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Saying Hello To Belstaff—Plus: A Brief Brand Bio journal image

Saying Hello To Belstaff—Plus: A Brief Brand Bio

Posted in: The Shop, This Just In

We’re proud to welcome Belstaff as the newest addition to our roster. This iconic British brand has been making motorcycle jackets for more than 91 years, and with some sensible updates like D30 armor and modern waterproofing, they’re better than ever.

Specifically, we’re now stocking three jackets from the company’s hard-to-find “Pure Motorcycle” line—all of which come with integrated armor and removable quilted liners. As of this writing we have full size runs in each: The Brooklands  8-ounce short waxed cotton jacket, the similarly short-cut Mojave leather jacket in luxury-grade, Italian-made leather, and of course the brand’s trademark: the famous 3/4-length Belstaff Trialmaster, made from heavy 10oz waxed cotton.

From L to R: The Leather Mojave jacket, the classic 10oz Trialmaster, the 8oz Brooklands—all come with D3O armor and additional layers of thermal and/or waterproofing insulation.

Check out our Belstaff brand page for detailed photos and descriptions of each jacket. Or better yet come in and try one on in person.  These jackets are best measured by slipping one on, feeling their weight, seeing the impeccable stitching, and generally realizing that these jackets are built to last. But they won’t last long. And that’s not just some sales shtick it’s the truth. Once our first order of jackets is gone we won’t be getting restocked until the end of the season.

/// Rumors of Belstaff’s Death have been Greatly Exaggerated

Besides the standard product info and specs we feel obliged here to reveal some of the thinking behind bringing Belstaff onboard. If for no other reason because the last time we posted something about the brand on this website it was to lambaste it for selling out, and we figured, for abandoning its motorcycle roots.

Turns out we were wrong. Sortof. Mostly.

The brand did indeed sell out. For those counting at home, it’s done so three times in the last decade. First it went to Italian businessman Franco Malenotti in 2004, after he’d already spent years with the brand as a distributor and director; then it sold again, this time to a Swiss luxury goods conglomerate in 2011, with personal investment from Mr. Tommy Hilfiger; and then it sold again last summer to yet another European holding company looking to beef up its stable of luxury labels.

During this time Belstaff generally pursued runway shows and Hollywood cameos more than developments in motorcycle gear, with one shining exception.

In 2005 the brand launched its Pure Motorcycle collection of classic waxed cotton and leather motorcycle jackets beefed up with removable D3O armor and additional waterproof and thermal liners. While it’s been next to impossible find the Pure Motorcycle line in any stateside store, Belstaff has been making this same basic armor-equipped line for nearly a decade and, it says, is committed to keeping it in production for the foreseeable future.

After we got a call from the recently reorganized Belstaff last summer, we took a close look at the product and found the quality to be so ridiculously good that we couldn’t say no. That the history and heritage behind the brand is next to none is just icing on the cake.

/// Background Check: 91 Years of Belstaff Brand History

/// A Diamond in the Fluff

Regardless of how one favors the fashion side of Belstaff’s business model, all those runway shows have without a doubt helped sustain the company’s tradition of turning out classic motorcycle jackets—which are now better than ever.

The Malenotti family (Father Franco bought the company and son Michel was CEO at the time of the 2011 sale) is responsible for steering Belstaff’s public image towards the high fashion end of the apparel and outerwear spectrum. The also pumped up the brand’s public image through copious cameos and Hollywood product placements. And despite the fact they went so far as to team up with J.Crew to put out a special issue fashion-weight Trialmaster, they didn’t abandon the brand’s motorcycle history—that DNA is far too valuable. Commendably, the Malenottis launched the Pure Motorcycle line in 2005, helping the brand maintain a foothold with motorcyclists. They also moved production to Italy—a bummer for faithful British motorcycle riders, but the move seems to have been a good thing for craftsmanship and quality control.

U.S. motorcycle riders can be forgiven for having never heard of the Pure Motorcycle line before. There have been virtually no retail shops stocking it (until now) and there’s been zero real promotion on this side of the pond.

If you have seen a Belstaff ad, it’s probably at best been Ewan McGregor or David Beckam flouncing around on bikes in fashion jackets, or at worst even further from its motorcycle roots: a somber glamour model showing off the latest high-priced women’s trench coat or pants suit.

Are these jackets expensive? Damn right they are. As we’ve said before we don’t carry high-end gear for the sake of being high end. We look to stock quality gear that’ll last the test of time, and these jackets hit the mark.

Expensive yes, but they’re made to exacting, luxury-grade specs and they cost a fraction of the price of the “pure fashion” line. And when you consider the Pure Motorcycle jackets are actually more difficult to make than their fashion-line siblings—what with armor accommodations, waterproof liners, heavier duty materials and miscellaneous other little details— they’re actually a bit of a bargain. Especially if you amortize the cost of a coat over the number of sheer years its likely to last.

1951: Waiting for the Flag to Drop at Castle Coobe

1951: Waiting for the Flag to Drop at Castle Coobe

*A Note on Intended Use

Motorcycling has come a long way since Belstaff’s founding in 1924. Weatherproofing is still an important factor for motorcyclists, but it’s no longer the only one. Innovations like armor, full-face helmets, not to mention ABS brakes, have completely changed how people approach riding. Unlike soggy post-war England when Belstaff was founded, most of today’s roads are well paved and built for speed and traffic. The Level 2 CE armor at the elbows and shoulders of each Pure Motorcycle jacket certainly helps. This should be an obvious point, but just to be clear: we still don’t recommend going down at highway speeds while wearing anything but the superior abrasion resistance of full leathers. Which is to say: anything less involves some sort of compromise. And that said, we believe all of Belstaff’s Pure Motorcycle options make great city or commuter motorcycle jackets, and we’re glad to add them to our offering.