About the Author: Paul K., formally from Atlanta, lives and works as an IT administrator in Los Angeles. When he’s not busy freelancing as a photographer and videographer, you can find him getting his steps in on the many hiking trails of SoCal.
The collective thoughts on the announcement of Walmart buying Bonobos for $310 million back in 2017 had the Dappered community worried about what changes the big box store would inflict on the brand. Concerns that quality would be stripped down in the attempt to sell Bonobos branded in their big box stores was a shared feeling across the forums. But alas, and for our reliefs, Wally World decided to position Bonobos co-founder, Andy Dunn, to lead its “digital brands” section, and it appears (for now) that the Bonobos brand has been mostly(?) left on its own, to do its own thing.
Yet the Bonobos/Dunn influence wasn’t (wait for it)… done. A separate move (possibly to counter Target’s own Goodfellow & Co) was released in the same year. Fast-forward three years and the fruition of that brand, Free Assembly, is here. Supplying to both Men’s and Women’s wear, albeit quietly and without much fanfare. So with that, we have taken the liberty of reviewing some ‘stylish to the Dappered.com eye’ pieces below. Let’s roll.
Sizing Note: I am 5’10 / 175 lbs, all tops and jackets are in a medium size. Pants are in a 32×30 size.
Starting off, we have a men’s button-down Oxford shirt with a left chest pocket. Surprisingly, not bad. Fit borders on slim but not body hugging stuffy for a size medium. Sleeves fit well and length isn’t too much of a problem. Though I usually break in my Oxfords in a wash beforehand, there’s a slight softness right away. A timeless, oxford cloth button down, pale-light blue here, but they have other colors and a few patterns too.
Lighter weight jacket than many other Bombers out there, with a darker, more muted camo green and quilted seams that doesn’t scream for attention. Sizing feels like a standard as there is a slight ‘puffiness’ to the back, sides, and sleeves, but this can accommodate for layering up. Perhaps to cut down on wind chill sneaking in, the placket/closure is a combo of being buttoned and zipped. Each works well on its own, or in conjunction. A very minor issue is the interior is a very loud “hunting vest” orange , and there’s no interior pockets to speak of. Still, definitely one of the better items of this bunch.
Probably one of the worst fits out of this batch. Not feeling these at all. Though they’re labeled as a relaxed fit, that info is buried in the fine print. Everything is just loose throughout the legs. The only praise I have is the attention to detail with the inner waistband and pockets, which have a softer feel compared to the rough inner pockets of some pants that need to be softened with a couple of washes. Definitely a hard pass.
For transparency’s sake, I am not a fan of jackets comprised of fleece on the outer shell. More so, just because I’m clumsy and late-night dinners (or morning breakfast) at a Waffle House and after my All Star Special I always end up with a patch of syrup spilled somewhere. So, not for me, but maybe for the more outdoorsy types looking for thin layering. The fleece material is indeed soft and the collar zips all the way up to convert it to a mock neck for warmth. The zippers and cords attached have a contrasting color with mesh lining for the pockets. A strange find is that the chest pocket is just a piece of fabric sewn over the fleece. Don’t store any pens that could leak.
A lightweight chore jacket that frankly doesn’t give much to desire for. Sizing for medium can be confused for a large, which is most noticeable in the sleeves due to the overall diameter. Maybe not a problem for the Hulkster is his prime, but overall the jacket felt baggy. Even the side pockets are hilariously huge compared to other jackets and blazers with external pockets that I have. Texture and feel can be summed up with one word: staunchness. For those that favor a more relaxed cut for a chore jacket, I would still suggest you down.
Though there are some details done right, sizing can be a bit problematic. Features such as a hidden internal drawstring to allow adjusting is quite welcomed. The same drawstring is also in a fishtail, which is a nice touch to slim down the bottom of the jacket. What doesn’t work for me is the sizing. I’m swimming in a medium and could wrap the jacket fronts over each other to demonstrate how big this is. Sleeve length is also a concern, as they span all the way down to my second knuckle of my middle finger, when my arms are straight at my sides. (My dress shirt sleeve length is 33.) I would recommend to size down if you’re in between sizes, or order both your regular and one size down for fit comparison. The Hood is not detachable. Material is an 83% polyester / 17% cotton mix.
Some pros to highlight are the coloring of the dark denim. The seams are nicely done, with hardly any strays, say, compared to Old Navy. The zipper, pockets, and stitching are also executed nicely for anyone concerned with little details. Some concerns though, straight off the bat, is that this feels more like Slim Straight versus a true Slim. A small but noticeable issue is that the belt loops are strangely large and that they billow out when you might not be wearing a belt. Also, our shipment came with the front pant pockets whiskered, compared to what the model is wearing on the site. Unmistakable red selvedge seams, for those that like to cuff.
A lightweight, quilted vest that fits well. Navy for sure, but not a midnight/almost black navy. The mock neck features a soft, ribbed collar that extends for some protection. Slant pockets fit well but have no snaps for closure. A square seam of stitching is on the upper back area, yet no branding to be found. Not much insulation for the more dreary, colder weather but overall is nice to wear for early spring temps. Aside from no internal pockets and the loud orange inner shell (just like the camo bomber), it’s worth a grab when on sale.
Some hits, some misses. Which is to be expected. Got a tip on a Free Assembly piece that shoulda made this round up? Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Big thanks to our man Paul for taking this stuff for a spin.