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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:06 pm 
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Choice is always there. The really dirty and hazardous jobs or those with super long hours will pay a premium. No one is forced to work.

To give you an idea, accoridng to Madcow's post re industry stats, a typical bike mechanic in the US makes $22K [Edit: That's the annual amount, so monthly less than $2000] while a typical Chinese factory worker in those carbon/textile factories make $400-500[Edit: Should be $400-500 a MONTH].

$500 is not much, but the gap is smaller than before.

PS: haven not used Rapha or have any association with them.

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Last edited by elviento on Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:06 pm 


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:21 pm 
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elviento wrote:
Choice is always there. The really dirty and hazardous jobs or those with super long hours will pay a premium. No one is forced to work.

To give you an idea, accoridng to Madcow's post re industry stats, a typical bike mechanic in the US makes $22K while a typical Chinese factory worker in those carbon/textile factories make $400-500.

$500 is not much, but the gap is smaller than before.

PS: haven not used Rapha or have any association with them.

Choice exists in our world. In china it's a rarer occurrence. While Rapha uses production facilities that are more in keeping with our western ideals, there are many areas in china where the freedom of choice you and I enjoy doesn't exist or rather if you try to exercise it you end up in prison.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:33 pm 
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If you are talking about political freedom, it's hard to disagree with you.

Regarding manufacturing jobs though, the truth is somewhere (right around half way I think) between Rapha's version and your version.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:51 pm 
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elviento wrote:
If you are talking about political freedom, it's hard to disagree with you.

Regarding manufacturing jobs though, the truth is somewhere (right around half way I think) between Rapha's version and your version.

No I disagree. China has both extremes. The Rapha one is unfirtunately in the minority, although I hope it is growing. The other end of the scale is a greater proportion, although with the Chinese state's secretive ways we can only guess. China is still a country that has vast areas that are not open to foreigners, so much us hidden. Just saying you think a union is a good idea can get you your own cell for life!

Political freedom & working freedom are inextricably linked.

My point was that comparing some rich college educated stockbrokers with Chinese textile workers is illogical. The former have already had a massive leg up on being born into a free society.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:05 pm 
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kgt wrote:
ultimobici wrote:
Rapha has done something that most companies either avoid or simply refuse to acknowledge.

Agree. No matter how naive Rapha's marketing sometimes is they deserve credit for this. At least we, as customers, have some clearer information.


Just keep in mind that it was them to put it out there. It's not some unbiased third party doing an observational study or something. The best way to control or influence perceptions of something is to put it out there yourself.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Correct.

Since we have a number of members on this forum that live in China, and they're also on Chinese forums, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to have someone actually visit the factory and take some shots of their own, then post them.

I'm guessing that the reality will be remarkably different from the 'Rapha-styled' website of the company... that, you know, supposedly was produced by the manufacturer themselves. :roll:

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:28 pm 
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celeste55 wrote:
kgt wrote:
ultimobici wrote:
Rapha has done something that most companies either avoid or simply refuse to acknowledge.

Agree. No matter how naive Rapha's marketing sometimes is they deserve credit for this. At least we, as customers, have some clearer information.

Just keep in mind that it was them to put it out there. It's not some unbiased third party doing an observational study or something. The best way to control or influence perceptions of something is to put it out there yourself.

That's true.
In any case I admire companies that still try to produce in their countries. Greek economy had an interesting light industry once. This industry no longer exists. That's one of the reasons for today's crisis in my country, Europe, even in the US. We need to keep a percentage of actual production home and not import everything from China.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:39 pm 
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celeste55 wrote:
kgt wrote:
ultimobici wrote:
Rapha has done something that most companies either avoid or simply refuse to acknowledge.

Agree. No matter how naive Rapha's marketing sometimes is they deserve credit for this. At least we, as customers, have some clearer information.


Just keep in mind that it was them to put it out there. It's not some unbiased third party doing an observational study or something. The best way to control or influence perceptions of something is to put it out there yourself.
They divulged who makes their stuff, but the endorsement of that company's practices comes from a separate body.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:43 pm 
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prendrefeu wrote:
Correct.

Since we have a number of members on this forum that live in China, and they're also on Chinese forums, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to have someone actually visit the factory and take some shots of their own, then post them.

I'm guessing that the reality will be remarkably different from the 'Rapha-styled' website of the company... that, you know, supposedly was produced by the manufacturer themselves. :roll:
Problem is that a company as small as Rapha cannot afford to feed its customers such a line of bull as they aren't as big as Adidas, Nike et al who can afford to lose a few percentage points of customers.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:14 pm 
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I've been under the impression that China is facing a huge job shortage which is supposed to get worse. This even in lower skill positions and the situation is even worse when looking at more demanding positions. I was told that line assembly workers at my employers factory make $800/month and they are struggling to keep good employees so they need to keep upping the benefits all the time.

You can have good conditions in China and very bad in western world. Low skill workers in any western country are not in too good position and most are having hard time making ends meet. Bad thing is that the ratio between good jobs and shitty minimum salary/low skill jobs appears to be going the wrong way at least in our area. Sure a call center job is not the most awesome in the world, but should beat flipping burgers at 24h McD.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:28 pm 
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ultimobici wrote:
prendrefeu wrote:
Correct.

Since we have a number of members on this forum that live in China, and they're also on Chinese forums, I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to have someone actually visit the factory and take some shots of their own, then post them.

I'm guessing that the reality will be remarkably different from the 'Rapha-styled' website of the company... that, you know, supposedly was produced by the manufacturer themselves. :roll:
Problem is that a company as small as Rapha cannot afford to feed its customers such a line of bull as they aren't as big as Adidas, Nike et al who can afford to lose a few percentage points of customers.


"But in terms of quality manufacturing, to a scale that can satisfy the demand, Rapha has key pieces of performance roadwear made in the Far East." - Quote from Rapha.

It is funny (in the odd sense) that they are small when that image benefits them, or the arguments in support of them, but they are large in the sense that they have so many orders that they cannot be satisfied with manufacturing within their region (or the region of those that purchase their products). It is my understanding that their bib shorts are made in Italy. I would presume the scale of their sales is similar to that of their jerseys? So scale can't be that much of an issue is it?

Many other brands are able to meet demand through the use of European manufacturers and deliver quality that is equal to, or better than, Rapha. This would include Giordana (made in Italy?), Capo (made in Italy?) and Assos (made in Bulgaria and Slovenia?).

The article seems, at best, disingenuous. It would appear to me that the primary reason they manufacture in China is cost. Man-up Rapha! You try to portray this rugged, individualist image in your marketing campaigns. Don't be such a wuss when it comes to explaining your production choices.

By manufacturing in China Rapha can achieve the bottom line that they are after. That should be the bottom line of the article. To try to obscure this by dancing around the issue and bringing up the state of manufacturing in Japan 50 years ago does not address what appears to be Rapha's primary motivation. The things manufactured in Japan 50 years ago were perceived to be (and probably were) of inferior quality. But that changed dramatically over the ensuing years to the point that Japan deserves their current reputation. But just because Japan did evolve does not mean that China necessarily will or, more importantly, are there now. Japan also evolved in a system with more political freedoms and with a government that did not skew the market through artificial currency manipulations that impacted other economies. And we were free as consumers to judge the quality of Japanese merchandise for ourselves without the manufacturers writing one-sided spin pieces. The article was a shell game on Rapha's part and they should be ashamed to treat their customers with so little respect and candor.

And on the issue of "designed in London and made in China"... Give me a break! With so many of their core pieces the design, in terms of cut and fabric, was fixed many seasons/years ago. Now they are just tweaking color schemes, placement of bands on the chest or arms, etc. How hard is that? They absolutely do not engage in the sort of re-design that Assos does when they come out with new pieces. Rapha's design budget (true design and not marketing) would likely pale in comparison to their budget for either production or marketing. And my guess is that their marketing budget as a percentage of revenue is also much larger than Assos (or Giordana or Capo). So to say that it is designed in London isn't really saying very much. Good for you Rapha! You changed some color schemes in London.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:10 pm 
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A further note on the hypocrisy of Rapha... They try to cloak themselves in this image of the artist/individualist. For example, look at the way they cosy up to the independent frame builders and the model of production used by those builders (e.g.http://www.rapha.cc/builders; --- http://www.rapha.cc/bicycle/; --- http://www.rapha.cc/bespoke-the-handbuilt-bicycle; --- http://www.rapha.cc/jordan-hufnagel and --- http://www.rapha.cc/aende). If they believe so fervently in far east production then why don't they post pictures of carbon frames being built in China? Or does that run counter to their marketing?

Below in blue font is a quote from http://www.rapha.cc/builders

BUILDERS, BIKES AND PARTNERS

What follows is a collection of workshop photos and interviews with the independent frame builders who have built Continental team bikes. While cycling and bicycle manufacturing is overfast and obsessed with efficiency, these builders and their processes are not. In fact, it’s their individual experiences and character, and their attitudes and preferences that shape and inform their product.

About the Bikes

Our approach to building bicycles for the Rapha Continental Riders is a reflection of our environment both in terms of riding and in terms of the people, builders and brands local to the Pacific Northwest; Portland in particular. Inspired by the style of riding we’ve come to affectionately, if not with tongue-in-cheek, refer to as Gentlemen’s Racing or Epic’ing. It calls for steel and timeless classics to be lovingly, and with great deliberation, paired with lightweight nano-technology – on these bikes leather and carbon play well, ride heroically and look stunning together.

Each reliable understated bike starts with a local independent frame-builder and craftsman. For the West Coast Riders we worked with Ira Ryan, Tony Pereira, Sycip, Davidson, Signal, Rick Hunter, Lyonsport. For the East Coast Riders we went with Richard Sachs, Bilenky, Seven Cycles, Circle-A, Independent Fabrication and Igleheart. They’re custom and brimming with intention. They are hand built and designed to handle gravel descents as well as 23% perfectly paved climbs with panache and a grin.


Why don't they just put the riders on a Chinarello that they bought off of e-bay? Or does that not fit the image?

The point is that they seem to be touting the benefits of craftsmanship in the Western world, and the small production aspects associated with the makers, while pursuing a completely different course behind the scenes with their own business model. They are cloaking themselves in the aura of these manufacturers while believing something very different for themselves and acting in a different way. That is hypocrisy. They penned the article to try to blunt the criticism of their products and manufacturing as found on forums such as this one. I find it insulting. I have bought their products in the past, knowing after the first order (and inspecting the tags) that many of the products are made in China. But now I am going to re-think my purchases based upon the article. And as for the builders, it seems to me that Rapha has made fools of them. The message from Rapha to hem seems to be a spin on the "Do as I say, not as I do!" to maybe "Do as I spin, not as I do!" Those custom builders should take some serious time to reflect upon their relationship with Rapha and the way Rapha is using them to spin their image.

Bottom-line: You can try to put lipstick on a pig, but underneath it all it is still just a pig.

Edit: Had to add a link to the Rapha site about Moots: http://www.rapha.cc/moots They are located in Colorado, the state where I live. Steamboat, Colorado is an expensive location to manufacture in, yet Moots have done everything they can to keep production there and employ numerous local people at the Moots Factory. The article discusses the factory a little and they provide pictures from Rapha's tour of the factory. In other words, Moots doesn't just design the frames there, they build them there with local workers and pay a good wage to the workers in the process. Apparently Rapha thinks enough of this business model to write about it, but not to adopt it. Good for Moots! (Bad for Rapha.)


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:39 pm 
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Intelligent questioning of marketing?!?! WHAT?!?! Heresy!

Watchout, [a certain user] will come at you to defend all Holy in the name of the Rapha (and anything else that reflects conspicuous consumption).

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:34 pm 
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Quickdraw wrote:
Had to add a link to the Rapha site about Moots: They are located in Colorado, the state where I live. Steamboat, Colorado is an expensive location to manufacture in, yet Moots have done everything they can to keep production there and employ numerous local people at the Moots Factory. The article discusses the factory a little and they provide pictures from Rapha's tour of the factory. In other words, Moots doesn't just design the frames there, they build them there with local workers and pay a good wage to the workers in the process. Apparently Rapha thinks enough of this business model to write about it, but not to adopt it. Good for Moots! (Bad for Rapha.)

I agree. A lot of companies (usually smaller and 'family run') do keep 100% of their production in the UK or Us or Italy of Germany or France.
It's maybe not that profitable but it's definitely possible.

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Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 8:34 pm 


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:30 pm 
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A fair point raised by Quickdraw. Very hard to argue against the propositions that:

1. Chinese production of Rapha's clothing is to a significant extent cost driven - or at least that this is a reasonable assumption for us to make in the absence of financials from Rapha.

2. That when it comes to bikes (where they have a miniscule/ non-existent profit motive) Rapha associate themselves very explicitly and overtly with boutique manufacturers - the very antithesis of low-cost, high volume far east production.

Has the page in question just been taken down?


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