When there’s a will – with Robyn Lynch – there’s a way. To call the Irish-born designer driven is an understatement. She created her AW19 and SS20 collections in the spare room of her family home back in Malahide. Her now-signature Aran knits were hand-dyed on the kitchen table and she had to trek far and wide to grasp the resources she needed (the shop she relied on didn’t even sell menswear zips). Lynch doesn’t need an army behind her to tackle obstacles, still to this day she works mostly as a one-man-band. Yet when the fashion cycle came to an abrupt halt as the world went into lockdown, even Lynch was worried.
Like many of her contemporaries, the designer relies on producing a full collection each season to not only the next one, but to put food on the table. With factories closed and fabric shops shuttered, the possibility of creating a new collection was virtually impossible. Luckily, Lynch was already in talks with cycling specialists Rapha about working on a project together. “I have been a long term fan of their brand so when I saw associate creative director Ger Tierney had shared one of my posts on Instagram, I jumped on the opportunity and asked her to go for a coffee (well before the lockdown of course) and it just kind of started from there,” she explains. “Cycling clothing has been a point of reference for me as early as my MA collection and I am such a fan of their design and technicality. The pattern cutting to allow the form and posture for cycling is something I am so interested in.”
The meeting of the two brands birthed a twelve-piece capsule collection created from deadstock and returned Rapha garments and surplus fabrics leftover from Lynch’s previous collections. “To be honest I thought I might have run out of something once I had started draping a piece as I was using all pre-existing materials. However, I was actually shocked by how much I had of everything in my flat,” says the designer. “I didn’t run out of any threads or finishings such as eyelets or elastic shock cords. I had an abundance of everything which is actually a real reflection on how much I have over-purchased in the past with production and sampling.”
Artwork by Joe Cruz
Working in the confines of her home studio in Hackney, Lynch did what she does best: chopping, slicing and re-piecing technical fabrics into splendid hybrids. Think of her as Dr. Frankenstein, if he was armed with nylon. Stone grey Aran knits are spliced into Rapha windbreakers which are flipped and twisted to craft that slouched silhouette which has become Lynch’s go-to. More excess knits bulldoze into shredded jackets to make technical sweaters, or are used to create detachable bibs over Rapha lycra shirts. The most important element to a cyclist’s uniform – the skin-tight, lycra shorts – peak beneath more loose-fitting additions in ladish cuts.
“[The collection] was a great way to do a mental inventory of just how much unnecessary materials are built up over time. I will think twice again before purchasing more fabrics in the future. I need to use up everything first,” explains Lynch. “It’s funny because I almost feel like I became more creative when I had a list of restrictions in front of me, such as ‘okay I have only one side seam zip pocket in this jacket so I need to place it in such a great position’. I really thought about the placement and I had to get even creative with the pattern cutting as I was trying to use up every last scrap of the lycra tops to make some leggings. It’s quite thrilling to try to make it all fit together like a jigsaw.”
Lynch worked entirely in isolation, connecting with the Rapha team over Zoom throughout the project as well as communicating digitally with Joe Cruz, who created accompanying artwork using scans of the designer’s mood board as well pictures of the collection’s line sheet which were taken by stylist Ben Schofield. Each piece is one-of-one, so you better be quick. This collection is set to sell out fast. Shay Elliott style.
The Robyn Lynch supported by Rapha capsule collection is available to purchase now.