Author Topic: Pain and suffering in Camden Town - a visit to Rapha

Brian at thewashingmachinepost writes:

[click on 'interviews & features']
regular readers of thewashingmachinepost will have noticed that there is, perhaps, a preponderance (or even a plethora, if we're being really honest) of rapha clothing appearing with uncanny regularity in these pixels. bluntly put - we like rapha clothing. but it's not just because it's stylish, and it's certainly not because it costs a small fortune, but because rapha have managed to succeed, in a very short period of time, in creating a sub-culture within the world of road cycling...

one of their breathable stowaway jackets, while being particularly effective and very practical to stuff in a rear pocket, cost just under £200. is that justifiable? that's a question that can only be answered by the individual, but it has always seemed very strange that we will happily part with about £3500 for italian carbon fibre, then have a sharp intake of breath over the price of a garment that is constructed with the same degree of thought and passion.

For better or for worse, the purchase of Rapha must be justified: if not to your significant other with a certain degree of thought and passion, than to other cyclists, some of whom are more comfortable shopping at the used-washing-machine-parts-bicycle* rack than the polished Italian one.

There is something about apparel which sets cyclists at loggerheads, be it utilitarian safety hats or featherweight jackets which can only fit in a pocket emptied of several hundred pounds (breathable, or hyperventilating?). The sub-culture which the Camden company created has led to a Marxist clash regularly played out in cycling forums.

Every capitalist wants to have the Rapha touch

Foolish dandy** or pound-wise seeker of true value? Clothes make the man think about his clothes. Brian can have the last word here:

we all have our prejudices.


* Fanciful rather than factual illustration, but it works too well to give it the heave-ho just because Graeme Obree used the ball bearings of a washing machine due to their presumed superiority over the traditional variety rather than their Primark qualities. Speaking of justifications.

** With thanks to Joe Hall for dusting off 'quaintrelle', a fine sounding word which merits wider circulation.

*** How Rapha must be cleansed.