Rapha Performance Roadwear's new collaboration with tailor Timothy Everest, one of the leading practitioners of the New Bespoke Movement, isn't doing anything to help stop the brand lust I already have for the cyclewear company. I was recently invited by Slate Olsen, Rapha's General Manager for USA operations, to check it out at Signature Cycles' Manhattan showroom near West End Avenue, a trek I made because I know Rapha doesn't disappoint.
Timothy, who travels to New York nearly every six weeks for fitting appointments, was present to give me some details on the bespoke suit, which is the first piece to emerge from the twelve months of discussion with Rapha. The suit, he explained, draws on inspiration from both classic cycling imagery and more recent examples of urban cyclewear while maintaining Rapha's commitment to elegant functionality.
Available in three beautiful patterns, the ensemble consists of a button-down jacket, a vest and either plus-fours or full length trousers (with an integrated button to hold the rolled cuffs while riding). The real beauty of it lies in the jacket. Timothy designed the piece with the utmost attention to a rider's needs. The lower parts of the jacket can be fastened to the pockets so they don't flap about while pedaling. The buttons close high, keeping the fit snug when leaning over the bars. This high cut also allows for a continuous line when the collar is flipped and buttoned.
In the back, Timothy added extra fabric to key stress points around the the armpits and upper spine so there's plenty of room for the coat to expand when the wearer hunche over the handlebars. And, noting how exposed shirtsleeves can be an unintended consequence of cycling in a suit jacket, the coat sleeves are cuffed and can be turned down to make up for the extra arm length of a riding posture. Splashes of Rapha's signature pink highlight many of these details; a smart reveal when the jacket is transformed from office to road ready.
Naturally, the suit wouldn't make any sense in Rapha's collection if the rider suffered from dysfunctional fabric. To this end, Timothy developed a proprietary blend of wool for use on the suit, the fibers of which have been treated with a nanotechnology for incredible resistance to water. He demonstrated this several times by pouring water on the floor, the result of it running right of the coat.
The bespoke suit is available immediately for $3,500. Appointments can be made by emailing the atelier: bespoke [at] timothyeverest [dot] com [dot] uk. Oh, and for those whose wallets are a little slim this year, fret not; plans are in the works for an off-the-rack version of the jacket this fall.