By Simon Smythe
The Rapha Cycling Club was founded in 2015 “to connect cyclists around the world and bring them closer to Rapha,” in the British brand’s words. But, says Rapha, the community at its heart has much deeper roots.
According to Rapha, long before the signature stripes of the RCC were to be seen in cities around the world there was another club based in London but with an Italian soul. Taking its name from Rapha’s original offices inside an old piano factory, Imperial Works was an invitation-only members’ club. What’s more, “Their luxurious livery was the envy of other cyclists.”
Rapha has recreated the black, purple and gold of the original gruppo sportivo in an exclusive collection that, like the original, is available only to RCC members.
Imperial Works Track Jacket £180/$250
Inspired by jackets worn by racers during cycling’s golden era and made with 100% merino wool, the Track Jacket features a chain-stitched G.S Imperial recalling a bygone era.
There's a contrast lining for added insulation to the jacket which, with the two integrated hand pockets, is aimed at keeping you warm in cooler conditions. Design elements also include the hallmark Rapha armband and striped ribbed trims on the collar, arm cuffs and hem.
Imperial Works Classic Bib Shorts £170/$235
This limited edition version of Rapha's Classic Bib Shorts (which also cost £170) is made with a soft Lycra fabric for all-day comfort and now incorporates recycled materials.
The uppers are constructed from a lightweight mesh, with a central cut out on the back to further aid temperature regulation. The Classic chamois pad comprises several layers of quick-drying foam with a sweat-wicking, antibacterial top sheet for comfort on all-day rides. There are updated low-profile silicone leg grippers, while new reflective piping on the side panels improves on-bike visibility.
Imperial Works Tricolour Jersey £140/$190
Rapha calls this "a classic tricolour jersey (£140) in the distinctive black, purple and gold of G.S. Imperial."
Made with Rapha Performance Merino (RPM150), which incorporates recycles fibres, the jersey also features an embroidered treble clef on the pocket as a nod to Rapha’s original offices inside an old piano factory.
The full-length Super Lampo zip ensures ventilation in warmer weather while the knitted rib trims at the collar, cuffs and hem add a final flourish.
The Imperial Works Collection, available from Rapha's website consists of: Men’s & Women’s Classic Bib Shorts, Men’s & Women’s Tricolour Jersey, Jersey, Track Jacket, Merino Base Layer, Socks and Cap.
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