When Rapha initially launched back in 2004, most other road cycling kits looked like they copied cereal box graphics, and many cyclists would mine thrift stores for ancient, wool Faema espresso jerseys from the 1960s. Thankfully, along came the London-based brand, with its elan for decidedly subtle style and carefully tailored sportswear. Ever since, brands and designers (from the athletic realm to the auto industry) have hat-tipped the label for its brilliant reimagining of a category.
Owning older Rapha pieces has become a sign of authenticity for cyclists, but also is testament to the brand’s long-lasting quality. They famously used Merino wool before that was common—for a better hand and drape, and its odor-resisting properties. At first, some riders complained about the premium pricing, but soon realized the quality has been stellar. Plus, Rapha has repaired over 34,000 pieces of their own clothing; standing by their mission to make apparel that’s far from disposable.
While Rapha perfected their cycling style, they steadfastly avoided mountain biking apparel. And as brands like Mission Workshop, Kitsbow and Endura expanded the category, Rapha seemed to sit idly. That is, until now.
The brand launches their MTB category with summer-focused wear that includes shorts, jerseys, jackets, helmets (made in collaboration with Smith), sunglasses and bags. Their now-classic Merino wool garments aren’t here yet, but are planned for the near-future—along with a broader line-up.