It would be easy set low expectations for this collaborative rain jacket by clothier Rapha and designer Paul Smith. Purple and pink accents don't exactly smack of practicality, and there's nothing particularly novel about a rain jacket. Except, of course, when it's cut so well that it feels like it was sewn onto your body.
That's one half of the magic of the Rapha rain jacket: put it on and it seems to snap into place around your shoulders and your ribs, snug and slim with remarkable range of motion. Zipped into the 100% waterproof garment (which was tried and tested by this blogger in a New York hailstorm) you quickly notice that your arms move free of friction or restraint; in fact, you can windmill your arms and the waist won't so much as move. It has the immediate effect of ruining every other jacket you used to think fit.
But the Rapha rain jacket has a secret. A big, pink one.
Stowed away inside the rear panel is a discreet zipper that runs the length of the waist. Open it, and a big pink bib unfurls over your bottom -- complete with a Rapha/Paul Smith reflective logo.
As it turns out, this is a jacket for commuters. The pink bib is a kind of fender that stands between you and the wet, dirty bench or bicycle seat that would otherwise spoil your pants. It also serves as an impromptu visibility aid in dark or rainy weather, when pedestrians risk not being seen by cars (that also explains the neon cuffs, which are made of neoprene).
When the skies open up, use the pink bib as a dry seat -- and then roll it back up inside the jacket once you're done. You can zip up quite a mess inside that pocket; grit, mud, whatever pants-hazard you can find. The material is so impervious that all that grime simply dusts off once you shake it out, almost as if it were Teflon.
It's an ingenious garment, worth every dollar of its hefty retail price. And it's doubly worth it if you can pull off the all purple version.
Available at Rapha.com. Price: $400 USD.
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