A History of Belstaff

Written by Marc | 24/02/2014



Brand Focus

How To



The History

Belstaff LogoFrom equestrian to aviation, Belstaff has established itself as an elite brand through its sporting past.  The classic Belstaff jacket has become popular with celebs and fashionistas alike, but the intricate textile innovations in its design were created with motorbikes in mind.  Bagging Beckham for their Spring/Summer 2014 campaign, the British brand is bigger than ever…


David Beckham in Belstaff

Belstaff was actually founded as a motorbike brand, in 1924.  The brainchild of Harry Gosberg, the original aim was to create a waterproof garment for both male and female bikers.  His success is plain to see – in 1943the Belstaff Black Prince Jacket was named the bestselling waterproof jacket of all time, a title won with the help of the innovative textile choice “wax cotton”- a breathable, waterproof fabric.

Now synonymous with bikers, Belstaff is known for robust outerwear and is the company behind further innovation into fabrics which can stabilise temperature and work with a motorbiker’s movements.

The jackets of champion racers Sammy Miller and Phil Reid inspired popular models such as the Belstaff Trialmaster, and the popularity of this jacket soared as Che Guevara is said to have worn one on his trip across Latin America.

Belstaff has ridden out the economic struggles many fashion companies have been plagued by after overcoming the unfortunate closure of its Silverburn Factory in the 90s.  This is no doubt due to its broad appeal, combining motorbike functionality with fashion flair.

The Science

Belstaff - The Science Behind the Brand

The Experts Opinion

Matthew EvansIt’s easy to see why the iconic brand has stood the test of time”, Matthew Evans of Mansnaps Style Guide told us.  “Classic motorcycle-inspired pieces look as fresh and exciting now as they would’ve done when the brand was founded in 1924 (albeit with a little help from David Beckham).”

With the football-playing fashion behemoth fronting the campaign, all eyes are on Belstaff.  “The past few years have seen more and more brands look to their heritage for inspiration as the attitudes of the male shopper have shifted towards a demand for quality and timeless pieces.  It’s this attitude shift which has put Belstaff in a prime position”.  We couldn’t agree more with Matt’s succinct conclusion – “the legend really does live on”.


Rachel AnthonyWe also caught up with the beautiful Rachel Anthony, fashion director, writer and presenter, to get her lowdown on the brand. “Belstaff for me is the perfect combination of functionality and luxury in a British heritage brand”. She summarised perfectly why leather has such fashion appeal. “The brand has a rugged elegance which translates well into daywear, which is why it is easy to see its popularity with celebrities, as it works as a fashion staple”. They have all-around, annual appeal, “consistently popular with those who want quality without being seasonal or flashy, and their iconic jackets are also beautifully functional for those who love the great outdoors”, Rachel told us, again highlighting the practicality of uniting motorbike flexibility and fashion.


Sara DarlingFor Sara Darling, fashion stylist and writer, the Belstaff jacket should be seen as a staple, much like a classic denim jacket. “The Belstaff jacket is a key fashion item for both sexes as it has an old school rock’n’roll appeal; a step up from the denim jacket, the leather biker jacket is universally appealing and can add an edge to any outfit.” She went on to add that part of the jacket’s appeal is the rebel image that comes from its biker roots. “When you think of motorbikes, you think of glamour and rule-breakers”.
Strong heritage and quality craftsmanship are the qualities which Sara believes have secured Belstaff’s popularity over the last 92 years, with its new partnerships ensuring this legacy for the future. “With the brand now under Italian ownership, it is moving to a more grown-up and fashion-focussed arena, and Beckham has been part of dictating what grown-up men want. He is an iconic figure who is known for his individual style choices, so fits the brand perfectly.”

The Experts Choices

Matthew Evans Belstaff ChoiceMatthew Evans:

“My favourite piece has to be the Roadmaster as modelled by David Beckham in the campaign.
I would style this with slim-fit jeans and a basic tee for a relaxed, authentic biker look and let the jacket do the talking.”

Rachel Anthony Belstaff ChoiceRachel Anthony:
“My favourite piece currently is the Belstaff Panther leather jacket. In winter I would team it with dark denim or grey cashmere jumper and a scarf, in summer teamed with lighter fabrics. This jacket’s colour and texture will only improve with age, making it a great investment piece.”

Sara Darling:

“I would style the Kilbourne biker jacket with a black T shirt and jeans. It should be a very slim fit and worn with sunglasses. Always!”

View the full range of Belstaff jackets and coats available at Mainline Menswear here.

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