For a British company focused on quality and innovation, finding the right designers, developers and manufacturers is key. Since the start of the 1980s, UK manufacturing has dropped from 30 to 10 per cent of GDP while much of the expertise has fallen by the wayside. So sourcing and producing textiles at home is something to be nurtured.
Brothers Graeme and Christopher Raeburn are two of the UK’s leading clothing designers; Graeme is product designer at Rapha, while Christopher heads up his own eponymous label. Rapha & Raeburn marks the latest collaboration between them and the result is a new collection of products all made in England, designed for city cyclists.
The brothers’ formative years were spent exploring the Kent countryside by bike, making ‘survival packs’ out of shoeboxes. Graduating to the Air Cadets, they also learned to man helicopters and polish boots. “You were shown all these amazingly functional things,” recalls Graeme, “uniforms and rucksacks, as well as machinery.” It proved an influential experience, one that eventually led Graeme to design functional clothing and accessories in a fashion context.
“When other kids were saving up for computer games, we were saving up for a Bergen rucksack,” says Christopher, who followed in his older brother’s footsteps, first to art school, then on to London’s prestigious RCA. “Our Dad was a very creative, hands-on person,” Christopher adds. “The unwritten rule was that if we could draw something during the week, particularly with measurements, Dad would help us make it at the weekend.” Little wonder, then, that both brothers share a love of practical design and attention to detail. As Graeme explains: “When we design, we always consider what the person will be doing, what environment they’re moving through.”