I’d been wanting to try out and review the new activewear brand Alala for a while now, and had been spending weeks obsessing over their site since I first discovered them through a feature on Refinery29. They finally had a little sale event, so I jumped on the opportunity and got a couple things to try out. Their spring/summer ’14 line is the brand’s first collection–they only launched in February, a mere 4 months ago! The brand’s goal is fashionable luxury activewear that is both functional and stylish enough to be worn for workouts as well as casually. This is right up my alley (duh!), as is their general downtown NYC aesthetic. Plus, I love trying new brands and supporting up-and-comers (not to mention, who doesn’t like wearing something cool that nobody else has?).
[Update: for more recent Alala reviews, including the updated version of both of these styles, check here!]
I ordered the take sides knee tight in inkblot and the flyweight tee in black, both in size XS. My order came in a custom branded poly mailer, wrapped in custom branded tissue paper, and a handwritten note to boot. +1 for thoughtful packaging!
Starting with the flyweight tee. As the name suggests, this was a very lightweight pullover. It’s made of Tactel, a nylon blend that’s described as being much softer and more lightweight than other fibers. It was indeed both of those, I loved the feel. (Sidebar: dog hair stuck to it more than I anticipated–it didn’t just brush right off.) The ultra light weight is perfect for summer layering.
Some features… The gold tips on the hood drawstring (and the little gold rings at the openings for the drawstring) are a nice accent (although they’re a matte gold, not shiny). The mesh panels are my favorite part: they add interest and flair to an otherwise plain black pullover. Fierce, amirite? The thumbholes were great, too: sometimes I find thumbholes to be tight, bulky, or uncomfortable, but these were none of those and were quite generous. I also really liked that I could scrunch the sleeves up–most pullovers have cuffs that are too tight to do this, but it’s a look I like so it’s nice to have the option.
As for sizing, I’m only 5’3″ but I was surprised by how petite the fit was through the torso as well as through the arms–if you wear an XS and are much taller than me, it probably wouldn’t work (I expect larger sizes are longer so I can’t speak for those). It was also a little loose on me, but frankly I was expecting this because I’m very small and usually need an XXS. I wouldn’t have minded the relaxed fit if it was a bit longer, and I wouldn’t have minded the length if it was a bit tighter, but the combination of both a tad short and a tad loose was just a bit off for me, especially because of the way it flares out just a touch below the waist (you can see this in the lower set of photos).
I was really close to keeping this one, but for the cost, I needed it to be perfect instead of almost perfect, so I reluctantly decided to return (if I had kept it, I probably would’ve looked into having it taken in slightly by a tailor).
Flyweight tee measurements, XS:
Bust (pit-to-pit): 15.5″
Length (from back of neck to hem): 20″
Sleeve (pit to hem): 18″
Next, the take sides knee tight. These come in inkblot (what I got) and all black and have mesh panels that wrap around above the knees. They’re made of a slick, friction resistant nylon fabric similar to lululemon’s luxtreme. The fabric was part of what got me to order it–I like lighter weight fabrics like this especially in the summer months. The fit was spot on, the compression was nice, and when I did a few air squats they did not budge at all.
As for features: there is a waistband key pocket in the front as well as a zip pocket in the back, both lined with sturdy mesh. They have a triangle gusset, which was black. The hems are angled to minimize bunching at the back of the knee. Also, I like the little gold logo they sewed onto the crops (and the tee above), which I think is a really appealing way to brand their goods.
The big issue: they’re white. I was hoping the pattern would be enough of a distraction to the eye, but frankly, I spend too much time in a deep squat to be worrying about the color of my undies (not to mention, I am one of the pickiest people around when it comes to sheerness). Being able to see color through them is not surprising, though: luxtreme-type fabrics like this tend to be thinner and therefore more prone to opacity problems. So, I knew I was pushing my luck, but I was still super bummed when they didn’t work, because I really liked them!
I thought for a while about exchanging them for the all black version, but I have a lot of black crops and decided right now it’s more important for me to save my pennies. I’m hoping these (or a similar crop) come out in more colorways!
Take sides knee tight measurements, XS:
Thigh (at top of the leg opening): 8″
Again, I was really disappointed that I ended up returning my order because I really liked the style, and both pieces were so close to working but just barely missed the mark for me. I will definitely be watching their site and trying again when something else pops up that catches my eye.
Now for the fun part: if you are interested in giving Alala a try for yourself, it just so happens they’re having a drawing for a $150 gift card! The contest ends tomorrow, so hurry! Click through the photo below to enter.
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