My relationship with Rapha is one of love and hate. I love Rapha for what they are. The pure passion for the sport of riding a bike. Their simplicity, subtlety and focus. And never settling for second best, no matter what. Hate because of the power they have in making me want part with my hard earned cash to buy more of their products.
I was given a gift voucher from work mates for my birthday. I added £25 to the voucher and all I could get was a gilet (I got the white one shown here). A gilet that cost £75. My bike only cost £400! But it's no ordinary gilet. I have to admit their clothing is awesome. Made from fabric that lasts, looks stylish and makes me want to ride more. And in this weather climate, anything that gets me on the bike more often is worth its weight in gold. Or platinum in Rapha's case.
It's one of those brands that make their own rules. Aspirational and boundary pushing but not aggressive or in your face with huge logos and brand statements everywhere. They're dedicated to the art and grace of bike riding and everything else is secondary. They're the type of brand that could I afford to, I would only wear their clothing. Their photography is breathtaking (including product photography) and makes me revisit their site almost daily just so I can dream about climbing the roads they have. Their images really do speak a thousand words.
Reading the stories allows me to feel like I'm sitting in the slipstream on one of their rides, hearing my lungs bursting for more air and legs aching with lactic acid. (Read the stories here.)
So, in all honesty, I don't hate them, I guess I just need to earn more or work harder. If I was a brand, I'd want to be Rapha.