If you were to wear your sweatpants to your office job 15 years ago, you probably would’ve been packing your things the minute your boss laid eyes on your casually hanging drawstring.
These days, the lines are much more blurred.
And it’s all because of the rise of leisurewear.
And in recent years, Public Rec.
What Is Public Rec?
Founded in Chicago by former investment banker, Zach Goldstein, Public Rec is a leisurewear brand for men.
Don’t worry, I hear what you’re thinking.
How do you go from working at JP Morgan to starting a men’s leisurewear company?
It all started in the late 2000’s when Goldstein was still in college. He loved wearing sweatpants but saw two big issues (and if you’ve worn sweatpants over the last decade you’ll probably relate):
- Finding a pair that actually fit well
- Finding a pair that don’t look like something only your mom would dare wear around the house
After a few years in finance, the budding athleisurepreneur still felt no other brand had successfully closed what he saw was a huge gap in the growing leisurewear market. So Goldstein took action and quit his job in pursuit of his Public Rec dream.
Fast forward 18 months and Public Rec’s flagship product, the All Day Every Day Pant was launched via Kickstarter in 2015. It was more than a comfortable success, storming to over $175,000 in pledges against a mere $15,000 goal. We’ll be reviewing the 2021 version of the same pant below.
And that’s exactly how you make the leap from boardroom to dressy-sweatpant startup. Question answered if you ask me.
Four years on from its debut Kickstarter success, Public Rec now boasts an entire range of bottoms, tops, layers, and accessories, and we’ll be sharing our personal thoughts on several pieces below.
The brand’s apparel is manufactured primarily out of Southeast Asian garment powerhouse countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Peru, and Thailand. But they’ve also established production partnerships closer to home in Vancouver, Chicago, and Portland.
Public Rec’s main slogan is “we make leisurewear for everywhere”. Beyond versatility, they also claim to provide a tailored fit through custom-made performance fabric, as well as design details that are better than their competitors, and indoor-level-comfort.
Naturally, we’ve focused on these benchmarks across the review.
Public Rec Review & Unboxing
We got quite the haul from Public Rec. Here’s the rundown:
- All Day Every Day Pant in Heather Navy
- Politan Hoodie in Midnight Blue
- All Day Every Day Short in Stone Grey
- Pro Pack (Plus) in Heather Gray
- Go-To Henley (Short Sleeve) in Heather Navy
Each item came wrapped in an individual plastic baggie, with everything packaged neatly into a branded cardboard box.
First, I’ll share our team’s mini-reviews of each item, before I give my overall opinion on Public Rec as a whole.
First up, let’s talk pants.
Public Rec Pants Review: All Day Every Day Pant
So here it is.
The piece that started it all.
The All Day Every Day Pant is, and always has been, designed for the guy on the go who wants to do his ‘going’ in both comfort and style.
And as mentioned above, the pants capture Zach Goldstein’s big-picture vision for Public Rec.
The pants are made from a spandex/nylon blend of breathable, moisture-wicking fabric and crowned by an elastic waistband and internal drawstring.
And they really are super comfortable. The stretch from the spandex is noticeable as soon as you pull these babies on and we like how much give there is in the waist.
Our model wore these out while shooting photography on a hot humid day in Texas and didn’t sweat in them at all. I can promise you from experience that this wouldn’t have been the case with a regular old pair of sweatpants.
The pants also boast tapered bottoms and faux front fly, and for utility points, two front and two back pockets, the former being zippers.
The front zipper pockets are nice and deep. We were able to easily fit our phone, wallet, and keys in those two alone. The back two are an added bonus and also feel nice and secure (albeit not zippered).
And because the drawstring is internal and the branding elements are subtle, we’d feel comfortable wearing these within any creative or relaxed professional environment, or on any dress-down day (but not for business casual, of course).
The small logo on the right back pocket is the only branding element visible to the eye.
As a downside, our model is a slim 5’11” and found them to run just a touch baggy in the legs. If we were ordering again we’d try a size down, but we seem to be in the minority after scanning other customer reviews. Your mileage may vary.
While its price places it at the premium end of the Leisurewear market, we think the All Day Every Day Pant justifies its current price tag given its innovativeness, quality construction, and luxurious comfort.
If it were to creep above a Benjamin though (as it has in the past), the value for money argument becomes tougher for us to make.
The Politan Hoodie
Transitioning from dressed up sweatpant to dressed up sweatshirt, let’s talk hoodies.
Specifically, the Politan Hoodie.
Crafted from an easy-care moss jersey blend of spandex and polyester, the Politan is designed with the same indoor/outdoor mantra of versatile comfort that we now expect from Public Rec.
It has an ever-so-slight v-neck collar which we really like as a unique feature (ditto on the raglan shoulder seams). The cut of the collar is nice and even and it’s kept together with decent stitch density.
This bad boy also offers a kangaroo pouch with a hidden zipper pocket and media opening which we found to be awesome for storing your phone and keys.
In terms of fit and comfort, you know how sometimes you slip into a new hoodie and life gets that tiny bit better?
Well that was the case here. The medium fit our model perfectly across the arms, chest, and in length (a rare trifecta in hoodie world). And we appreciated that the hood itself has a lot of stretch to it (especially because our model, Taylor, has a big head—he’ll love me for sneaking this in). The fabric has a quality feel to it, and it feels really nice to touch.
As apparel reviewers, we’re cynical by nature but we’re genuinely struggling to come up with any negatives to report on for the Politan.
If you’re in the market for a high quality, super comfortable, versatile, and classy looking performance hoodie, we think you’ll struggle to find better at this price point.
The All Day Every Day Short
What do you do when your debut product becomes a bestseller?
You recreate a mini-me version, of course.
The All Day Every Day Short is made from the same cut of moisture-wicking spandex/nylon fabric as its namesake pant and has all the same features, right down to the elastic waistband and internal drawstring.
Rather than choosing a specific inseam length, the shorts are available in regular or tall.
They run at an athletic length, sitting comfortably above the knee. The length in regular felt just about perfect for our 5’11” model.
Again, just like the namesake pants, the pockets were deep and even fit our photographer’s XL-sized phone.
All of the pros we mentioned for the pants apply here. The shorts are super comfortable, especially around the waist, and the material feels great against the skin. The fabric is nice and breathable, and the length allows great mobility for playing a spot of tennis or any other athletic activity.
Besides being complement magnets, they’ve quickly become our go-to ‘getting around with the potential of doing something active’ shorts. Check them out for yourself.
The Pro Pack
Let’s break up the worn apparel party for a few minutes.
The Pro Pack is currently Public Rec’s only backpack. It comes in Heather Grey (pictured) or Heather Black (if you’re a girl named Heather, we apologize on behalf of modern-day product coloring).
Back to the Pro Pack—it’s crafted from a water-resistant, heavyweight poly twill fabric blend—so clearly with durability in mind. It comes in medium or large. We picked up the large which runs at 18x12x7.5 giving you 26.5 liters of carting-stuff-around capacity.
It has a separate 15” laptop compartment. It locked our MacBook in nice and snug.
Moving to the outside, the main double zippers feel sturdy (they’re also waterproof which is a nice touch) and move effortlessly.
One of our favorite features is the passport/phone zipper pocket on top for quick on-the-go access.
It also has a bottom zipper compartment and a sleeve for a luggage handle (both only available in the large version), as well as a water bottle slip pocket on the left side.
It’s features like this which definitely take a bag from good to great.
The large version isn’t small at 18 inches in height, but the padded back means it’s quite comfortable.
We also appreciate the firm polyurethane base which means you can set the bag flat while you’re packing or unpacking.
The subtle branding—which we’re now realizing is something of a hallmark across Public Rec products—allows the aesthetics of the large swaths of heather grey fabric to do the talking.
The color is a great choice. We dig the look.
Our only con is purely a personal one—we’d probably go for the slightly more portable medium version if we were ordering again. The large version runs deep enough to almost double as a small piece of luggage and we just feel we’d get more use out of this as a daily driver if it were smaller.
Overall, if you’re looking for a high-quality backpack that’s clearly durable, carries well, and is packed with plenty of well thought out features, then your search may be over with the Pro Pack.
The Go-To Henley (Short Sleeve)
This one is made from a custom blend of Pima cotton, TENCEL®, and spandex for that trademark Public Rec performance stretch.
It has the same raglan shoulder seam design that we saw with the Politan Hoodie, designed to give a more athletic fit. Another finer detail is the brand’s use of flatlock stitching, a common method used by quality athletic wear makers to reduce chafing.
So what do we think of it?
First things first, the material is soft. And we mean really soft. You can tell by feeling it that many-a-sample was lost to the sewing room floor in getting the blend just right. It’s 100% the most comfortable henley we’ve tried.
We also found the cut to fit our model nicely. Cheap or poorly designed henleys have a tendency to run too small, particularly in the shoulders and sleeves. But the seams of the Go-To follow the shape of our model’s shoulders and torso nearly perfectly.
Yes, this isn’t the cheapest henley you’ll find (by some margin)—but if you’re this far into the review, we’re assuming that you’re the type of guy who factors in fabric quality, fit, and feel alongside cost in at least equal measure.
And if our assumption is correct, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Go-To Henley.
My Overall Thoughts On Public Rec
What I Like
Public Rec’s understated branding elements and use of solid, neutral tones, makes its leisurewear highly versatile and creates ample opportunity for layering and dressing up or down.
It’s clear that incredible attention to detail has gone into stitch and build quality, as well as the weave of each individual fabric blend, which is, for the most part, unique to every piece.
The clothing is extremely comfortable and every item universally feels super soft against the skin.
The unique design features such as hidden zip pockets, and raglan shoulder seams, are well thought out and separate Public Rec from some of its competitors.
All Public Rec pieces are prototyped and refined for a minimum of one year. And it shows. The brand’s catalog is clearly being constructed with intention. There’s still a relatively limited number of SKUs, but each one makes sense for the brand’s identity.
Nearly all items fit exactly as expected, with only one minor complaint on the pant.
What I Don’t Like
Not necessarily a true-to-form negative, but Public Rec has developed a poor Trustpilot rating—not for its clothing—but due to customers overlooking the clear option during checkout to add duties and taxes into shipping costs, and thus being charged at customs to their surprise.
Public Rec does break down these potential charges on its FAQ page but perhaps a change could be made to drive this point home even more clearly during check out to avoid these poor reviews tarnishing the perceived quality of the brand online.
I’ve said it before, but with each year that ticks over in my 30s, the more I’m drawn to versatile clothing.
Insert [old man giving up on life and wearing out whatever he finds on the floor] joke here.
As you might imagine, I’ve amassed A LOT of menswear in this line of work. And so short of becoming an apparel hoarder, I’m forced to conduct regular audits of my closet.
And while my conditions for entry of quality, fit, style, and design have remained in place for many years, versatility has crept into the mix—and not only that—it’s becoming more and more important with each new piece that I get my hands on.
And in basic terms, it makes sense. If a piece is well made, looks and great, and is super comfortable, AND it can be worn effortlessly around the house and out-and-about, it’s immediately way more valuable than a piece that I wouldn’t dare even be seen walking to my own mailbox wearing.
Public Rec is all about all of those things. And I think that’s why the brand has impressed me so much.
But you don’t need to be a weird clothing auditor like me to find value here.
If you place any importance on premium comfort, fit, build quality, versatility, and a clean aesthetic—and you have the budget to spend up for the privilege of experiencing the best of all of those things together—then I recommend giving Public Rec a try for yourself.
Who knows? You might even become a dressy-sweatpant wearing boss yourself.