Liberty, one of London’s most famous department stores, will have an expected turnover in 2015 of 145 million pounds, up from 132 million pounds for 2014 — a positive sign that the grand old shop isn’t slowing down, despite it’s age.
With an established reputation for apparel of a quality that rivals the fashion houses of Paris, Liberty recently made a well-coiffed foray into athletic wear by way of a stylish collaboration with Rapha, which included two matching bicycles by Tom Donhou.
The store, founded in 1875 by Arthur Lazenby Liberty, with a £2,000 loan from his future father-in-law, is located on Regent Street and quickly became known for vestments decorated with Eastern motifs. Today, the Liberty design archive houses over 40,000 prints, with new creations added every year.
Liberty’s relationship with cycling dates back to the store’s early years, when sports days were held for its staff. Details were unearthed during the research for the Rapha partnership of a half-mile race held for female staff, including the silver cup awarded by Arthur Liberty to the annual winner.
The cup has found its way onto the bikes built by Tom Donhou for the project — a laser-cut image of it is brazed onto the back of the race bike’s seat tube. The real feature, however, is the Liberty design, which Tom has painted himself all over the frame — an incredibly painstaking process.
The pearl blue base was applied to the Columbus HSS and Spirit-tubed frame, over which a vinyl mask of dots was laid, ‘stitched’ together with latex. It was then ‘de-masked’ and the black candy was laid down, creating the deep fade over the dots, which run all the way to the seat tube.
The geometry is designed for the female body and, built up with a Dura-Ace groupset and an ENVE finishing kit, is certainly a pedigreed race bike. But if the pace is too fast, Tom has also created an elegant belt-driven townie with the same livery — and both are available to order via Donhou Bicycles.
Read more about the Rapha + Liberty collection on the Rapha website.