Editor’s Note: We decided to have Ryan do a B.R.F. roundup because so far in 2022, mainline BR had gone cold on codes and promos. Yet just days before we were set to run this 10,000 foot view of the brand, mainline BR launched their first big sale of the year. B.R. Factory is also doing the friends and family thing, but it’s 50% off for them, with an additional 20% off for cardmembers with the code BRCARDVIP. That promo ends today,
3/15/22. UPDATE: Annnnd they just extended it through tomorrow, 3/16. Prices below reflect the 50% off.
“Factory” stores get a bad — but sometimes fair — rap.
Are they the exact quality of their mainline counterparts? Not usually (stay tuned), but do they deserve the “mneh” treatment when it comes to finding affordable, well-fitting menswear? Why are they sometimes treated like Walmart seconds? We decided that idea was worth a deep dive.
From a review perspective, I don’t have many mainline Banana Republic pieces, so I’m really starting from zero here with Banana Republic Factory. I’m judging these not against BR quality, but their worthiness of your wardrobe in a vacuum. Is it comfortable? Does it fit well? Is it a good value for the price? Let’s get to it.
Ryan N. is 5’9″, 160 lbs, and wears a size 31×30 in the below pants/jeans. Tops are sized as noted.
Slim Fit Travel Pants – $39.99 ($79.99)
Size Shown: 31×30
It’s a bit hard to describe this fabric – maybe, “performance twill,” if I had to name it? It’s not shiny, but it’s not your classic, matte-textured twill, because it’s very smooth; yet, it’s not really a performance pant, being 99% cotton and 1% lycra. A unique look, and the “honey comb” we’re testing out is certainly a unique color. I really liked the overall feel, and the fit is pretty spot on. BR does a great job with low-contrast stitching on their pants – the absence of which can quickly dress down an otherwise dressy-looking getup. But, since the thread is the same color as the pants here, it plays more formal. With the workboot-esque color, and five-pocket layout, you can’t dress them all the way up, but they can nicely complement a sweater and dress shirt, as well as pull weekend duty with your favorite tee. Lots of options here. No wonder the mainline version is so popular. And these do a similar job for less. Five colors to choose from.
Tailored-Fit Core Temp Blazer – $94.99 ($189.99)
Size Shown: 36R
Warning: Duck Butt. I won’t bury the lede here – I really, REALLY wanted to like this. As you can see in the header image, from the front, this slim-cut, slightly-stretchy jacket looks like everything you’d want in an affordable sportcoat. It can drive the ship by itself, or pair up with the Core Temp Chinos below to make a psuedo-suit. It’s comfortable, if not a bit stiff and zip-zoppy. Which would all be fine, except for.. the duck butt created by the weird single vent. I cannot get it to lay right. I’m not particularly on team #badonkadonk, so something is up. First, the vent is not cut long enough, meaning the less-forgiving fabric doesn’t have space to realign and drape properly. Worse yet, the unorthodox way it’s sewn in could provide problems for a tailoring fix. C’mon, fix the vent, BR, and it’d be a slam dunk. If it lays right on you, it’s a winner. If not, it’s a dud.
Core Temp Chinos – $49.99 ($98)
Size Shown: 31×30
What’s left to say that our man Brandon didn’t masterfully state in his standalone review of the BR Factory Core Temp Chino? Personally, I did not find them to be quite as shiny and zip-zoppy as his review lamented, but maybe they’ve tweaked the fabric in the past year or so. They taper nicely without constricting, they stretch and move extremely well. They’re easy to dress up or down. Supremely comfortable. Machine wash and tumble dry. The Core Temp Chino from Banana Republic Factory combines comfort, easy good looks, and relative affordability. Lightweight, flexible, breathable, smooth, and suuuper comfortable. Six total colors to pick from, including the above Midnight Navy.
Size Shown: Small
Given one of my few mainline BR pieces is 2019’s vegan suede jacket, it’s natural to do some direct comparisons. For being almost half the price, the faux-suede itself presents wonderfully here, though maybe not quite as buttery. It’s got rich color depth, and the hue is an outstanding, easy-to-match classic-suede lighter “sand” brown (although they appear to be sold out in the “sand” at post time? Charcoal is still left). Now for the “meh:” while the mainline version is 92% poly/8% spandex, with a 100% cotton lining, the Factory variant is 100% polyester, inside and out. It ends up less “hefty” in weight, which can be a positive or negative. While it definitely keeps the price down, having no stretch also makes the mobility suffer, making the chest and top of the arms restricting when doing “hug” and “bench press” type motions. No such issues on the BR one. Would have LOVED this to have even 1-2% stretch. Certainly delivers for the price point, though.
Size Shown: 31×30
One of BR’s most beloved items, the Travel Jean, makes it way to the Factory side. Admittedly, I don’t own a pair of the mainline version, but based on how good these are, I may need to give those a shot too. I’m pretty blown away by these. The shade of “rinse” is perfect to me, and features the color-match “shadow stitching” that makes them wear formal enough that my wife thought they were dress pants on first glance. These are a slightly different formula (56% cotton, 25% rayon, 17% polyester, 2% stretch) than mainline (44% cotton, 42% TENCEL™ modal, 13% polyester, 1% stretch), but I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel very similar. Due to the synthetic content, these don’t seem to wrinkle much, and they pull on and off much more like a suit pant than like a jean. Definitely becoming a new favorite.
While not your average classic cotton tee, the performance fabric on these, per the site, is 100% cotton “interlock,” which is extremely soft, firm and absorbent. “Mercerization treatment” then gives this fabric a silky, polished look and hand feel, adding strength and reducing shrinkage. I can’t say I disagree; for how smooth these felt putting on and taking off, I was absolutely shocked when I found out they were 100% cotton. I thought they had to be at least 40%+ polyester with how smooth, stretchy, and slightly shiny they are. Remarkable stuff. Seven colors to choose from. You can see the difference in fit between an XS (left) and a S (right). If you’re like me and like a really trim fit, with more fitted arms, then size down. If you prefer a looser fit, go your normal size here.
Size Shown: XS
The fabric on these is really great. The fit? Well, that’s a tough one. I ordered a size XS and S, and found pros and cons to each. The XS fit me almost perfectly in the neck, shoulders, arms and upper chest. But once it got to the waist, it started to taper too aggressively, and I felt a bit sausage-cased. However, the size S fit me great in the waist and lower torso, but pretty awful everywhere else, ESPECIALLY the neck. Because I could almost fit my entire hand in the collar gap when buttoned all the way up, I decided to measure.
The XS is 15.25″ from button to buttonhole, but the S is.. a whopping 16.25″.
Look at the difference! That ain’t a gap – it’s a chasm. 16-16.5″ is classically a size L collar. What? If you’re interested, I would either size down, or skip these altogether. Which is a shame, because they’re really nice. But the sizing is clearly having issues.
Everyday Crew Neck Sweater – $27.49 ($54.99)
Size Shown: Small
The Everyday Sweater is a staple, easy-wearing and comfortable. I found the sizing to again be a bit in-between, with the XS slightly too tight (and impossible to layer), but the S had plenty of room, which I don’t like either. Seems like BR Factory has some sizing issues similar to Target’s Goodfellow. There’s some real space between the sizes they offer. Comparison shot here (XS on left, S on right). Made of 60% cotton, 40% REPREVE polyester fabric from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. Another basic with lots of color options.
Size Shown: XS
I have a feeling this is going to be THE type of shirt you see a lot this summer, as I’ve seen it at a few stores already this season, including Goodfellow’s incoming Spring line. What you have here is a pique knit, with a full buttoned placket, whereas a polo just stops a few buttons down. So by marrying the placket of a dress shirt with the easy wear of a polo, you get something that can dress up or down really easily. You could wear this with a suit (say, a beach wedding), or a Friday happy hour. The button-down collar helps fight off “collar flop” that takes the life out of many a poor polo. The fabric is smooth (52% cotton, 48% poly), drapes nicely and frames the body well. I’d order your normal size (plus a size down) and see what speaks to you – I would have really been fine with either size here, but I’m going with the size down because of how nicely the arms hit.
Size Shown: Small
I’m not going to bury the lede here either – this is my new favorite sweater. This thing is hefty. Solid. Well-built. 100% cotton. It’s like wearing a blanket. I have been looking for a shawl collar cardigan like this that fits well in the body, doesn’t have flumpy arms, and has a nice strong collar. Check, check, and CHECK. The reason the collar is so sturdy is because, unlike many a shawl collar, the weave changes direction at the stress point behind your neck. Many shawls continue the longways stitch around the entire collar, leading to eventual sagging, but BR flipped that script by using a stronger vertical weave at that point, which means a collar so strong it can stand up on its own. To my point from the introduction.. what, exactly, makes this Factory version so much less expensive than its near-identical Banana Republic brother? Honestly, someone tell me. They’re both 100% cotton, same honeycomb weave, same pockets, same strong collar… yet, mainline is a significant price jump? Shrug. (Btw, man, “brown” seems like it could be a sleeper color this season? Seeing a lot of browns, tans, and deep yellows in this collection.)
About the Author: Ryan N. is a professional web developer for (and alum from) the University of Delaware, who keeps a close shave as to not be confused with his strongly-bearded twin brother. He plays guitar and drums, loves going to concerts again with his wife, and loves being a dad.