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“Belstaff is, at its heart, a brand for those who want to push the limits,” – Creative Director: Sean Lehnhardt-Moore

 

 

Belstaff’s Beginnings

An iconic British lifestyle brand steeped in the spirit of adventure and rooted in innovation, it’s no wonder that Belstaff has become a global luxury brand. Belstaff’s rich history inspires the fearless explorer and fashion enthusiast to indulge in accessible yet refined menswear for a modern lifestyle. But how did the brand become the go-to for those who want to push the limits? Let’s take a deep dive into the brand’s roots.

In the year 1924, avid traveller Eli Belovitch embarked on a global search for innovative technology. On his travels through Egypt, Belovitch discovered waxed cotton and saw a true potential for this cloth to revolutionise the apparel industry. Upon his return to the UK, Belovitch set to work on developing his own version of the breathable yet waterproof cloth. This set a course for the future of the brand. With his son-in-law Harry Grosberg, they create the name that we know and love today, Belstaff; a clever combination of Eli’s surname and their Staffordshire home.

 

A History of Performance

With the water resistant, lightweight and durable properties of the fabric, it quickly became clear that the world of motorsport could be the perfect home for Belstaff Jackets. Producing designs primarily for motorcyclists, Belstaff became the first to create a motorcycle jacket made from waxed cotton – built to withstand life in the fast lane. Belstaff played to its market – specifically, British bikers participating in precarious off-road events such as the Scottish Six Days Trial. This approach quickly lead to the brand becoming the adventures’ outerwear of choice.

In 1943 Belstaff created the famous Black Prince Motorcycle jacket, which became one of the best-selling waterproof jackets of all time. During World War II, Belstaff supplied everything from parachutes to aviator suits for the British troops. Belstaff also continued to tweak its designs, striving to create another Motorcycling legend. In 1948 they hit the jackpot when the iconic Belstaff Trialmaster was born. This iconic piece of outerwear was the forefather of the Belstaff Racemaster and Belstaff Dunstall styles amongst many others.

 

Endless Innovation

By the 1960’s, Belstaff was a leading brand in producing high-tech apparel. Solidifying its identity in the industry further the signature Phoenix logo was introduced as a symbol of rising from the ashes. As the brand moved through the 70s, 80s and 90s, they introduced nylon fabrics into its collections under the name “Belfresh’ with the creation of yet another famous Belstaff jacket; the XL500.

Persisting in its endless pursuit of innovation, Belstaff developed a fabric with inbuilt metal protection. Dubbed Ironguard, This advanced material retains all its technological advances with total elemental protection that now can handle any impact. A further trailblazing move saw Belstaff introducing a system able to stabilise the temperature in all weather conditions called the ‘Reacta’ concept. As the classic silhouettes evolved, colours such as greens and reds were added. True identity and individuality followed as waxing rituals were performed by wearers to preserve the waterproof finish and quality. The finish would change tones as each rider waxed their jacket, making each jacket unique and customised for the individual.

Further fabric innovation was achieved in conjunction with the British Special Forces in the form of a high-performance Ballistic fabric. Following that, Belstaff developed a seam system called Elastoseam allowing the wearer maximum movement without compromising on style.

Head to Heel in Belstaff

By the 2000s’ Belstaff had built up a huge following and were renowned for its industry-leading Motorcycle apparel and protection. However, it was no longer just Belstaff Jackets on offer. The British brand had expanded its range to offer its fans Belstaff hoodies, Belstaff t-shirts, Belstaff polo shirts and, possibly most popularly, Belstaff overshirts.  In short, Belstaff can now adorn its loyal following from head to toe in revolutionary style proven to stand the test of time.

 

The Adventurer’s Choice

Today, adventure isn’t just about the ride or hike; the city is full of adventure. With its commitment to the spirit of adventure, Belstaff has evolved into a street-smart and country-ready brand with fabric innovation at the heart. Belstaff has a rich history of supplying gear to some of the most courageous people to have ever lived, from pioneers to high-profile celebrities. With many to name, the following are some notable individuals who have been seen donning Belstaff:

 

1930 – Amy Johnson & Amelia Earhart

Both high-flying Belstaff Jacket owners – Johnson the first female pilot to fly solo from England to Australia and Earhart the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

 

1952 – Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

Wearing a Belstaff Trialmaster, he set off on an epic eight-month ride through the jungles, deserts, mountains and cities of South America.

 

1963 – Steve McQueen

Belstaff Jackets gained cult status among the rich and famous when he wore a Belstaff Leather Jacket in classic wartime film, The Great Escape.

 

1972 – Jackie Stewart

One of the greatest racing drivers of all time creates a range of outerwear in collaboration with Belstaff.

 

1976 – Chris Bonington

The first climber to reach the summit of the Ogre in the Pakistan Karakoram, Bonington was adorned in Belstaff gear. He later designed the Belstaff Mountain Parka jacket with the brand.

 

2007 – Will Smith

He sported a bespoke version of the iconic Belstaff Trialmaster in the box-office hit I Am Legend which inspired the production of a coveted, limited-edition jacket.

 

2012 – Ewan McGregor

The face of its 2013 Spring Summer collection of classic Belstaff silhouettes, McGregor wore pebble grain leather among other classic styles.

 

2014 – David Beckham

Starring in a short film for Belstaff’s Outlaw collection, he also designed a small collection called Beckham for Belstaff.

 

2016 – Liv Tyler

Releasing a 12-piece capsule collection using history to tell the story of the modern Belstaff Woman, Tyler retraced the steps of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart in a short film.

 

A New Age of Belstaff

Belstaff’s consistent success has been built on further in recent years through numerous collections that blend precision performance and innovative design, with a focus on timeless elegance and rigorous accuracy as well as forward-thinking function.

The future for Belstaff is bright. With one foot in its rich history, each step towards the future brings their celebrated past to the forefront of their tomorrow.

 

Shop the latest collection from Belstaff here.

Or explore the history of the trialmaster here.

 

WORDS: CHARLOTTE CASTIGLIONE     |     ARTWORK: JOE OLIVER