Rapha is one of those companies that people tend to either love, or love to hate. Essentially a manufacturer of high-end cycling clothing, but also a magazine publisher, racing sponsor, event organiser, bicycle design collaborator, and general "lifestyle brand," Rapha promotes an unapologetically romantic vision of roadcycling via an endless output of dreamy images as part of its advertising and social media campaigns. Slender, beautifully backlit cyclists suffer exquisitely as they scale mountains - often in black and white, and often to the accompaniment of haunting music, fostering a sense of nostalgia for a time that is not yet in the past. The garments offered are minimalist and expensive. That is Rapha in a nutshell.
excellent parody, you know it's reached iconic status. I also have nothing against brands that are considered luxury or high end, if the quality of their products reflects the price. So what's my problem with Rapha? It's not so much a problem, as a genuine feeling of dissonance - at least when it comes to the women's line. When I encounter their clothing in person, what's in front of me does not match the image cultivated by the impressive adverts.
Women's Stowaway Jacket. Last summer I was desperate for a cycling rain jacket after my old windbreaker came apart. I wanted the jacket to be form-fitting, waterproof, and, ideally, red. Having exhausted the less pricey alternatives, I followed up on a suggestion to try Rapha. The Stowaway happened to be on sale at the Ride Studio Cafe at the time, and I came prepared to buy it. I tried on the jacket. It wasn't bad. I mean, not horrendous. Basically, it looked like a tracksuit top circa 1982 - something you'd expect to see on, say, an East German gymnast of that era. It's an intriguing look if you can pull that sort of thing off, but not especially flattering. The shade of red also strikes me as uninspired: not an exciting bright red and not a classic vintagey-brick either, but a dated crimson that I do not readily associate with cycling.
Classic Women's Jersey - which I had considered when looking for wool cycling clothing: The styling in itself is all right, except that the full-length zipper creates artificial "tummy folds," as is common with this type of jersey.
not the only one to have noted this), that the arm warmers seem to be one size smaller than the jersey - rendering them essentially useless for those whose arms are not stick-thin. Too bad, because including matching arm warmers is a wonderful idea.