By Debbie Claggett and Tom Demerly with Tracy De Soto, Zara Guinard and Kristen Hetzel.
I love original, authentic brands. De Soto Sport defines authenticity and originality. Founded in the surf and triathlon capital of the world, San Diego, California, in 1990 De Soto Sports is designed, tested and built in the U.S. by athletes for athletes. While tracing its lineage back to San Diego has cool brand equity the company’s founders Emilio De Soto and Dan Neyenhuis bring real-world race experience to their apparel designs. Now women’s apparel designer Tracy De Soto joins the mix with new insights on the real world of women’s triathlon apparel.
“The Forza line is designed to fit, drape, support and flatter the entire size range, not just perfect bodies.”
Tracy De Soto, CFO of De Soto Sports, is an accomplished endurance athlete who typifies the California girl in looks and lifestyle. She brings practical and functional design insights to women’s De Soto triathlon apparel- and not just for the perfect triathlon body. The female De Soto’s influence has optimized fit, fabrics and features to produce a convergence of style and technology on the new apparel across all size ranges.
“Our women’s line now features products that are longer and looser in the midriff to be much more forgiving”, said Tracy De Soto. The new Forza Tri Short and Forza Tri Top typify this new approach to female apparel design that starts with function and ends with fantastic looks on race day no matter what size you wear.
De Soto Sports started with technical apparel in triathlon almost before anyone else was making it. The evolution of patterns, styles, fit, function and fabric runs deeper in the De Soto brand than almost any other brand. Of the early triathlon apparel brands from the late ’80’s and ’90’s De Soto Sports is the only one left under the same ownership. Everything they’ve learned about triathlon apparel goes into everything they make, and its easy to believe they’ve learned more than any other apparel brand. Whether you’ve raced in one of their one piece trisuits or done long training miles in their iconic 400-mile bib short you experience the authenticity of a brand built by people who do the sport.
When Tracy De Soto arrived at De Soto Sports the brand was known for its fetching, sometimes daring look in the women’s line. It was built for the perfect beach body, not the average Midwest athlete. Mrs. De Soto changed that. Tracy introduced technical features to improve function along with practical changes to provide better body coverage, looser, more forgiving fit where appropriate and size runs that new athletes could feel comfortable about trying on and racing in. For the new athlete Tracy De Soto’s influence made buying your finish line photo a whole lot better.
“Our women’s line now features products that are longer and looser in the midriff to be much more forgiving” Tracy De Soto, De Soto Sports.
De Soto Sports new Forza line starts with the Forza 3 Pocket Tri Short. For 2012 the high-end Forza Tri Short uses two key fabrics; A Liftfoil fabric front section and Compressor fabric hip and rear section. Liftfoil is a hydrodynamic, low absorbent fabric with reduced friction in water. It slips easily through the swim without absorbing too much water. Fit and feel stay constant even when wet and the innovative fabric helps you swim faster. The Compressor side panels use the same powerful compression fabric made famous in De Soto’s 400-Mile bike short. Since it was invented the Compressor fabric 400-Mile bike short has been an industry favorite according to triathlon forums like Slowtwitch.com and Beginnertriathlete.com. Compressor fabric improves fit, appearance and stabilizes tissue to reduce fatigue. It’s supportive feel is reassuring in larger sizes- think “control top tri shorts” with all day comfort.
De Soto Sports retained the quick-dry fleece pad in the Forza Tri Short since it is lightweight, breathable and works well over most distances. TriSports.com founder Debbie Claggett used the fleece pad shorts all the way up to Ironman distance with success. On the triathlon forum beginnertiathlete.com some women users reported comfort up to 70.3 (half-Ironman) distance. The pad is a proven performer in the swim since it’s quick drying and on the run its lightweight and flexible.
The matching De Soto Forza Tri Top uses De Soto’s most supportive built in bra. Tracy De Soto said, “The Forza Tri Top has maximum support. I haven’t heard a single complaint that it’s not supportive enough. When designing this top we made sure it worked for B and C cups and even up to D cups. It is very supportive without much movement. Some people don’t like that much support, for that we have the Carrera line with moderate support.”
The three major details of the top are optimized for a wide range of body types. The length extends below the waistline covering the top of the shorts for a modest, smooth appearance. The bodice is relaxed fit for freedom of movement, comfort and a less form-fitting appearance. The shoulders and arm holes work with the built in bra to reduce unattractive bulge at the arm holes, remain very supportive and provide comfort at the top of the shoulders.
The built-in, suspended bra is made from high-compression Forza fabric assembled with Microlock stitching. The flat-lock Microlock stitching has the same stretch characteristics as the fabric for great fit, feel and appearance in each sport. The Forza Top is perfect for swimming when worn under a wetsuit and can be used in the swim without a wetsuit but the slightly more relaxed cut won’t perform as well alone in the swim as a one-piece trisuit like De Soto Sports’ Forza Tri Suit for women.
When we asked women on the Beginnertriathlete.com forum about using a built-in bra opinions were mixed. Frequent forum contributor and experienced endurance athlete “KathyG” said, “Many women prefer no type of support in their tri top and prefer to select their own [separate] support bra.” This trend became more common above C cup sizes. The Forza fabric sports bra built into the Forza Tri Top will solve this problem for some users because of its compression properties. We did notice athletes we asked who had been in triathlons longer trended toward all-in-one solutions such as the Forza Tri Top instead of a seperate sports bra and top.
Tracy De Soto’s contributions to the design and construction of the Forza Tri Short and Top have added a woman’s perspective to fit, form and function to De Soto Sports’ women’s apparel. These are designs for the middle 80% of female athletes across sizes from Extra Small to Large. For women who have had problems deciding what to wear on race day this apparel line offers strong solutions. There are also two different one-piece trisuits in the De Soto Forza line for women, another great race day option across all size runs.
The women who tested and commented on De Soto Sports’ new designs in the Forza line spanned a range of body types, not just the photo shoot types you see here. Each of them found the designs to be functional and credible. De Soto’s new designs for 2012 bring a level of performance to the average and entry level triathlete that didn’t exist before Tracy De Soto’s input. It’s likely female triathletes across all size ranges will thank her for that.