Brothers Graeme and Christopher Raeburn come together for a Cycling collection produced by Rapha. Christopher heading up his own successful label and older sibling Graeme, a product designer for Rapha, the two were perfectly placed to create practical, functional bike-wear with an eye on sharp design. Much hard work and research later, Spring Summer 2013 is about to launch. Three limited edition pieces in total, on offer a merino wool henley, Italian denim and a beautiful wind jacket available in three colours, manufactured by the Private White V.C. factory. From anti-bacterial fabrics to high-viz jeans – we ask the brothers Raeburn to give us a little insight into the ideas behind the range and the process of building this family project. Read more after the jump and head to the gallery for a look at this special collection.
A Rapha/Christopher Raeburn collaboration seems like a perfect match, has it been on the cards for a while?
GR – The project came from a feature in O Magazine on Chris’s work, which also mentioned my role at Rapha. It was picked up by a lot of people, and prompted some discussions on the idea of working together. There’s always been feeling to explore local production sources at Rapha, and Chris has a lot of experience in this area, so it seemed a natural partnership
CR – Graeme has always been something of a pathfinder (I mean in our adult lives as well as his older brother role when we were younger) and it’s been fascinating watching Rapha grow so quickly over the last few years while he’s been working there; when the opportunity came up to work together following the article Graeme mentioned it was really a great opportunity to work together and push the aesthetics and design philosophy’s we’d both developed since leaving the Royal College of Art.
Is this the first time you’ve worked together on a project?
GR – Having studied the same courses and now working in similar fields, we’ve always worked together over the years to some degree or another. It’s fantastic to be working on a distinctive collection with him.
CR – Yes as Graeme mentioned we’ve always helped one another (especially when we were doing shows at university) but also we’ve done a few experimental projects over the years – one of my favourite projects was a capsule collection produced from German snow ponchos that was exhibited at the Imperial War Museum’s “Camouflage” exhibition – it was that project that was a trigger for me starting the company and showing at London Fashion Week.
Can you tell us a little about the ideas behind the collection?
GR – It continues a tradition at Rapha of working with creative talent from outside the immediate field of cycling on collections for city-riding. Cycling in town involves a complex balance of so many of elements – fabric, fit, style, function – in some cases more so than the racing and training. By collaborating we can utilize other areas of expertise and create products that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Chris was influential in terms of style and local production, and Rapha was able to bring the technical and functional aspect.
The parachutes have always featured in Chris’s work, for a couple of reasons – one of which is we have a photo of our Grandmother during WWII getting married in a wedding dress made from silk reclaimed from an aviator’s parachute.
CR – I think it’s important to add how much attention was put into the fabric choices and quality of each of the pieces – we’re really proud of the outcome.
The centrepiece of the line is the impressive limited edition windproof jacket, can you talk us through this piece?
GR – It’s a hybrid piece which utilizes a lightweight City Windjacket from our SS’12 collection, combined with Chris’s signature style, ‘Remade in England’ and utilizing military surplus parachute fabric. We worked together to ensure it’s functional on-bike, but with a touch of flair. Each garment was individually cut, and numbered with a reflective race-number on the rear (no. 13 is stitched upside down, a tradition among cyclists to avert any bad luck!).
CR – My favourite features on the windproof Jacket are the reflective detailing seen on the tape but also on the hand silk screen printed spots across the shoulders and hood of the garment; the other great thing is that the jacket packs away into it’s pocket meaning you can easily store it or chuck it in your rucksack for later.
Working with the Private White V.C. factory allowed you to make such a complex jacket, what were the specific skills and processes required?
Laying and cutting a used surplus parachute, which has bias-cut, multi-coloured panels is about as technical as you can get to make a new garment. We spoke to Mike Stoll at [the factory], and he wasn’t put off by the plan. It would have been impossible to achieve without his support and being able to visit the factory and working through challenges with their technical team.
The collection contains lots of really interesting functional details, anti bacterial fabric, reflective binding…which really stand out for you?
GR - The reflective spot print is dazzling under car-headlights – it’s incredible!
CR - I talked a little about the jacket earlier but the jeans are really strong as well. Again they have some nice surprises including internally printed reflective that’s revealed when they’re turned up for cycling.
The jeans have to withstand a lot of specific wear, what are some of the important points with this pair?
GR – We spent a couple of years developing the denim with a technical Italian mill that would be up to the very particular demands of cycling. It needed to be colour-fast and not fade in the seat area, have a touch of stretch, be quick drying, and of course be durable. We then designed the jeans to have the functional details needed by a cyclist – high-viz and reflective trim, low-profile reinforcement rivets, pockets designed for keys and a D-lock.
Christopher, with this collection being specifically for cyclists, how did your design process design differ from creating your mainline?
CR – I work a lot with functional fabrics in my own collection but it certainly has a much more fashion edge, the focus with the Rapha / Raeburn project was to perfect the fit and technical side of the garments whilst also bringing something new to Rapha. I cycle every day so I hope I’ve been able to adapt some of my own experience into the products but of course to have Graeme’s insights has been invaluable.
Do you see this being an ongoing project?
GR – It’s certainly been a healthy relationship so far, lookout for a different direction for AW’13.
CR – I think we really wanted to keep Spring / Summer small and make sure the products we’re really special; now that we’ve really learnt how to work together there’s certainly an opportunity to develop even more pieces for the future.