I received a lovely piece of direct mail yesterday. And it’s not often that those words pass my lips (or my fingers).
Here’s a picture of it. It’s from one of my favourite brands - Rapha - which makes fantastic, top quality cycling clothing. So it’s a bit of a niche thing. But I’m into my niches.
Rapha’s very much an aspirational brand for me (I’m into my cycling at the moment, too). In fact, it’s completely aspirational as I don’t own a single piece of Rapha kit! It’s quite pricey…but you just know it’s going to be worth the money. I spoke to a bloke once who’d tried on one of Rapha’s jackets. He said that on the peg it all looked a little odd – long arms and back, zip off centre – but when you put it on and sat on a bike it was just perfect. Then his eyes glazed over. It’s that sort of stuff.
Is this sounding a bit sad?
It’s just that Rapha hits so many spots with me that I can’t think of another brand with which I have the same sort of relationship. I can remember quite vividly the first time I read about the company – an article in Management Today a few years back. I visit the company’s website and drool regularly. And now I’ve got a lovely little A5 booklet I can tuck under my pillow.
Everything about the brand is understated. The clothing itself, obviously (none of your day-glo lycra here) but everything else reflects that too. The website’s great. It captures the passion that some of us (and I’m by no means as bad as it gets) have for cycling with some fantastic editorial content and images. The DM piece is exactly the same (as you’d expect). The first 18 of its 31 pages contain some brilliant photos and an article written by Tim Krabbe, a Dutch novelist well-known in cycling circles for his classic book The Rider. Only then are a few of the products presented. Cool. It even smells great.
The fella who founded Rapha, Simon Mottram, used to be a brand consultant, so you might expect him to get it right. But he’s also a fanatical cyclist, which I think is just as important. Honestly, I’m racking my brain and I can’t think of another brand that’s so compelling. Well, to me, at least. It’s obviously an individual thing based on personality and passions – I’d love to know if anyone else has a similar relationship with any other brands?
Anyway, if anyone’s wondering what to get me for Christmas…