Skincare products and cycling are not natural bedfellows. However, Rapha, the cycling brand which is happy to call itself the “most stylish brand in the business”, has just brought out its first ever skincare range.
It might seem a natural development for a business which diversified out of jerseys into lifestyle orientated products several years ago to move into the beauty market. The ability to take advantage of sizeable margins on a £7 bar of soap (approximately fourteen times more expensive than imperial leather) must be highly attractive.
However, the cycling community have not responded positively to the latest product development. Recent forays into compilation music albums might have been far removed from merino knitwear but the association made between these albums and grand tours generated a level of integrity. First reactions suggest that soap inspired by the olive groves of Mont Ventoux may not have the same level of credibility.
Rapha’s strategy may no longer place the cycling community to the fore. They may have decided to leverage their brand to become a lifestyle product originally conceived in cycling. In so doing they follow a much trodden path. For example Dunhill can legitimately claim to be a lifestyle brand that has manoeuvred away from its tobacco roots.
Such an evolution may entail risks and disaffect early followers. That having been said, if anyone is thinking of a stocking filler for me this Christmas, I would not be disappointed with a bar of Rapha soap (and if they could develop an anti-sweat sun cream (SPF40) for riding at altitude in the sun I would be really happy!).