First Look at Rapha Women’s Line

I can’t wait to get back to Portland to get my hands on this stuff but, in the meantime, Rapha has finally released some images of their new women’s line.

They started with the basics (a very good place to start) – classic jersey, jacket, shorts.

As a bib-wearing mama, I’ll be waiting for the strappy version of the bottoms, but I feel like this stuff looks solid. Classic, elegant, simple.

We’ve all talked about the importance of fit, so I’ll hold the rest of my judgement until we’ve been able to gather more intel in that department.


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  1. love it. simple, classic and NOT pink (but would expect nothing less). digging the armwarmers that come with the jersey too. signed up to be notified when ready to ship. will def be in my rotation

  2. I’m excited, but still scared off by the price.

    I know, I know, I’ve heard from everyone I know that the jacket is the bees-knees, but I know that the pricetag is going to be well above my comfort level. I’ve tried the boy’s merino baselayer, yes, it’s wonderful and I don’t ever want to take it off, but still… I tend to destroy things, even tough quality things, and I’d hate to be the one that puts that to the test.

    I need to see it first hand, try it on, wait for reviews of it being used.

    • You and me both, Gnat.
      I actually have a mathematical formula that I use for calculating the relative worth/value of apparel. I’ll blog about it tomorrow – been meaning to anyway.

  3. Also, the early Rapha guys stuff had pink, why can’t I have that option? :-)

    (I know, I know, I’m like the ONLY ONE)

  4. I agree: classic, simple, and thus it will come down to how well the pieces fit.

    But, that being said, it seems a little…boring. True that it’s smart to start with the basics, but I wish there were a little more jazz going on.


  6. I hear you. But Rapha isn’t really known for “jazz”, ya know? They’re known for classic and simple.
    And epic-ness, of course ; )

  7. True! I suppose I’ll wear Rapha when I’m in the classic mood, and wear a yet un-created brand for jazzy days…

  8. I think I fall into that bin of people that just doesn’t get Rapha. I know they make some nice stuff, classic look, functional and wears pretty well from what I understand.

    What I don’t understand is the price, and why they shoot all of their action shots helmet-less. Are those 300 bib shorts going to protect my skull?

  9. There is definitely a “getting it or not getting it” factor to Rapha.

  10. (And I’m not saying either is better than the other, just that the line seems pretty clear between the two.)

  11. Really hard to tell from the one picture. Can’t really say a think yet.

  12. More photos than the three that are here if you follow the link to the Rapha site.

  13. I’m beyond “Doesn’t get Rapha.” Here is my opinion, which has been embittered by years of watching Rapha gouge people who value the name over anything else, but: it is poorly designed, poorly constructed, and eye-poppingly overpriced.

    As a guy, I suppose I won’t comment on the women’s styles. But I can hazard a guess that we’d *never* sell that jersey in our Cleveland bike shop.

    That jersey and shorts will cost you over FOUR HUNDRED dollars US, plus shipping.

  14. What Rapha is attempting to do is very difficult, and I don’t see a five-year delay as a very big one at all.

    One thought is that the models Rapha is using on their site to advertise women-specific clothing don’t have curves (i.e. body fat). And what curves they do have are not hugged well by the clothing they’re modeling (specifically the stowaway). That is potentially both a pattern construction and a marketing problem. What they might have done is have an additional model, with curves, wearing the items. If the line is for extremely fit, lithe riders, why wouldn’t they just wear the men’s line? Seriously.

    For example, there appears to be more tugging on these relatively flat-chested models wearing women’s stowaways than I have wearing a men’s stowaway over my big sisters. What happens when busty women wear these women’s stowaways? Comparison shots – comparison testing – would be good. As far as the jersey, the flary-hip thing that is done do to make clothing “women-specific” is redundant unless you are petite and very curvy. It seems like it is very subtle on the women’s jersey, which is good. The “bell bottom” effect on a jersey is really bad, and nixes so much of women’s specific cycling clothing for me. Finally, the shorts have a special woman-specific chamois. Right. But where are the photos of this chamois? Why is this women’s specific chamois better than all the other woman-specific chamoix out there?

    I remain unimpressed by the price. The exchange rate is nearly doubly prohibitive. You can get a women’s wool Swobo jersey for under $100, and they fit well and come in an all-black colorway. Likewise, I find that Sheebeest’s high-end shorts work well, and they are usually $90-100. Both companies are based in the USA. When so many Americans are unemployed right now, why play with the idea of spending twice as much money on something from one country made in yet another country when it can be had for less than half the price from an American dealer? Rapha is not a USA company.

    (PS Heidi, I hope Rapha is paying you for this, or at least giving you the FREE SH*****T.)

  15. Ha! Caroline. Rapha is decidedly NOT paying me for this, nor giving me free shit. I take issue with the suggestion since this post neither offers outright praise for the products nor condones them. It offers a look at them and mentions that they “appear solid”. I’ve not seen this stuff in person so I’m not saying anything definitive here. Certainly I’m not gushing. I’m excited about the line. I’m excited to see something new in the women’s market.

    I’m not sure I agree that all your sizing observations can be made based on photographs alone, and there are several images of the jersey on a busty girl that look just fine. But, as I said, I’m with-holding judgement until I get to see (and try on) the stuff for myself. I am neither lithe nor busty, so I guess we’ll see how it works for the in-between later.

    Also, I didn’t love SheBeest’s shorts (yes, high end ones) that I have tried, proving only that opinions vary.

    That said, the price is high. Rapha has been forthcoming about who their target market is. “Budget” is not their thing. Neither is “affordable”. They’re making it expensive on purpose. Whether that business model works for them will remain to be seen. So far, they appear to be making a go of it, but who knows what’s really going on behind the curtain. Only time will tell.

  16. Gnat: I feel your pink pain!
    I thought of you when I saw its absence. : )
    By the way, you take pink to a whole new realm of awesomeness. Must be the hair.

  17. Gnat,

    I think Chris needs to use his connections to get you a Stowaway for testing…

  18. I like the women’s line (and most of the rest of their products), visually. I won’t spend the money, unless my income increases substantially. Looking forward to hearing first-hand reports on the fit and quality.

  19. Caroline – also meant to add that I agree 100% about Swobo. I really love their stuff and the wool base layer I’ve had for three years remains one of my favorite pieces of cycling clothing (and has held up really well). I also think Ibex is a nice alternative at least in the bottoms department (I’ve no experience with the fit of the tops) – I live in their knickers during the winter.

  20. Does anyone know where the Rapha stuff is being made nowadays? I couldn’t figure it out from the Web site. Perhaps I missed it. I’m willing to pay top price for quality merchandise as long as I know it’s not made in a sweatshop run by greedy bosses who are enjoying an insanely fat profit margin.

  21. I’m pretty sure it’s all made in London.

    I own a bunch of Rapha stuff, thanks to the ebay search I have running for “rapha” that gets most of the pieces at half price. I can say after riding in the stuff for over two years that it is very high quality well-built stuff. I’ve crashed many times in cross and haven’t ripped a bib or jersey yet. The stuff is comfortable from the coldest Oregon winters to the hottest summers (the stuff has taught me to love wool year round).

    Hands down, the best piece in their entire line for men or women is that stowaway jacket. Now, the price is insane I’ll give you that, but it’s the most versatile and well fitting jacket I own, adding the perfect top layer from about 40F-65F. It cuts out the wind, packs down small enough for a jersey pocket if you get too hot and weighs almost nothing so I can ride with it unzipped up to maybe 70F. It will work in a light rain and keep you dry enough to get home warm.

    I bought mine off ebay for about $150 and it’s worked through two seasons flawlessly.

  22. Au contraire, mon frère, little of the Rapha stuff is made in the UK or the EU. More like: China, Vietnam…

    It’s certainly easy to get those ideas when the Rapha website says nothing about where fabrics are sourced from or sewn up.

  23. Caroline is correct, Rapha garments are made in England, Europe and in Asia. We hope to find the best makers for all our pieces, wherever they may be.

    Glad some are excited that we are finally making Rapha for women. We are quite excited- we’ve spent the past year working, testing, fitting and refitting to make pieces that fit most women. Caroline, I am happy to report is not most women- I’ve seen that gold lamme bikini Ms P.

    There are great options out there- we just believe that there are plenty of cyclists who would rather not wear flowers or Asian motifs when they ride.

  24. Its very lacklustre looking stuff but with a huge pricetag… I stopped buying their gear when they started making it in china etc… must cost less than $10 to make. I switched to Shutt VR in the UK. They are 100% British made, and they’ve been doing womens kit for years, not just now like rapha they have fleeced all the guys and need new suckers…

    • Paula,
      I took a look at Shutt. Do they do a women’s short/bib or do you just wear the mens. I didn’t see one on their site.

  25. I mailed them and they are coming out with a full women’s range of bibs and tights next month… cant wait!

    They are the kits sponsors to so the kit is all race tested

  26. Thanks for the info – I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more information on their upcoming women’s products!

  27. Fixie Girl

    It looks like Assos rip offs without the cycling pedigree , I’d love to know what they make in Britain now… a sock :)

    • You really think it looks like Assos?
      I like Assos quality as much as the next snob, but I don’t think this stuff looks like it at all.
      I also thought Assos’ latest line was super disappointing aesthetically. Both mens and womens.
      Their ads right now with the weird looking fellow throwing his leg over a bike aren’t helping. I’d like to know who the creative director on that shoot was.

  28. Hi Fixie Girl/snarkypants – It could be an SS13 if you took away the arm stripe. But without the stripe it could be any jersey. There is no personality to it like Rapha of old. I feel that the womens range is a bit of an afterthought, tick in the box.

    I just wish i had assos girls figure :(

  29. Rapha’s photography again is sublime. Current company excepted :)

    I wondered what your take on the lack of ‘bib’ on those shorts would be.

  30. As to where it’s all made my most recent purchases have all been far east sourced, which concerns me a bit.

  31. Fixie Girl

    Chris – I know, I went and looked at my stuff and the only piece i have thats made in the EU/UK is one hat, the rest is Asian! :(

  32. Despite common confusion caused by my name, I’m a guy. I’ve been riding Rapha for a few years now having switched over from Assos (found their quality of design to be on the decline for a while and their materials to be a bit too… I don’t know, dense? heavy? I want to say tired, but that won’t make a lot of sense!).

    I can honestly say that there are very few items of Rapha that I own that have not lived up to the price in terms of quality of construction, durability and design. I happen to like the classic look – I’d rather not look like a day-glo billboard and getting kitted up in Astana or Quickstep is just beyond pretentious as far as I’m concerned!

    I can understand that some may see the price as a barrier. I couldn’t care if the item does the job, looks good and lasts I’ll pay the asking.

    For me, Rapha meets or exceeds it’s aims better than anything else I’ve ever ridden in.

  33. been using the rapha stuff for about three years now and have been nothing but pleased…. the bibs are way better than assos current offerings(and “cheaper”!). ive beat up pretty good on a couple of jerseys to the point of seams bursting on pockets… sent them up north and they were repaired quickly and solidly at no cost. only gripe would be that i wish theyd make the pockets deeper, a minor complaint though….

    i like the womens line, nice and simple. nice to see that everything bike related doesnt have to be gaudy/loud/ugly!!!!!

    now if only it were a bit cheaper…..


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