For a British company focused on quality and innovation, finding the right designers, developers and manufacturers is key. Since the start of the 1980s, UK manufacturing has dropped from 30 to 10 per cent of while much of the expertise has fallen by the wayside. So sourcing and producing textiles at home is something to be nurtured.
Brothers Graeme and Christopher Raeburn are two of the UK’s leading clothing designers; Graeme is product designer at Rapha, while Christopher heads up his own eponymous label. Rapha & Raeburn marks the latest collaboration between them and the result is a new collection of products all made in England, designed for city cyclists.
The brothers’ formative years were spent exploring the Kent countryside by bike, making ‘survival packs’ out of shoeboxes. Graduating to the Air Cadets, they also learned to man helicopters and polish boots. “You were shown all these amazingly functional things,” recalls Graeme, “uniforms and rucksacks, as well as machinery.” It proved an influential experience, one that eventually led Graeme to design functional clothing and accessories in a fashion context.
“When other kids were saving up for computer games, we were saving up for a Bergen rucksack,” says Christopher, who followed in his older brother’s footsteps, first to art school, then on to London’s prestigious
The nature of the design and the material used means that every Rapha & Raeburn Hooded Wind Jacket is unique. Each has its own individual reflective race number on the back and, where possible, panels from the parachute canopies have been cut to include their original production numbers and issue dates.
Creating specialist pieces so rich in authenticity, inventiveness and craft is something Chris is understandably proud of. “That we’ve come full circle and had the opportunity to work together to make products to a very high standard here in England, it’s something I’m really excited about.”
Other products in the collection include a pair of Rapha & Raeburn Jeans, using the same performance denim as regular Rapha Jeans but constructed in Leicester. A Merino Henley, meanwhile, will be made at a factory in east London, but what all three products share is the functionality, style and attention to detail the brothers are known for. “It’s enabled both Rapha and Christopher Raeburn to create a collection that neither of us could have done without each other,” says Graeme.
To produce products of this quality and detail, in a country with a history of innovation and craft is an added bonus for both brands. “I don’t expect a resurgence in the glory days of British manufacturing,” explains Christopher, “but I feel you should do the right thing in the right place. We export a lot to Japan, Korea and China now and there’s a real love of things made in England. That’s something we should be very proud of.”
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