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Reviewed: Primal Airespan Women’s Knit Shirt and Sports Bra

Cycling brand Primal have dipped a toe in the active lifestyle market - we put the kit to the test...

We were mega excited when we saw that clothing brand Primal had moved into the gym and leisurewear market with their 2016 range. Fashionable sports gear from brands such as Sweaty Betty, Lulelemon and Nike has become extremely popular in recent years, and we were intrigued to see how cycling specialists Primal would compete with their new shirts, sports bras and tastefully stylish legging selection.

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Lorena Jones has reviewed the Primal Airespan Women’s Shirt and sports bra – here’s how she got on…

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Lead by co-founder Judith Smith herself, the Airespan range is the brainchild of a woman with a vision. The kit boasts a clear colour theme running throughout, allowing for matching outfits, or easy mixing if you’re after a less uniform style. I was so impressed with the Primal Airespan women’s knit shirt that I couldn’t wait to share my findings.

My initial reaction was to admire the aesthetics. Perfect for everyday wear, the Airespan shirt is comfortable and practical without looking too sporty, not to mention that one of the three colour options (grey, purple and teal) matches our very own Total Women’s Cycling colour scheme perfectly.

I wore the top for the first time on a commute to work, and it quickly became clear that I was going to be impressed by more than aesthetics. Arriving at the office, I noticed that the lightweight jacket I had worn on top of the knit shirt revealed a few giveaway sweat marks in all the suspect places – my underarms and back. Nothing out of the ordinary. I didn’t pay this much attention until I took the jacket off to find my Primal Airespan shirt was bone dry. I kid you not I literally stood in front of the mirror double checking. This could only be MAGIC at work!

10 tips for bike commuters

Well, that or clever design. Using a mesh pattern within the stretchy fabric, Primal have enhanced the body’s natural ability to cool by wicking the sweat away from the surface of the skin and taking it to the outer surface of the shirt where it can evaporate.

This quick wicking effect also claims to reduce any odour, so that when the shirt dries it doesn’t smell. This may be true for light wear but if you are going some at the gym or on the bike on a daily basis prepare to have another handy  – I found it did need washing after use.

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I was so confident in the top, that I decided to wear it for one of my greatest challenges yet – a 24 hour race, that could feature varying weather conditions. I wore the Airespan top under a cycling jersey and it worked perfectly. The seamless design helped minimise any friction when sat between my skin and outer layers, ensuring comfort throughout 24 hours.

Of course, the Airespan is not designed to be a base layer at all times – it can be worn as a top in its own right. The stretchable melange fabric not only gives it a comfortable, lightweight fit, but also a vibrant and distinctive appearance.

The Airespan top has seen heavy use from me – and I’ve only had one uncomfortable experience: following the heavy rainfall during the L’Eroica sportive. Worn alone in wet weather, the knit shirt not only dries incredibly quickly, but continues to work efficiently to wick the moisture from the skin’s surface. However, trapped under a wet second layer, be it a jersey, fleece, or jacket, the moisture is unable to evaporate having been shifted to the outer surface of the shirt and thus has the potential of becoming quite warm and clammy.

What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” ― William Shakespeare,

Names are important. With no mention of ‘cycling’ or ‘jersey’, Primal make it clear that the Airespan women’s knit shirt is not simply intended for cycling, but instead can be used across an array of sports and activities. The Airespan shirt doesn’t have the rear pockets or other features that we would expect with a cycling jersey – but instead is sprinkled with a variety of details within the design such as the new and improved Primal logo on the left sleeve and the rear lower right hand side of the shirt.

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Primal have taken the time to ensure that each and every item within their lifestyle range, which currently includes leggings, bras and shirts, works as a stand-alone piece but also matches the other items within the range.

The Primal Airespan Women’s Sports Bra follows a similar design to the Airespan women’s knit shirt and also comes in three colour options, grey, purple and teal. Boasting similar features as a result of the design and fabric chosen, the bra was very comfortable and supportive. Intended to work together as well as separately, both the Bra and the shirt worked very efficiently to maintain comfort throughout, whilst also looking stylish.

Shirt: £35, Bra: £28. See the range here. 

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