RCC + Paul Smith: Made for members

A limited collection, exclusive to the Rapha Cycling Club.

28 May 2019

Paul Smith and Rapha go way back. In 2004, Simon Mottram’s inspirations were An Intimate Portrait of the Tour De France by Philippe Brunel, reprinted as Kings of Pain, and the work of the British fashion designer.

For Sir Paul Smith, the starting point for this collection was simple.

“The inspiration is my friendship with Simon, and with Rapha, and my love of cycling. But also my love of stripes. I’m not embarrassed to say that I still love them. We’ve created these simple jerseys, very clean, with lovely colourful stripes.”

Angelo Trofa – the same designer behind Rapha’s peloton disrupting, monument-winning Team EF Education First cycling kit – set himself a challenge when he took on this project: If cycling’s Sir Paul had a racing team in the 1960s, what would the kit look like?

For this collection, Trofa took a classic colour, British racing green, Paul Smith’s iconic stripes, the RCC’s existing and instantly recognisable kit, and looked at them all through the lens of mid-century cycling design.

“The Rapha Cycling Club is one of the more recognisable club kits around the world,” says Trofa. “And Paul Smith’s stripes are iconic. It can be challenging to bring together two strong and established designs, but in this case the two went hand in hand. It meant I could have a lot of fun making something that would look at home in an old photograph but still hold up on the road today.”

It’s no wonder the two play well together given the long history between the brands. Rapha founder Simon Mottram had this to say:

“I sent a letter about twenty years ago saying I know that Paul’s a cycling fan and bike racing is a bit in the doldrums, and it’s really cheap – I think you should sponsor a professional cycling team. I didn’t get a reply at that point and I’m not surprised why,” Mottram laughs.

“I always used to wear Paul’s clothes, and still do,” Mottram adds. “There’s an aesthetic that I really liked, and with him being a cycling fan it bled into what he did, and it was a very comfortable friendship.”

But how did that friendship come about?

“Sixteen years ago I came to Paul with some designs for this thing called Rapha, and he very kindly gave me some time. He told me it was absolutely brilliant, that he’d love to get involved, but actually he was really quite busy,” Mottram and Smith share a laugh – old friends indeed.

“Paul told me he’d help you however he could, and true to his word he did and we’ve collaborated ever since.”

Smith adds, “Right from the beginning, Simon and I have enjoyed geeky conversations about finer details. I did a lot of work with Rapha from the start, and we share a lot of values – purity being one, and a love of everyday cycling.”

The RCC x Paul Smith collection mixes classic design with modern materials and methods. The bib shorts, for example, are the very same as those worn to victory at one of cycling’s biggest races of the year: the Tour of Flanders. While the wool bib shorts of yesteryear might look cool, they’re anything but. For Trofa, having a WorldTour worthy starting point was reassuring.

“Being able to build on our expert product team’s work means I can design knowing that the finished product will be worthy of any rider out there today. I’m no less proud seeing my designs on cafe rides as I am seeing them on the top step of podiums at the WorldTour.”

The collection includes more than just riding kit – there’s a t-shirt to round it off, so you can show your colours when you’re relaxing off the bike, adding to the finer details Smith is so fond of. Trofa says:

“The t-shirt was inspired by a vintage piece I found, a team-issue shirt that would have been worn by the soigneurs or mechanics. I wanted it to be just to be the kind of thing you’d see on race day, a comfortable uniform that complements the team’s kit.”

For the Love of the Club

Lionel Birnie of The Cycling Podcast recently chaired a conversation between Rapha founder Simon Mottram and iconic British fashion designer Paul Smith on their shared love of cycling clubs. Life-long fans of the sport, tune in to hear memories of time spent on two wheels, riding with others.

Ride Together

This collection is one of many exclusive RCC benefits - click below to find out more about the club