Remade in England
Rapha’s lead product designer, Graeme Raeburn, has been working with his brother, Christopher Raeburn, to produce a special edition capsule collection for city cyclists. Christopher Raeburn heads up his own design studio in the UK which is famed for using repurposed fabrics and handcrafted construction. All hand made in England, the collaboration is focused on quality and functionality.
The collection consists of a lightweight merino henley, a cycle ready jean and the wind jacket that I’ve been lucky enough to test. In this collaboration Rapha and Raeburn went all out to make a packable, light and highly reflective jacket – in other words something perfect for the city cyclist – and it is certainly striking! The jacket is remade from a British issue parachute canopy. These nylon canopies are coloured orange, green and white which enables pilots to either camouflage themselves or signal from the ground. The parachutes have been deconstructed, cut and reworked to produce the jackets making features of the original seams. Reflective tape is added as part of the print which provides added functionality for the city cyclist.
The jacket in use
I’ve worn this jacket both on my daily commute and on longer rides on my road bike at weekends and I have to say it is ideally suited to both duties. For something so thin and lightweight it really does keep the wind and cold out effectively. Part of this effectiveness is down to the very close fitting cuffs which are made from wear-resistant Lycra. The jacket is ideal for cold early morning starts and will protect well enough in sudden showers – in short it’s pretty much perfect for riding in the changeable climate of the UK.
The jacket packs up small enough to keep it permanently in your rucksack without losing valuable space ensuring you always have a layer for when the weather changes, but doesn’t feel like a typical stowaway wind layer – which in my experience feels a bit like wearing a bin bag. No, this is a hand made, unique and exceptional high quality item and as you’d expect such quality and exclusivity comes at a cost – £300 to be precise. Now that’s a lot of money for a wind jacket, but you won’t find anything to compare this too on the market, after all how many repurposed parachute jackets have you ever seen?
The fit of the jacket is just tailored enough to not flap about on the bike, but not so much that it feels like wearing race gear on the commute. The fit for me is about perfect on and off the bike (I wear a medium for reference). It has the typical long-cut back for good coverage on the bike.
The jacket has 2 discreet side pockets with easy to use hoop pulls that are perfect for a phone or your tube pass. In use these are perfectly positioned for the contents to not interfere with your riding in anyway.
The Rapha & Raeburn wind jacket also has a stowaway hood. This can be rolled up and secured via a strap and popper when not in use – which for me is most of the time. In fact the only time I can imagine using it is off the bike if I am caught in an unexpected downpour, but even then it seems a little superfluous.
As mentioned, the jacket is certainly not to everyone’s taste from a styling and colouring point of view, but the fact that it’s so striking makes it the ideal jacket to stand out on the increasingly busy city roads. The large polka dot pattern is very reflective and pops out at the slightest exposure to a car headlight. There is a Rapha & Raeburn numbered panel on the rear of the jacket with an individual “race number” which is also reflective. All in all this is a jacket which stands out – whether this is for the right reasons depends on your individual view point, but for me it stands out in a positive way (but then I also own an orange bike….)
More information and where to buy
Rapha recently posted a typically stylish video and some images of the jacket’s production on their blog, if you like Rapha’s style as I do it’s worth a few minutes of your time. You can find it on the Rapha website.
The Rapha & Raeburn Wind Jacket, which is a very limited edition (just 600 will be made – 300 available in white, 200 in green and 100 in orange) is individually numbered has just launched and be available directly from Rapha for £300.
4/5 – Exclusive and effective, but very expensive
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.