Andrew Todd collaborated with Rapha in designing the recently released Gentleman’s Caps and also the latest paisley pattern for the Silk Scarf. I talked to him about these idiosyncratic creations and what it was like working with Rapha.
Todd, where did the initial idea for your cap designs come from?
My objective was to take something classic and push it a little further with technology and function, whilst also maintaining a subtle overview. I’d previously seen the Paul Smith x Rapha tweed-style caps, and wanted to see how I could move with a similar concept.
I like the strong theme of British tailoring coming through. Obviously with the Barbour-inspired waxed cotton cap and the hunting design, plus the dandyism of the polka style, they all hint at the heritage brands that seem to have had a resurgence recently, such as Burberry and Aquascutum. Was this something you were conscious of?
It’s great that these companies are able to continue what they set out to do, though Burberry and Aquascutum have drifted into higher fashion. I’m more a fan of the smaller traditional companies such as Barbour, Gloverall, and Brady bags.
When I began designing the caps I looked at a number of classic items. Whether or not they were ‘in fashion’ wasn’t relevant. I looked at handmade shoes and hats, handkerchiefs, ties, classic workwear and functional accessories.
I always wanted a wax cycling hat and couldn’t believe their wasn’t a modern version on the market. It had to resemble the classic jacket though, right down to the mesh eyelets and corduroy. I think the two other styles are pushing the cycling cap even further. Caps you could get married in!
Cycling caps almost seem like a blank canvas for designers because they are simply constructed and usually quite a basic shape.
Like the T-shirt, a cycling cap is a simple shape that can be modified with so many prints and logos. However, it’s nice to go beyond that and actually change the textiles or even the shape.
That way you can create designs for every occasion. For example you could design a much more high tech cap with the latest future fabrics for hardcore rides, or you could design one made of possum fur if that’s your thing!
How do you view urban cycling clothing at the moment?
When it’s made by people who love cycling for like-minded people then it’s great. When it’s a big company wanting to jump on the next trend and have no element of functionality then it’s not worth bothering with. I prefer those who concentrate everything on cycling and performance. If they can do that whilst adding a sense of style then they have my vote.
What was the design process like, how was working with the Rapha design/product team?
It really was a pleasure. On my second visit I returned with a sketchbook full of ideas. I think deciding on three caps was the hardest part.
The Rapha design and production team is very professional. They know what they want when they see it. I had a good amount of freedom and was able to source all the textiles myself to which they would match, and I also made the first sample of the wax cap by hand. They didn’t restrict me in the slightest which was wonderful. It meant I could make suggestions for brass badges and mesh eyelets and trust them to source the perfect ones.
The Paisley print took a little longer than the caps. It began as a loose paisley and developed into something very decorative. I’d like to say a big thanks to Graeme (Raeburn) for pushing me with that. So when my bit was over, the production team got stuck in and I believe there were a few interesting samples.
It has to be absolutely perfect with Rapha! Materials were found to keep these caps as modern as possible. A great result. I think we’ve created a few timeless classics.