Launched in 2004, the Classic Jersey was the first-ever Rapha jersey. Originally called the Sportwool™ Jersey, it was like nothing else at the time. All black with a white stripe on the arm and cut from a strange, light wool fabric, its minimalism concealed a beautifully functional garment. One reporter declared it the “best bike jersey the world has ever seen”. To mark the launch of the new Classic Jersey II, we spoke to Rapha founder and CEO, Simon Mottram, to find out about the origins of the design.
What was the brief for the first jersey? The ultimate in performance and style, with no compromise on either. It always struck me that very little design or care had gone into cycling jerseys. They were made of very basic polyester, with little thought to the needs of an active rider. And yet, when riding for long distances, often over challenging terrain, the jersey needs to do a lot for you. It needs to fit well, with no scratching, pulling or irritation, and it needs to carry everything you might need on your ride. It’s a vital piece of equipment. A lot of attention had been given to bib shorts and chamois pads, but no one seemed to care about the design of cycling jerseys. It was a natural and most pressing place to start.