Rapha’s first UK Clubhouse – which launched in 2012, a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus – has today reopened its doors having undergone a complete refurbishment. The Clubhouse will act as the ultimate Rapha experience and everything the brand has to offer: a community hub and place to meet like minded people, a trusted destination to get advice for your cycling journey or to find inspiration in stories past and present, or the gateway to discovering new roads.
Rapha’s flagship destination has relaunched at almost twice the size, offering a premium shopping experience for men and women, with a bigger product range, personal shopping and upgraded fitting rooms. It will also feature an experiential space to celebrate the culture of cycling, a larger café area for its riding community and a packed events and rides calendar.
Organised group rides will be rolling out every day of the week, from beginner’s laps to women’s rides to high tempo sessions, while annual events like the Compass Challenge and Women’s 100 give riders something special to look forward to throughout the year. As well as regular exhibitions celebrating all aspects of the sport, it will host events both online and in-person. From workshops to panel discussions, there will always be something going on to inform or inspire.
The upgraded café is the place where the community and new cyclists can meet, whether it’s to grab a coffee, watch a race or head out for a ride. Rapha partnered with Colonna coffee to create a house roast, La Palma, that provides the perfect pre-or post-ride caffeine hit, and the café will also offer an ever-changing roster of guest roasts from the best independent roasters in the UK. When restrictions lift further, visitors will be able tuck into sweet and savoury snacks and small meals.
The brand new exhibition space will host a series of exclusive exhibitions designed to give a deeper insight and celebrate the stories of cycling. Beginning with a retrospective of Rapha’s jerseys through the ages, Stitches in Time. No garment encapsulates the history of an entire sport quite like the cycling jersey. Chronicling their history through one piece of kit, Stitches in Time is a retrospective on the Rapha cycling jersey, from its humble launch in 2004 to the headline-grabbing Palace collaboration for last year’s Giro. A curated exploration of the archive, featuring highlights from team Sky to the longstanding relationship with Paul Smith, this free exhibition is a compact look back at the past seventeen years of British cycling. It will be followed by shows curated around themes of exploration and adventure, women’s cycling, diversity and equality and more.
The decision to expand during this uncertain time is a renewed commitment to the cyclists of London. Simon Mottram, Rapha Founder and CEO, explained: “While the news recently has been all about shops closing I’m really excited that Rapha is bucking the trend and expanding our London Clubhouse. Rapha was launched in London in 2004 and the Clubhouse in Soho was one of our first physical spaces, so it’s always been special for us. For many of our customers buying Rapha products is just part of their relationship with us.
“Rapha Clubhouses exist for them to find the products they want but also to help them get closer to the cycling community and closer to the sport itself. So it’s great that we will now have more space to host exhibitions and events and a better appointed cafe for London’s cyclists to enjoy, along with room to show our entire product range. Weekly rides will head out from the Clubhouse again – we are delighted to have them back after recent lock-downs! Our hope is that Brewer Street will become a home from home for experienced riders as well as offering a warm welcome to people who are considering cycling for the first time. The most satisfying thing about our growing business for me is that Rapha often plays a part in creating wonderful memories and friendships for our cycling community. I’m confident that the new London Clubhouse will help us to do that even more effectively.”
Though the retail sector has struggled during the pandemic, Caroline Crosswell, Rapha’s Chief Retail and Development Officer, believes there’s never been a better time to double down on bricks and mortar: “Although the traditional high street has been under threat for many years and particularly so in the last year, we are more confident than ever that the right kind of physical brand presence still has a powerful role to play in delighting customers and building long lasting brand relationships.
We have rarely chosen the easiest path and none more so than with our retail concept journey. We have strived to place community at the heart, confident that commerce would follow if we truly engaged with our customers. We knew that if we prioritised our passion for the sport and our community, we were ensuring that the Clubhouse would be a true home for our customers.
Investing in our location in the heart of Soho was an easy business decision to make and we are so proud of our newly expanded Clubhouse which will connect our founding RCC members with the newer cyclists who have fallen in love with the sport during the pandemic. We can’t wait to extend a warm welcome to all cyclists with a more inviting space than ever before.”