Unrivaled in their field, Rapha never misses an opportunity to impress with impeccably crafted, aesthetically superior soft goods designed for the city dwelling cycling enthusiast. As long time supporters of the UK-based brand, we were excited to learn about their upcoming spring collection, created in collaboration with fashion designer and fellow Brit, Christopher Raeburn. Every collaboration Rapha embarks upon is worth a few words, but this collection is particularly interesting both in garment construction and backstory. Rapha's lead product designer is Graeme Raeburn, older brother to the more well known Christopher. The brothers Raeburn hunkered down over the long winter to design the three-piece Rapha & Raeburn capsule collection, which features a packable wind jacket, lightweight merino henley and cycle ready jeans—all made in England.
As anyone with siblings knows, working with family can sometimes be easier said than done. However Christopher was quick to reassure us there was no sibling rivalry when it came time to design. "This project has been a genuine pleasure," said Christopher. "Graeme has long been an inspiration and we’ve always worked together in different ways." While both brands are technical in approach, they do have different aesthetic sensibilities, and the brothers' respect for each other seems to have helped pull the collection together. "A lifetime of being alongside each other means we can work efficiently, often making decisions without the need for regular discussion. I always learn from Chris so I pay attention and contribute, rather than trying to compete," followed up Graeme.
While the jeans and henley are both treasured pieces, the true spirit of the collaboration comes to life in the collection's centerpiece, the hooded wind jacket. Painstakingly constructed by hand using defunct British-issue parachutes—in signature Christopher Raeburn fashion—with individual reflective race numbers on the back, each lightweight nylon jacket is entirely unique. The 600 pieces take their distinct colors from the canopies they're made from, but are also useful in purpose. The orange, white and green colorway was originally intended to enable pilots to either camouflage or signal for help from the ground, now it's paired with reflective polka dots to increase the visibility of city cyclists.
"Authenticity can be an overused word but I think it’s right to say that we were really looking for this project to be a true collaboration—the technical expertise of Rapha and the experimental fashion edge of Christopher Raeburn. And securing UK manufacturing was a big part of this," explained Christopher. As the most difficult and time consuming part of the creation process, Graeme and Christopher enlisted the help of England's most celebrated outerwear factory, Cooper & Strollbrand—which may sound familiar if you've kept up with our Private White V.C. coverage. The family-run Manchester factory has been instrumental in keeping the Rapha & Raeburn collection a domestic product. "We’ve always had a rich history in garment manufacturing in England, so it was important to get out and find the best of what’s still left to make sure the garments were made to the highest possible spec," continued Christopher.
Also limited to 600 pieces, the short sleeve henley is made of naturally anti-bacterial 100% merino wool. Offset shoulder seams and a rear pocket make it an ideal piece for a casual city stroll. An evolution of an already proven Rapha product, the jeans are milled in Italy and constructed in England, with just 500 pairs produced. Cycling-conscious details include deep pockets, a high-rise back and low-cut waist, offset seams and a reflective print on the inner right leg.
Launching soon, the extremely limited Rapha & Raeburn 2013 spring collection will be available from Rapha. The hooded wind jacket will sell for $450, with 300 available in white, 200 in green and 100 in orange. The short sleeve henley (300 gray, 300 navy) will go for $190 and the charcoal jeans will sell for $275.
Hooded wind jacket details by Graham Hiemstra, all others courtesy of Rapha