My first introduction to Belstaff was by a friend of mine in London during 2005, he was an avid motorcyclist and Belstaff had just opened a flagship store on Conduit Street. As we walked past he explained how they were the best motorcycle jackets in the world and if I was riding a motorbike, I should be wearing a Belstaff. This statement grew in credibility while I was working for Bonhams auctioneers in California, during my time there they held a sale dedicated to the late actor Steve McQueen that I attended to represent the watch department (you never know where your next cover-lot might come from). Within the auction was a Belstaff motorcycle jacket McQueen had famously owned and worn, rumors at the time were George Clooney and Brad Pitt were going to bid for it (Brad Pitt only because he heard George wanted it, or vice versa). With a pre-sale estimate of US$2,000-4,000 it was already pricey for a worn-out jacket, a small one at that, but once the bidding had concluded this was but a distant number, the final price? A cool US$32,760. Before you ask, no, neither George nor Brad bought it, the eventual highest bidder was Belstaff themselves.
Founded in 1924, Belstaff was a British company specializing in the manufacture of water-resistant waxed cotton motorcycle jackets (a must for British riders), the brand fell into obscurity in the 1980's until acquired by the Italian company Mogliano Veneto, who themselves became part of the Labelux group in 2011. Since then Belstaff has grown into an international power-house of a fashion label, and not just for motorcycle enthusiasts. With an aggressive marketing strategy, particularly since being acquired by Labelux, their jackets can be seen on leading men in numerals Hollywood movies including; I am Legend, The curious case of Benjamin Button', Superman Returns, Wanted, Batman, X Men: Last Stand and Mission Impossible III. On the small screen they have been worn by Ewan McGreggor & Charley Boorman and more recently Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in the latest season of 24.
For me, personally, they will always be great practical jackets with, despite their recent Italian backing, a British sense of adventure.
While maintaining their purposeful design Belstaff seem to frequently be using new materials, the above RaceMaster 1970 featured a short-lived very warm liner that makes it great for cold mornings on the bike, but a little too toasty once the sun arrives. Some of the great design features they have retained for motorcycle riders include the offset waist buckle so it doesn't scratch your tank, useful chest pockets and zipped side pockets, high collar with fastener and roomy fit across the shoulder for when you're hunkered down over the tank.
With new flagship stores in London (the Conduit Street store has moved to a larger Bond Street location) and New York (Madison Avenue) the brand is maintaining its seemingly unstoppable expansion. Now if only they had a store in Los Angeles......(in the meantime for you Angeleno's there is an outlet store in Palm Desert)
For more details visit the Belstaff website www.belstaff.com