Born in Sydney, raised in Melbourne and living in London for the last five years, Verity Copland is part of the very talented Product team at Rapha Racing Ltd. An elegant bike rider and natural in front of a camera lens, she kindly invited us into her apartment in Gospel Oak, northwest London, to find out a little more about her, and also photograph some of the latest Women’s City products.
Your apartment is a beautiful modernist space. How did you end up there?
Right next to Imperial Works [Rapha head office] there is a brilliant modernist council estate – Maiden Lane – which had intrigued me for a while. When my partner and I were looking for a new place to live we discovered an estate that was designed by the same architects – Benson and Forsyth. We luckily managed to rent an apartment with all the original fittings and furnishings. Our landlady used to work for Benson and Forsyth, in fact, so we occasionally have neighbours knocking on our door to take pictures as reference for their own apartments. People come and inspect our shelves quite regularly.
It’s certainly a beautiful part of London.
Yes, we’re lucky to be across the road from Hampstead Heath, and we’re spoiled in this area with lots of open, green space and even natural swimming ponds, but I also love that just around the corner you can be faced with bustling streets and even grimy takeaway shops – that mix is what I love about London. There are also plenty of good coffee shops like Ginger and White where we went on the shoot and the slightly crazier east London, where I used to live, is only a short hop away by bike or train.
Is it a part of London known for its modernist architecture?
There are some amazing modernist buildings in places like Camden.
In the 1970s, the council commissioned architects to design a series of ‘modern’ council estates. I guess they were referencing some of the real pioneering modernist buildings that were built in the area in the 1930s, like the Isokon building and 2 Willow Road [home of Ernő Goldfinger, the architect who designed Trellick Tower, in Notting Hill, and whom Ian Fleming named his James Bond character after].
There’s some nice ephemera inside your place.
Most of the bits have some kind of story – there are paintings and drawings of my family in some of the shots, and ceramic pots I’ve made. I’ve taken quite a liking to pottery lately. Again, making things is just something I love doing.
In the background of one shot, there’s a photo of me that was taken on a Rapha City shoot in Barcelona, back when I had buckets of curly hair. I’m much more aero now.
At Rapha, you work to bring products to life. Have you always been interested in clothing and product design?
Yeah, I’ve always liked making things, not necessarily clothing, just anything that might be useful to someone. It’s also just brilliant to see an idea become a real tangible thing. I studied Fashion Design in Melbourne, and it was pretty early on that I decided I wanted to work in sportswear, all because of that interest in making things that solved problems. Some forms of fashion feel more like decoration; sportswear is, I guess, one of the most technically demanding kinds of clothing design and engineering. Everything has to be functionally perfect as well as beautiful, that’s a great challenge.
What products have you particularly enjoyed working on?
When we first signed as clothing sponsor with Team Sky there was a lot of excitement in the Product team. Not only did it back the kit we were already producing, but it meant we had the opportunity to collaborate on new and technically progressive products. Watching from the crowd on the Champs-Élysées as Froome took the Tour in 2013, wearing kit I’d worked on was a brilliant thing.
How about cycling. What’s your history with that?
Up until recently I’ve only been a commuter but working at Rapha, I’ve done a lot more things on a bike, and with bikes, too. At Rapha HQ there’s a mechanic’s area, and last summer we built up my Bob Jackson, which I now ride all the time. Having lots of generous (and bike-crazy) colleagues meant it was pieced together over a few weeks from new and pre-loved components.
Since then we’ve toured around the Alps and the Pyrenees – Bob’s even taken me up Mont Ventoux, so there’s lots of love there.
You rode Manchester to London last year. Did you get a real sense of glory through suffering?
Well, perhaps not glory through suffering, more like ‘glory with a tailwind’. It was just a great day out riding, through picturesque British countryside, with a brilliant bunch of friends, and all for a great cause. It just happened to be 356km long. But I’d recommend the next one, on 6th September, to anyone.
Any major journeying plans this summer?
I don’t want to mention my exact plans, because then I’ll actually have to follow through with them (I’ve been caught out with that before). I’m hoping to do a little lightweight touring across Europe. With as much camping under the stars, kips in the shade of trees and campfires on beaches as possible.
Why did you leave the sun and serenity of Melbourne?
I guess I wanted an adventure. Australia is certainly more isolated, the market is smaller, and there’s just more going on here in terms of my work. I definitely didn’t come to London for the weather, but that’s actually been rather lovely recently. It would be nice to live between both London and Melbourne, but it’s a bit far…
- Inside Seam (Leg Length)