A few months ago Rapha announced the first of a two-season collaboration with the iconic London department store Liberty – Rapha+Liberty. When I first found out about the collection, I was thrilled, as in many ways it showcases the growth of road cycling over recent years beyond the racecourse, and into contemporary culture.
My favourite piece is the Two Tone Bomber. The merino-blend body and a double-bonded windproof fabric keeps you well insulated on cooler days, and is great to throw on under a jacket for casual rides around town.
Other standouts in the collection included the merino sweatshirt, which like most of Rapha’s city collection shows great attention to detail, with reflective cuffs and a rear zip pocket for valuables. Finally the Leggings offer familiar Rapha comfort, with the print adding a welcome departure from black, all while remaining versatile.
The print was selected from Liberty of London’s design archives, which holds more than 40,000 unique prints dating back to the late 1880s, with the chosen print dating back to the early 1930s. The choice couldn’t be more apt, as it was in the 30s that cycling really became a leisure sport.
Perhaps my favourite thing about Rapha’s choice to collaborate with Liberty, is the department stores own history with cycling. From 1910-1927, founder Arthur Liberty used to host a cycling tournament for his female staff on the grounds of his estate. Despite popular belief at the time, that women who rode bikes would experience unsightly changes to their faces (Bike Face).
While Liberty – a valuable resource for designers – has previously collaborated with brands like Nike, Adidas, and Hershel, this collaboration marks their first for sportswear. Alex Valdman, Rapha’s head of product design, thinks the pairing with Liberty “speaks to the beauty and style of road cycling and its appeal to increasingly more people” and we couldn’t agree more.