Meet Messrs Phil and Tom Beahon, two brothers from Liverpool who abandoned promising athletic careers to start a premium sportswear brand
From left: Messrs Tom and Philip Beahon
Messrs Tom and Philip Beahon were at a crossroads. For as long as they could remember, their lives had revolved around sport. They were good at it, too. Mr Tom Beahon was a footballer who had played for Tranmere Rovers – “Liverpool’s third-best team”, as he puts it. Mr Philip Beahon, the younger of the two brothers by three years, was a county cricketer. But being good at sport is no guarantee of making it in the hyper-competitive world of professional sport, and despite their natural talents they were beginning to realise that their surest path to success lay elsewhere. The question, as they saw it, was a simple one. Did they want to be mediocre athletes – or did they want to be great at something else?
As luck would have it, their short-lived sporting careers had presented them with the perfect plan B. “We’d been living in sportswear for our entire lives,” says Mr Tom Beahon. “We had an athlete’s perspective on it. And, although we found the quality of mass-market sportswear to be quite good, there didn’t seem to be many brands going above and beyond.” The problem, they realised, was that the market was dominated by a handful of global household names designing sportswear for... well, everyone. And when you’re designing for everyone, it’s inevitable that compromises will be made. Where were the brands focused on high-quality, performance-driven sporting gear? There was clearly a gap in the market for a brand aimed towards a more discerning customer, and so, armed with a business loan from the local bank, the brothers decided to fill it. In 2016, Castore was born.
The first collection took a while to get right. “Castore was intended as an engineering-first brand,” explains Mr Tom Beahon. “Our approach to design is based on the accumulation of marginal gains. We examine everything, from fabric to finished garment, for potential areas of improvement. If we can make a change that leads to a positive difference, no matter how small, we’ll make it.” This means rejecting off-the-peg fabrics in favour of working directly with mills to engineer custom fabrics instead. It’s a laborious and expensive process, but one that allows them to create incredibly lightweight garments. It means tiny details such as laser-cut ventilation holes located in the areas of the body that produce the most heat. Every element has been engineered to save weight, prevent chafing or assist thermoregulation. Nothing has been overlooked or left to chance.
The goal, says Mr Tom Beahon, is to maximise the wearer’s capabilities. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympian or an enthusiastic amateur, you’re ultimately striving for the same thing, which is to reach your full potential.” That said, the brothers happily admit that it is enthusiastic amateurs, rather than Olympians, that make up the brand’s target market. “We make sportswear for highly competitive men with busy professional lives,” says Mr Tom Beahon, who had the chance to scrutinise a few of his future customers during a four-year stint at Lloyds Bank in the City of London while the brothers were in the process of setting up their brand. (Mr Philip Beahon was working in a similar environment at Deloitte at the time.) “They might work 60, 70 hours a week but they still hit the gym before work and compete in triathlons at the weekend.”
A pop-up shop that opened in December in London’s swanky Knightsbridge district, just a stone’s throw from the Harrods department store, gives some indication of exactly whom Castore is intended for. But the future customer may look very different indeed. The brothers are keen to dress the next generation of elite athletes and have already begun to establish a roster of future stars in their mid- to late-teens whom they expect to make a splash at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. And if that wasn’t enough, the brand has even found favour with one of the biggest names on the tennis circuit. Last week, ahead of his first-round appearance at the Australian Open, the three-time Grand Slam winner Sir Andy Murray announced that he will wear Castore until he officially retires from the sport later this year. Along with up-and-comers and legends in the twilight of their careers, will we one day see the brand competing with the likes of Nike, Puma and adidas for the chance to sponsor global sporting icons in their prime? Nothing seems beyond the ambitions of the Beahon brothers, who have already secured millions in venture capital for their two-year-old brand.
It’s not just publicity that Castore stands to gain from its athlete sponsorship programme. This also plays a crucial role in the research, development and testing of new products. “All Castore clothing is tested by elite athletes for 100 days before hitting the market,” says Mr Tom Beahon. “We recently provided sportswear for Team GB rower Joel Cassells during a six-week training camp, and while our customers may never do anything that extreme themselves, the knowledge that they’re wearing gear that is capable of going beyond the limits of human performance gives them confidence to go beyond their own limits.”