Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Rapha Raeburn wind jacket: things to do with parachutes

Who would have known that parachute silk would make the perfect cycling jacket material? Lightweight, inherently stashable and totally windproof. It makes sense when you think about it.

Something that didn't escape Christopher Raeburn, who is no stranger to parachute silk in creating his garments. This is a man who has built a brand from recycling military-grade clothing and equipment using cutting edge processes and adding a technical twist. Old parachutes have always been a favourite, inspired by a picture of his Gran getting married in a dress made from one in the Second World War. 

The collaboration with Rapha directly stems from Christopher's brother Graeme, who has designed Rapha's products from the outset. The only real surprise, given the obvious compatibility of the two brands and the fact that they are brothers, is that the collaboration has taken this long to come to fruition.

But it is here now, in the form of a capsule collection of three pieces - a pair of jeans, a henley T-shirt and the key item, a city windproof jacket. This is so limited in production that it is individually numbered and is available in only three colours, orange, white and green, dictated by the colours of military issue parachute canopies. Only 600 pieces have been produced: 300 white, 200 green and 100 orange. 

They are handmade in England at Cooper & Stollbrand's factory in Manchester, the manufacturer of the Private White VC brand, and as you would expect from individually numbered pieces (number 13 is stitched on upside down in cycling tradition to avoid bad luck), each one is unique, often bearing the original USAF serial numbers which offer a reference to the material's original purpose. As you would also expect, the jackets are exquisitely made, with industry-leading Swiss Riri zip fastenings, glove-friendly neoprene cuffs and a hood that rolls up neatly and secures behind a Rapha Raeburn branded snap-rivet. 

Mid-ride safety has also been incorporated, with high-viz reflective seam strips which give the rider a Tron-like glow and a reflective polka dot screen print to the sleeves offering a twist on a digital camouflage pattern. 

The one thing the jacket does not purport to be, however, is waterproof, although a quick Google search has uncovered forum posts from people who have successfully waterproofed parachute silk using proofing spray. 

How the Rapha Raeburn rain jacket would stand up to a squirt from Rapha reproofer is as yet undocumented but it would make what is destined to become a classic in cycling jacket design nothing short of perfection. 

It is close to that already.

People who read this post also read :

No comments:

Post a Comment