Kostüme's women’s bib shorts are some of the best women’s cycling shorts I’ve ever worn. They are not only comfortable but also made by a brand that brings art into cycling gear - in a sustainable fashion.
Kostüme women’s bib short - Technical details
This pair of Kostüme women’s bib shorts are part of the brand's first-ever #EDIT001 collection, which is "a 7-piece collection of innovative cycling apparel for men and women, featuring recycled fabrics and exclusive artwork by Kai & Sunny."
Kostüme is a Bristol-based, relatively new boutique cycling apparel brand, and its ethos is to produce pieces that combine performance, comfort and utility with exclusive artist collaborations and obsessive attention to detail. The brand's products are made from recycled materials and available to pre-order only, meaning they are released in strictly limited edition batches known as edits - for example, the first edit of these bibs consists of 350 pairs.
With that sustainability in mind, these bib shorts have been made with OEKO-TEX® certified ECONYL® regenerated Nylon main fabric, with UV protection.
The chamois on these bibs is four-layered and features memory foam and a 'permanent' aloe infusion for comfort. The high-stretch, recycled straps allow a hassle-free toilet break, and Kostume has made them perforated for quick drying.
The waist of the shorts comes slightly higher than the front, and the straps at the back are connected in a racer-back style.
The legs of the shorts are raw cut, with printed grippers inside, allowing what Kostume says is a “sausage-free” fit. The few seams on these bibs are mainly flatlock, to avoid chafing.
The brand logo on the side is reflective to aid night safety and the pair is available in six sizes ranging from XXS to XL.
Kostüme women’s bib short - Performance
Bibs are perhaps the most difficult, but also the most important cycling garment to get right in your cycling wardrobe. Finding a pair that is snug but not restricting, comfortable but not too loose, and for us women, also allows some sort of easy-pee-feature, can seem like a bib-short utopia. I think Kostume has got pretty close to making that utopia a reality with the women’s bibs.
I’ve been riding in these bibs for a couple of months now, and they have quickly become my favourite during that time - both off and on road. And I can see this being a pair that will last for a long time because, despite the bushes I've ridden through in them, they have come out flawless from every ride and wash.
The first thing that impressed me was the leg grippers, or more specifically, the lack of them. These bibs have a very smooth, raw cut hem to them and inside, a grippy but not sticky printed gripper. They effectively keep the legs where you want them to be, without pressing into the thighs, and like Kostume promises, without creating any sausages. And even after multi-hour rides, there were no gripper marks on my thighs. The legs are also a great length, not too short, not too long.
And talking about lack of something, these bibs also have very minimal seams. I’ve not really had issues with seams on bib shorts (apart from noticing the pressure marks they leave after an all-day ride) but since I’ve experienced the seamless design of these, I now feel a sting of disappointment with my “normal” bibs. Combined with the overall soft feel of the materials on these bibs, the seamless design is both very flattering but also comfortable in a way I've not really experienced with other cycling bib shorts.
From the first ride to the many more I clocked in with this pair, the chamois has remained extremely comfortable. The not-too-wide pad has minimal contouring to it, and I would say it moulds to your bum shape and doesn't need adjusting during a ride. Perhaps it's the memory foam that creates this level of comfort - it is like sitting on a wee memory foam pillow - but the chamois has really impressed me.
Like many bib shorts nowadays, Kostüme has designed these bibs to be pee-break friendly. There are no zips, buckles or buttons, but the function is enabled by the stretchy straps. The feature is rather foolproof - it works as it's meant to, but it is not necessarily my favourite. The straps feel slightly loose from the get-go, and I can see them getting stretched more over time. Then again, if they were any tighter, they would make pulling down the bibs harder (and I've tested pairs that have that, and the last thing you want is to rip the seams when having a pee...).
Because the overall design of the bibs is great, including a high enough waist, they stay up without the help of the straps, so their looseness doesn't really matter. The straps were really the only thing I was doubtful about in this pair. They are also the part that really showcases the artists behind this collection, with the rather colourful design. But I quite like that the straps are still inside your jersey, so wearing the bibs with non-Kostüme jerseys has not felt like a clash of styles.
Fit-wise, I was testing size XS and Kostüme indicates that the sizing is flexible depending on your preferred fit. I could've probably been okay in an S, but I prefer a snug fit so the XS was a perfect size for me.
It also deserves a mention that I like the ethos of the brand making these bibs. Kostüme has created a way to drastically cut waste by offering these limited editions of clothing, and I wish it would be more common for cycling apparel brands to include environmental impact in their decision-making in the way Kostüme has done.
Kostüme women’s bib short - Verdict
It would be easy to say these bibs are perfect in every aspect - but as much a great product they are, they do come with a price that will be unaffordable to some. A pair of Kostume women’s bibs set you back £180. This nearing the upper end of the premium bib short offerings. Rapha Detachable Bib shorts are more at £215 and similarly, Assos Uma GTV bib shorts C2 cost £210. Comfort and quality-wise, I would say Kostume is identical or better, as they produce only small batches where quality control is easier.
But then, talking about other options that offer similar properties but for less money. Endura Women’s Pro SL Bibshorts retail for £130, but offer quality, comfort and a drop seat design for less money.
Overall, I think Kostüme has nailed its first edition bib shorts. The quality of this pair is exquisite, and on par with the long-running, established brands. The price is high, but then again, if you want to support a more environment-conscious cycling brand, it's unlikely you find better value options out there.