Can Castore, the hyped menswear sports brand, deliver with its activewear for women? Stylist puts it to the test.
Working out in the heat of the summer means swelling, rubbing and plenty of sweat. There’s nothing worse than trying to achieve a PB or run that extra distance only to be scuppered by ill-fitting activewear that doesn’t let your skin breathe and leaves you hot and bothered.
So, when I signed up for a 10k race in London in July, I knew I’d need kit that would keep me cool, calm and collected as I pounded the pavement under the summer sun. I was drawn to Castore’s activewear, which uses unique technical fabrics and ergonomic designs to help athletes smash their goals, even in the heat.
You may recognise Castore’s angel wing logo. Created in 2016 by the Liverpool-born Beahon brothers, in just six years the British brand has already made kit for English Premier League football, Formula 1 motor racing and the England cricket team, as well as sponsoring major sports personalities including Andy Murray.
With such an impressive roster of clients, I was curious to know whether Castore, which promises to test all its kit with elite athletes and be an “aspirational premium alternative” to other mass-produced sportswear brands, lived up to all the hype and whether a brand that was initially launched with menswear in mind can cater properly for women. I put it to the test.
There’s nothing garish or showy about Castore’s kit. Every piece, be it the quarter-zip top, £105, speed vest, £45, or shorts, £60, is perfectly tailored. This is sleek, practical, smart sportswear. I love the use of muted, soft colours, which avoid being boring by using interesting shades, such as pearlescent grey blue, creamy russet and chalky black.
I’m especially impressed by the streamlined addition of the mesh panelling that runs down the calf of the active air leggings, £65, and the fact that all of Castore’s fabrics are responsibly sourced within Europe. This is kit that wouldn’t look out of place in the gym or at a coffee shop.
The weather is hot and humid while I’m training for my 10k race, but Castore’s high-stretch and moisture-wicking fabric keeps me refreshed and stops me from getting too sweaty. The material is buttery-soft and instantly cooling. This, along with features such as laser-cut ventilation, angled waist bands and flatlock stitching means I didn’t experience any rubbing or chafing while running.
On race day, I chose to wear the speed leggings, £60, with laser-cut ventilation spots behind the knee and an adjustable waistband that kept me cool and breezy in hot, sunny conditions.
The active core sports bra, £40, is the only piece of kit I didn’t enjoy wearing. It came with padded cups, which were much too big and cumbersome, but when I removed them it didn’t feel as tailored or slick as the other pieces.
I have no doubt that the Castore kit helped cool me down during my race and helped me increase my distances while training thanks to the breathable, feather-light fabric. Little touches like the thumb holes in the sleeve of the quarter-zip top and the expertly placed seams in the speed vest meant I could move freely and easily.
Despite being so soft and silky, the kit was extremely durable. You can tell this activewear has been made with its users in mind and the brand’s promise that all kit is tried and tested by elite athletes stands up.
Again the only piece that let the kit down was the sports bra, which felt suffocating with the foam cups and unsupportive after removing them.
Value for money
Starting at £40 for the sports bra and going up to £105 for the quarter-zip top, Castore’s kit is certainly premium. However, a quick feel of the plush fabric and the amazing cooling effect as soon as you put it on assures you that this is quality stuff, and the price point matches – if not comes in slightly lower – to other brands which also aim to create fashionable activewear.
My only reservations are that there are definitely better value-for-money sports bras out there and the sizing isn’t very inclusive; some pieces only go up to a size 16. This makes me feel Castore still has some work to do when it comes to catering for women.
Whether you’re an elite athlete or an amateur like me, you’ll definitely be impressed by the quality of Castore’s kit. Care, thought and a lot of cutting-edge science and tech has gone into this activewear, and the look and feel go above and beyond lots of other brands. It also manages to achieve that rare combination of being top-performance and genuinely stylish at the same time.
It’s a shame the sizing isn’t more inclusive and that the sports bra isn’t quite up to the standard of the rest of the kit, but as this young brand develops, hopefully so too will its womenswear offering.
Images: Castore; Lauren Geall
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