It’s that time of year again when it’s still 80+ degrees outside, but all the stores are freezing cold, hoping you’ll buy the new winter and fall styles. One of which that comes back every year to J.Crew and J.Crew factory is the excursion and quilted puffer vests. They are strikingly similar to each other, but not 100%. Here’s how they stack up against each other::
**this post contains affiliate links**
First the fabric
After all, isn’t the fabric the most important part? (Besides the fit– which is identical in this case.) The retail version is on the left and the factory on the right. Retail is the navy one and factory is the buffalo check one. Both are from 2014.
They stack up almost evenly. Only difference is the composition of the fill. One is 60% down and the other is 70% down. The 10% difference is not going to make a huge difference in the warmth and quality of the vests. So they are equal in materials.
Then the finishes
Since they are equal on the materials, the next area to investigate for differences is the finishes and details.
There are slight differences in the zip up. The factory version has a double zip, meaning it can zip up with the first tab and you can partially open it back up with the second zipper. The retail version does not have the double zip.
The main difference is in the pockets. The retail version has a snap flap pocket that opens from the top and then they open without snaps from the side. Pockets on the factory one have a slant snap opening. Subtle, but worth noting where they separate on identicalness.
This is the third most important factor (technically the first, but usually we all agree that we get what we pay for). The retail excursion quilted down vest is priced at $120. Factory’s quilted puffer vest starts at $98. While they may swap whichever one is cheapest depending on sale styles and promotion codes, the factory version is less expensive most of the time.
When you’re patient, you can get an amazing deal. I really wanted the buffalo plaid factory one, so I waited and tried to get the best price on it and ended up paying $44 last December for it. I paid about the same for the retail pinstripe one in November of last year, ringing in at $45. If I had waited a month longer for the retail version, I could’ve picked it up for about $30 at the last promo I saw it at.
The differences are negligible at best between the retail and factory vests. Both are great options for vests and have held up well over the seasons I spent wearing them and they still look very good since I unpacked them recently in anticipation of the 2015 winter. My recommendation is to get one that suits your budget and tastes.