Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.
Look amongst the top cycle clothing brands and most offer a custom clothing program. The market for such tailored kits has boomed in recent years while demand for big-brand catalogue kits has dwindled.
Rapha has dabbled with a few custom kits and collaborations over the years, but public access to such a service was never available. That changes with Rapha’s newest product, simply named Custom. With minimum orders starting from five pieces, and the best online design tool we’ve seen yet, the British company is clearly making a big push into the custom kits market.
Customise in real-time
- What: Rapha’s custom clothing program.
- Minimum order: Five pieces.
- Lead time: Eight weeks
- Pricing: Scales based on quantities, see below
- Lines available: Pro Team and Classic, Core coming later.
Rapha’s interactive online design tool isn’t the first in the industry — that title goes to Champion System — however, the British company’s take is the best we’ve seen to date. The design possibilities are staggering, it’s amazingly easy to use and your creation is pictured (super-imposed) on a model in real-time. Raphas claim to have spent over 18 months developing the new design tool.
There are eight basic layouts to begin with, and from there, every single design panel can be customised further.
Panels can be kept plain, or you can choose from eight categories of pattern types with between five to 12 individual patterns within each. And from there, you can adjust the rotation and scale of each decision, creating enormous scope for individualisation.
From there you have full control over the colours of every single element you’ve chosen. The website offers a staggering 377 pantones, with Rapha stating you can contact them if you need something not shown. At the moment, fluro colours are about the only thing not available, and even that is expected later in the year.
Logos and written text can then be added to your design. You can check out a 360º view of the whole design as you go. When you’re done, the design will display as a picture on a model (example up top).
Products, pricing and fitting
Rapha will offer select pieces from the Pro Team and Classic clothing ranges to begin, and the more-budget conscious Core range will follow in the near future. At this moment, it’s far from Rapha’s entire range on offer, although we suspect the products available for custom will continually grow. Custom socks, caps and jackets are currently missing from the range, but we’re told such items will be made available this year.
Prices start at Rapha’s regular retails, with large enough orders attracting a discount of up to 40%. Keep in mind you’ll need a minimum order of five pieces for each desired garment (using the identical design) to place an order, and you’ll need to order over 100 pieces to hit the maximum discount.
Where a number of custom clothing specialists offer (an often confusing) fitment tailoring service, Rapha’s Custom shares the same fit as its production clothing. Potential Custom buyers can also visit a clubhouse to attend a fit kit appointment or to get design advice.
Delivery time is quoted at eight weeks from when orders are placed and deposits are paid.
The interactive design tool is certainly a big part of the story here, and Rapha’s is certainly the most intuitive, customisable and generally classiest of its kind that we’ve seen to date. Using it is like looking into a crystal ball of where customisation tools are headed.
“We believe there is massive potential to grow the Custom market by making the design process easier and more accessible,” said a representative for Rapha.
As it stands, there are other custom clothing companies offering greater choice and more product lines at a reduced cost. However, it seems there’s plenty more to come from the British company and, certainly, they have the financial backing to see it through.