franklin & Freeman “Mitchell” Chelsea in Brown Leather – $65.97
Cheap leather but doable. Especially for the price. Comfortable out of the box.
Country of Origin: China. No shock there.
The Materials: These are… $66 boots. There is worse “leather” used on more expensive shoes, but full disclosure, this stuff doesn’t measure up to, say, the Banana Republic Chelsea boot, or the leather JC Penney uses on their Deacon and Gunner boots. That said, it’s not awful, and they are lined in leather, but they are quite uniform. Up close you can see that tell-tale, cheap leather, hairline crackle under the surface of the top coat of shine. Still, after trying them on and walking around the office for a bit? They seem like they should (should) hold up.
The Fit: A 10.5 fits like a 10.5. Slim through the sides, so if you’re a true wide foot? Forget it.
The Rest: Soles are a forgettable thermoplastic number.
The Bottom Line: They’re $66. Whattya want? Some will probably even love em at the price. Shape is great, shade is perfect, and they’re super inexpensive. If you want to try Chelsea boots? Not a bad basic pair to start with. (Now only if BR could make a pair in this shade…)
Franklin & Freeman “Sanders” Chelsea in Suede – $62.97
Great shape. Regular ol’ suede would have been fantastic.
Country of Origin: China.
The Materials: Cheap suede always trumps cheap leather right? Well… See, they applied a finish to these things. A “waxy” suede is how these are described on Amazon. And it’s sorta like BR’s “Ben” lace-up. That matte finish knocks the nap down a bit, and changes the look and texture of the boot. It’s fine, but a plain brown suede upper would have been great at this price.
The Fit: A 10.5 fits like a 10.5.
The Rest: Same sole as the leather pair.
The Bottom Line: Got the suedes just to compare the materials to the Franklin & Freeman smooth leather. Was disappointed with the “waxy” finish though. Not sure if it was a design choice, or someway to cover up flaws in the materials, but a plain suede upper woulda been preferable. Not terrible though, since that finish is more or less uniformly applied, and not splotched about in goofy “burnishing” clusters.