After a successful cooperation with the classic graphics catalog of fashion house and famous London department store Liberty last year, Rapha has come back for 2016 with a new pattern and new premier women’s kit in their pro team Souplesse lineup. This new blue and green pattern was picked out for its bold style eliciting a feeling of movement, while at the same time maintaining a geometric pattern that was uniform and worked well with the curves and cut of a cycling jersey.
This year’s look out of Liberty’s 40,000 pattern archive comes from the 1970s. Originally printed on a simple fashion scarf, Rapha and Liberty worked together for quite a while to tweak it so that it could make the transition to the jersey, and specifically so that it would still look good while dealing with interaction at seams and with stretch.
The key element of the new Rapha+Liberty collection is a limited edition Souplesse jersey.
Like the last edition this one keeps all of the performance and fit of the standard pro team-level Souplesse jersey, with a Liberty update. The 150€/£125/$185 jersey is the top of Rapha’s women’s line and again includes reflective elements throughout the Liberty print.
Apparently Rapha isn’t stuck on keeping the Liberty pint visible, as they even continue it inside with a couple of other Souplesse pieces.
A special edition Liberty pair of Souplesse bib shorts pair with the jersey. The 225€/£175/$270 bibs get the Liberty print just on the bib straps which won’t get seen, but do carry all of the renowned performance and top-end coldblack treated fabric and chamois of the standard Souplesse bibs (which are 15€/£5/$10 cheaper.) On the bike the only difference will be the color-matched Rapha+Liberty reflective logo on the thighs.
Another piece that gets full coverage with the Liberty print is one you likely will appreciate but not see much of. The 50€/£45/$70 Souplesse baselayer uses the same polyester mesh as the men’s Pro Team version that does an excellent job of moving moisture away from the skin during intense efforts. It dries fast and is said to be designed to overlap and fit comfortably with the Souplesse bibs, and of note a new cycling bra which isn’t currently in the Rapha catalog, but likely is on the way soon.
The last bits of the Liberty collection are a couple of small but still pricy accessories. The 40€/£35/$55 Liberty cap is a basic design with a treated cotton body and polyester inner tape. The 100% silk Liberty scarf is another premium item at 70€/£60/$85. While we would normally balk at spending so much on a scarf that seems more fashion at first glance, we’ve come to appreciate the performance – breathability when it’s hot, insulation when cold, and wind-blocking in between – of a similar one from Superleggero that is actually even more expensive.
Any way we look at it the Rapha+Liberty collaboration does a pretty solid job of giving a bit of fashion design to their otherwise high performing line. Adding Liberty prints to their premium Souplesse kit seems to have worked out for Rapha, and we expect to see the partnership to continue to offer something a bit different. And for more on the fabulous Donhou Bike built specific for the collection.