In 2017, a 10-year-old button-down cycle jersey in racing green was listed on eBay. The price? £10,000. The shirt was the product of Paul Smith’s first-ever collaboration with British cyclewear brand Rapha, designed to commemorate the 2007 Tour de France depart from London. Over the years, the two brands have partnered on multiple collaborations, and Smith supported the 2009 Rapha Condor Sharp racing team. This month, another collecting opportunity for velo enthusiasts and fashion-conscious cyclists alike is here, as Paul Smith and Rapha revive their relationship to produce a capsule collection, available for purchase on Paulsmith.com from Wednesday May 29.
This time round, the collection was born from a speculative question: what would the kit of a cycling team sponsored by Smith in the heyday of cycle racing (eg, late ’70s to early ’80s) have looked like…? Smith – a lifelong fan of the sport – took inspiration from his personal collection of cycling memorabilia, which he began at the age of 10 with cycle magazines and into which he has, over 60-odd years, incorporated bikes, clothing and ephemera from street markets across Italy and France (it is now part of his office collection in Covent Garden, and in 2016 it was curated into a book published by Thames & Hudson).
The jazzy six-piece result includes a deep-navy short-sleeve base layer (£50), men’s jersey (£145) and bib shorts (£200), each adorned with Smith’s trademark multicoloured stripes. An extended range in forest green is available exclusively to members of Rapha cycling club (£135 for a 12-month membership).