Inspired by a retro 1970s print, the second and last Rapha + Liberty collaboration collection has been released, and adorns the cycle brand's Souplesse performance collection.
The line between sportswear and fashion has become increasingly blurred in recent years, with many big brands such as Adidas working with designers like Stella McCartney to inject style into products. In 2015, Rapha followed suit with an exclusive two-season collaboration with Liberty of London.
The new spring/summer 2016 range brings this collaboration to a close, with a selection of performance kit featuring a print from one of the 40,000 Liberty patterns from its extensive archive.
If you're wondering about how the connection arose, then it's worth knowing that Liberty of London has cycling pedigree. The historic department store ran the Liberty Challenge Cup, a cycle race for female staff members, which ran from 1901 to 1921.
According to Rapha, the new pattern selected was chosen for 'its bold style' and 'to convey movement', with the colours part of that – deep blue, green and cream/white. The range consists of jersey, shorts and base layer, plus silk scarf and cap.
- Rapha + Liberty Souplesse Jersey £125.00 / $185.00 / AU$220
- Rapha + Liberty Silk Scarf £60.00 / $85.00 / AU$100
- Rapha + Liberty Cap £35.00 / $55.00 / AU$65
- Rapha + liberty Souplesse Bib Shorts £175.00 / $270.00 / AU$325
- Rapha + Liberty Women's Souplesse Baselayer £45.00 / $70 / AU$85
As with the previous range, frame builder Tom Donhou has custom painted one of his rides in a pattern inspired by the new Rapha + Liberty print. It will be on display at the Rapha Cycle Club in Soho, and should you wish to you'll be able to buy one directly from Donhou Bicycles – meaning you can coordinate everything from your bike to your cap.
The range has been launched with an exclusive interview with Canyon//SRAM team rider Tiffany Cromwell. Rapha is the official kit providers to the Canyon//SRAM UCI Pro women's road cycling team, and the striking kit they created has been turning heads in the peloton and beyond.
Rapha has also created a 40km ride route around London, inspired by the silk trade, taking in key sights linked to London's silk trade of which Liberty's was a major part. The route takes in, as you'd expect, both Liberty and the Rapha Cycle Club in Spitalfields, as well as Merton Abbey Mills in West London - a former Liberty-owned silk print-works, and Spital Square in Central London, home to the most prestigious silk merchants in the 17th and 18th Centuries.