Amazon has been quietly expanding its menswear private labels, which are available exclusively to Prime Members. Three of its workhorse lines, Amazon Essentials, Goodthreads and Buttoned Down, feature everyday staples for men including cotton t-shirts, slim fit chinos and button-down shirts that compete alongside established menswear brands and startups on its site. Here’s a quick-and-dirty guide on how to differentiate the brands:
Amazon Essentials features basic, affordable clothing staples for men
Amazon Essentials is the online retailer’s entry line, featuring everyday staples that find some compromises. Men can nab a slim-fit 100% cotton polo shirt for $12, pajama pants for $13 or a 2-pack of short-sleeve crewneck t-shirts for just $12. Classic fit, wrinkle-resistant, flat front chino pants cost only $20, though the pants are a 40% polyester / 60% cotton blend, while a 48% poly/52% cotton full-zip hoodie runs $19.
Amazon Essentials looks like a fast-fashion version of labels such as Dockers, Old Navy and JC Penney house brands like St. John’s Bay.
Goodthreads is Amazon’s answer to Banana Republic
Amazon invites fans of J Crew, Banana Republic and Izod menswear to try its Goodthreads line, a decided step up from “Amazon Essentials,” which the company advertises as a “go-to for wardrobe staples with the style you want.”
Goodthreads sports a really attractive combination of style and fit — and with decidedly more variety than the Buttoned Down line — across dress and casual button down shirts, chinos, shorts, t-shirts and socks ($15 for a 5 pack!). Goodthreads’ button down shirts are particularly attractive, from plaid cotton poplins to their two-pocket Chambray button-collar shirt to Goodthreads’ grey, two-pocket cotton button-down work-shirt.
Other favorites? Goodthreads 5 pocket chino pants feature a hint of spandex alongside 99% cotton twill — certainly an upgrade from the polyester blend of Amazon Essentials — and a “jean-inspired silhouette.” We also like the look of the shawl collar cotton cardigan sweater, which comes in an interesting range of colors (and has pockets).
Buttoned Down is Amazon’s affordable luxury line of “elevated menswear”
Amazon styles its Buttoned Down line as its affordable luxury line featuring superior materials like Supima cotton button down shirts. It advertises a “feels-like-custom fit without the wait.” Offerings like sub-$100 cashmere v-neck, crew neck, half-zip and full-zip sweaters, $49 button down Supima cotton shirts, $22 neck and bow ties, and $59 chinos suggest attractive price-points for a luxury line that has to be positioning itself to compete with Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom and Bonobos.
We are particularly fond of the 100% cashmere full-zip cardigan sweater.
Buttoned Down also offers an unconditional lifetime satisfaction guarantee that provides a full refund to customers if not completely satisfied “at any time.” That’s rare for any company, let alone Amazon, who has been protective about its return policies.
Amazon Prime Brands for jeans: Differentiating between Denim Garage, Rugged Mile, Comfort Denim Outfitters, Nothing but Denim, and more
Here is a quick guide to differentiating between the denim jeans offered on Amazon.com via its Prime Brands:
Denim Garage Classics aim to be your favorite jeans featuring premium fabrics, washes and whiskering to produce classic denim for men and women at a mid-price point. These relaxed, straight leg jeans for men in deep blue have a hint of elastane stretch and button fly, as well as 3D fading and (purposly) ripped details on the knees. Nothing But Denim seems a little edgier, with detailed stitching – evident on this cool pair of black jeans – and in some cases more aggressive washes, fading, tearing and even patches.
Comfort Denim Outfitters is a really affordable price point for premium fabrics sourced from some of the world’s best mills in India. The brand offers a slew of washes and detailing including selvedge edges on raw denim.
The Rugged Mile brand from Amazon focuses on “ethically sourced and sustainably produced” wardrobe staples, and their jeans are advertised as “edgy-meets-sleek cuts and fits.” These men’s slim fit performance jeans are constructed from cotton and “LYCRA dualFX technology” (aka T400 Elasterell-P nad LYCRA Elastane), which were developed to improve fabric flexibility and recovery and are found in denim from American Eagle.
Amazon’s Quality Durables brand features, according to the company, “authentically washed and lived-in essentials, timeless denim, and rugged work wear,” and their jeans appear to focus on comfort, with some jeans featuring a stretchable waistband and elastane for stretch.
Amazon Essentials supplies other options including these men’s straight fit stretch jeans made of 98% cotton and 2% elastane, and Goodthreads has upgraded essentials like this pair of straight fit cotton/elastane blend dark blue rinse jeans as well as more densely-woven selvedge jeans.
A Shorthand Guide to Other Amazon Menswear brands
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Amazon’s ever-expanding stable of fast-fashion menswear brands.
Amazon has quietly rolled out a series of new brands over the past several years including:
- Badger Smith (super-funky button down shirts in bold plaids, stripes and colors),
- Clifton Heritage (button down shirts and chinos),
- Comfort Denim Outfitters and Denim Garage Classics (jeans),
- Flying Ace (t-shirts, jersey tops and pants),
- Good Brief (underwear),
- 28 Palms and Isle Bay Linens (island-inspired linen and cotton shirts, pants and shorts),
- Linz Pure and the Knitwear Lab (sweaters),
- Peak Velocity (performance athletic wear),
- Portland Plaid Co. (rugged outerwear for men and women),
- Quality Durables (“casual lifestyle”),
- Rebel Canyon (“more than just a streetwear label, it’s a way of life”),
- Something for Everyone (“streetwear classics for men and women”),
- Trailside (hiking, ski and outdoor clothing and accessories) and
- Trimthread (faux-leather biker jackets, among others).
Sometimes the launches are a little splashier, as in 2018, when the company put out a press release to announce the launch of Amazon label Meraki, a European fashion brand focusing on “simple, modern essential” pieces, including thin, v-neck sweaters for men.
Amazon appears to be testing a number of different concepts and supporting the ones that see traction, though some of the lines could use some additional baking. For example, Chain Stitched specializes in striped crew neck sweaters, though the branding reads like it was written by someone whose first language is something other than English. This is their “story” from Amazon’s website: “We use cotton as the main material to produce clothing – adding some fashion elements to make you wear cozily and worrilessly. It’s made for everyday wear, in the name of fashion.” Yikes.
Characteristically, Amazon also appears ready to shift directions. For example —
Franklin Tailored was Amazon’s first effort at suits and sports coats
Back in February 2016, Amazon launched a series of clothing and footwear brands as it moved more directly into the retail apparel business. One of those brands was Franklin Tailored, Amazon’s initial, well-received entry into affordable tailored clothing for men, complete with nailhead sports coats, wool trousers and tuxedos — some of which were made in Canada. As of this writing, however, the selection of Franklin Tailored merchandise on Amazon appears to be limited. Curiously, Franklin Tailored is no longer listed as one of Amazon’s brands in its filtering function. This suggests that Amazon may be winding down its Franklin Tailored brand.
Franklin and Freeman was Amazon’s first shoe brand
Amazon launched its in-house men’s shoe brand Franklin and Freeman at the same time as Franklin Tailored in 2016. The shoes and boots are made in China from leather or suede and tend towards the dressier side. As is the case with Franklin Tailored, Amazon appears to be winding down the Franklin and Freeman brand. As of this writing, selection is spotty and the company does not list Franklin and Freeman among its house brands on its website.
Have you tried Amazon’s private label menswear brands? What has your experience been?
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