Freenote Cloth has been a low key, hidden gem brand that I recently found in the past few years. I first saw their product instore at Standard & Strange in Oakland in around 2013. Ever since I purchased my first Freenote Cloth jacket at a pop up in March 2016, I’ve really been a huge fan of their outerwear. I met Dave, one of the three owners and also the sales director, and had a real down to earth talk about the retail side of menswear. I remember hearing that vendors typically purchase wholesale at 50% of their price, so when a store has a typical sale of 15-20% off, they still make a large chunk profit even after overhead costs. When items go further down into 30-40%, likely for reasons to clear space for new items, they’re still breaking even.
A bit of intro about Freenote Cloth. The brand based in San Juan Capistrano, California, and recently opened up their flagship store here in Highland Park, CA. The two brothers Matt and Andrew have over a decade worth of experience and the brand produces garments made in the US with top notch fabrics sourced from Japan. The style that I feel the brand encompasses is strong roots in Americana and quality garments long lost from the western American frontier.
With the flagship store located in the next city over from where I live not more than 10 minutes away, I have stopped by the store more than a handful of times to chill. The store is located on Figueroa Street in the midst of the currently “gentrified” Highland Park. The city itself has a interesting demographic with half working class Hispanics and the other half young, hip couples with a rad fashionable style. Just a bit further down the block is Civil Coffee with craft coffee and espresso drinks. I think the Freenote Cloth’s location is perfect for what the brand represents and how fast they’re expanding.
About a week ago, I learned through IG that Freenote was having a sample sale on Jan 27th Sat for one-off or past season items. I marked my calendar and was excited for what goods were included! Because I had already been to the store, I tried on the RJ2 jacket in burgundy on multiple occasions, but couldn’t justify the $440 tag price.
Freenote Cloth RJ2 Jacket in Burgundy
- British Millerain waxed canvas
- Front pleat detail
- Welted hand pockets
- Universal zippers from Japan
- Chambray lining
- Custom metal trims from Kentucky
- 1/8″ double needle stitch detail
- Interior chest pocket
- Made in the USA
On the day of the sample sale, the jacket was hanging on the front most rack in one size run from S-L. I wasn’t too sure what was included in the sample sale, but I saw several people trying on the jacket. I eventually manned up to ask one of the associates Greg (@thedenimhound) if the jacket was included in the sale, and it was! It was priced half off and came out to about $220 before tax. I couldn’t find any other Larges in the store, so I held on the the jacket in my pile until I was ready to head out!
The RJ2 stands for the “Rider’s Jacket 2” and has a more minimalist, cleaner silhouette than the original Rider’s Jacket. The major differences is that it has a Universal zippered front instead of buttons and a single left chest zip pocket instead of two open chest pockets. Another detail is that the front pleat was reduced from two to one. The Freenote leather patch is super thick and detailed.
The jacket is inspired from elements from a Type 1/2 jacket such as the pleated front. Because the jacket is of robust waxed canvas, Freenote had to find the right hardware that wouldn’t pull through and leave a hole in the fabric. Eventually, a 12L open top burrs with 2 prong fasteners were used – small enough to be aesthetic, but also strong enough to hold the pleats without pulling through. The rear waist tab buttons are still there which are present on today’s Type II and Type III jackets.
The chambray lining is what I’m used to wearing on my Olive Waxed Rider’s Jacket. It’s surprisingly breathable even through the heavy duty waxed canvas. The color of the jacket is listed as Burgundy, however, I think the actual color leans more towards a Chocolate Brown in actual lighting. I think the gold hardware contrasts well with the Burgundy color instead of silver hardware.
The top left zippered pocket is not large enough to fit my iPhone X, so I doubt I’ll be using it for that! I’ll most likely be using the interior chest pocket for my phone.
I sized the same as my typical Freenote Cloth outerwear, a Large. Enough to layer an additional flannel shirt. The color is pretty unique for waxed cotton; the typical colors I see waxed cotton jackets in are Olive (ahem Barbour), Black, or Tan.
This will be my go-to jacket for light drizzling rain days. The wax is still pretty fresh from manufacturing, and I don’t imagine it requiring a re-wax anytime soon. I tend not to use umbrellas unless I really need to, so I usually to wear my Archival Clothing Waxed Camp Hat and Freenote Cloth Waxed Rider’s Jacket. However, they both are in olive so I literally become a tree. Now that I have a burgundy Rj2, that will provide some extra contrast from my hat!