Tom Beahon, 29, and his brother Phil, 26, founded Castore in 2016 after quitting their careers as professional sportsmen. Now they have built up a following among those who want well-designed performance gear with a difference. Here, Tom Beahon tells the Castore story
Both my brother Phil and I have a sporting background. I was a professional footballer at Tranmere Rovers, where I played for four years, and then I played over in Spain, while Phil played cricket for Lancashire. The truth is that while we were both good enough at our respective sports to make a living and enjoy it, we knew that neither of us would really excel. So at the grand old age of 22 – which can feel middle-aged in sport – I made a decision that I wanted to start a business. And Phil said he’d join me.
Our idea for a premium sportswear brand suggested itself very naturally. We’ve been involved in sport all our lives and we both felt that the sportswear market could do with some new energy. It’s pretty stagnant, very dominated by a small clique of huge global brands; there really have not been many new entrants for a long time. So we came up with Castore: to fill a space we identified for an alternative, premium, higher-quality product, made using technical engineering, and with understated design. Garments not only for the gym and running, but also for our broader lives – to fit in with the trend where your sporting life merges with your everyday life.
From a design point of view, Castore is for those who don’t want to look like everybody else. These are affluent and discerning people who are into well-made and well-designed things – like great watches and cars – and also see their leisure time as having real value. For these people, it is increasingly important to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, so they can enjoy everything they have worked hard for. Higher-quality sportswear is perfectly suited to this attitude.
With all this in mind, we launched Castore three-and-a-half years ago as an online business, and within six months we had sold to 35 countries. We raised funds to expand and professionalise the business and now we are on sale in top stores in 60 countries, but we believe the future is still in digital, in e-commerce. We can see that online we have a loyal customer who buys more from us once he has tested the brand for the first time. There is an emotive connection here – people relate to the fact that we are a British sportswear brand competing with the giants.
And of course, there is the appeal of the quality of the product. We have a huge focus on sourcing proprietary fabrics: 95% of the fabrics we use are unique to Castore. We don’t buy fabrics off the peg, but instead we work with mills – predominantly based in Italy – to develop materials from scratch. We constantly strive to make them lighter, more durable and with great wicking properties. This is tangible and scientific; the difference between Castore and other brands is something you can really feel when you wear it.
We also use modern manufacturing techniques. Most of our products are made by European-based manufacturers who are best in class. We incorporate things like laser cutting, and sonic welded seams, which are on average five times stronger than those that are hand-stitched. For this reason, all our clothes come with a five-year guarantee.
Our best-selling piece is a good example of what we do. It’s called the Garcia Hoodie and it’s in a fabric patented to Castore that is completely waterproof, a blend of two materials: polyamide and elastane. While it will keep you dry, it’s also breathable – an unusual combination of qualities that normally tend not to work together. So you can wear the Garcia running and not overheat, while you are also protected from the elements.
As well as hoodies, we make T-shirts, shorts, jackets and accessories. All are in plain colours and very discrete – our people are not into showing off. It’s a kit strategy: to kit-out the athlete’s wardrobe. Our customers are often involved in different sporting activities, and we aim to kit them out for all of them. So, there is a running collection and a lighter-weight gym collection. We have pieces for longer distance runners too, and we recently launched a golf collection.
Castore is also Andy Murray’s official brand partner, we have a long-term relationship with him and in March he became board advisor for the brand. He’s the first sporting superstar to put us on the map, but we also supply up-and-coming athletes. We founded the Castore Academy to sponsor four guys in training for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Andy is introducing us to other high-profile sportsmen, but we really like working with young up-and-coming talent, too. All our academy members are based in Liverpool, which is where we are from.
Phil and I love sport, and if you truly love and have that passion for what you do, you work hard to make it work. Our motto is “Better Never Stops”, and this sums up our attitude. We now want to expand into other sporting categories and continue to innovate and excite – we’re looking to develop footwear and womenswear too. And we’ll do this by working together. As brothers we’re very close and can really rely on each other. Which is reflected in the origin of the name: in Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux are twin brothers.