Saying Goodbye to Belstaff
The new direction of the company—as The New York Times recently verified in a review of Belstaff’s new Madison Avenue boutique—is firmly aimed at high-end fashion. "It seemed like a fair guess that none of the men in the store owned motorcycles," writes NYT reporter Jon Caramanica. "Therefore, a decent part of the selection looked like Halloween costumes on them." Ouch. There have been several harbingers of Belstaff’s demise. It sure didn’t help the brand’s retro-cool cred when Steve McQueen’s estate sued Belstaff for the unauthorized use of the motorcycle icon’s image. Last summer the company was bought by LabelLux, a holding company whose stable of fashion brands also includes brands like Jimmy Choo and Derek Lam. And in the last year even the ever-preppy J. Crew got involved, selling a severly neutered version of the Trialmaster. The real-deal armored cotton and leather jackets of the Belstaff motorcycle line have become as hard to find as they are expensive. In addition to outlets in Milan and London, the new NYC boutique reveals the new direction of Belstaff in all its high fashion glory. With a former designer for Burberry at the reins the “Pure” motorcycle line is long gone. Or at very least, incredibly hard to find here in the U.S. Instead: $110,00 crocodile-skin Trialmaster, anyone? Ironically we can expect to start seeing a lot more of the once hard-to-find brand, as the company is now running a $20M international ad campaign featuring Ewan McGregor flouncing around with supermodels on bespoke vintage bikes. With Barbour, the other original waxed-cotton motorcycle jacket company, already all-in to the high-end fashion hunt, it would seem options for serious riders looking for functional, high-value, vintage-inspired jackets are shit out of luck. Seems there’s room in the market for a newcomer to step up and produce a bona-fide waxed cotton motorcycle jacket. Until then, we’re happy to be selling the new Melville and Gracia 3/4-length motorcycle jackets, becoming available at the end of this month. For $300 they come with a zip-in thermal lining, CE-rated armor, durable waterproof construction and, dare we say it, an look Steve McQueen could abide by. Contact Union Garage to pre-order today. UPDATE: It would seem maybe we wrote this Belstaff obituary too soon. After this post originally went up in October, 2012 it came to our attention that Belstaff is still (quietly) producing its Pure Motorcycle line of armored jackets. Although they haven't been widely available we're bringing a few into the store. Here's hoping we see the old Belstaff split off the fashion line and mount a comeback. For the full story, check out our Belstaff brand history here: Saying Hello to Belstaff.