A Rapha Cycle Club in Manchester, a move from its Kentish Town base, and a special jersey commemorating the great Marco Pantani ten years after his death – those are just some of the things North London-based clothing brand Rapha has planned in 2014.
Brief details of all of those have been given in a New Year email penned by co-founder and CEO, Simon Mottram, in which he gives a taste of what to expect from the company in a 2014 that will also mark its final year sponsoring UCI Continental team, Rapha-Condor-JLT.
Rapha, of course, is a brand that divides cyclists, but with turnover estimated at £26.5 million in 2013 according to an interview former branding consultant Mottram gave with website The Business of Fashion last year, the company is a British success story that is clearly doing something right and that has big plans to grow further still.
For its many fans around the world, then – including, it transpired late last year, 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ulrich, who posted Rapha-style pictures of himself on his website wearing its kit, fooling some into believing there was an official ie-up – there’s plenty to look forward to this year. Here’s some of them.
Since opening its first pop-up Cycle Club in London’s Clerkenwell in 2010, Rapha has expanded the concept to five permanent locations – New York City, San Francisco, Sydney, Osaka, and a return to London, this time in Soho.
Manchester is one of four new locations that will open during 2014 as the brand expands round the world – the existing Rapha Cycle Clubs in Australia and Japan will be joined by new locations in, respectively, Melbourne and Tokyo, and there will also be the first one on the Continent, in Amsterdam.
As for Pantani, Mottram describes the Italian who in 1998 was the last man to do the Tour and Giro double as “a personal hero of mine in the 1990s,” but acknowledges that “his story is a parable of recent times and sums up the extreme highs and lows of road racing.” Besides the special edition jersey (pictured), Rapha says there will also be a memorial ride, with details of both to follow.
Founded by Mottram and Luke Scheybeler in March 2004 – coincidentally, the month after Pantani’s death – Rapha is set to leave its Kentish Town premises this year, heading for a new location in Kings Cross to accommodate its growing staff numbers and cater for its ongoing expansion. Like its predecessor, the new site will be called Imperial Works.
Other highlights of the year promised by Mottram include a new Kings of Pain range, more Team Sky cycling and fan products, and expansion of the Rapha City urban line for men and women.
There will also be limited edition jerseys paying tribute to Olympic medal-winning husband and wife (and father of Taylor) Davies Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney – sales of those will also benefit the Davies Phinney Foundation, set up to help sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease, of whom he is one.
In a second collaboration with Giro, come Rapha Climber’s Shoes, described as “perfect for long days in the mountains and gliding along hot roads in the summer.”
Away from clothing, there are also new developments on the Rapha Travel side of the business, including for the first time, Team Sky Race Access Tours, as well as a Corsica edition of the Cent Cols Challenge.
That island staged the Grand Départ of last year’s Tour de France, which this year begins in Yorkshire – Mottram’s home county – with the occasion marked by the Rapha Tempest four-day festival of cycling at Broughton Hall, the first edition of what is planned to be an annual event. There is also the return of the Women’s 100 after its debut last year.
You can find more details on all of the above in Mottram’s newsletter on the Rapha website, which also has links to further information where applicable.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.