Belstaff, a British label, has been around since 1924 providing the best combination of style and function in the form of leather and canvas-made clothing. Their most prominent area of production: jackets. They’ve also been the choice for Hollywood costume designers, their latest creation being shown in Tron (2010). High profile celebrities like Richard Brandson and the Pope are also among their customers.
In 1986 the company turned Italian when acquired by the Malenotti family. So why does it look so German? Well, because of its impeccable utility, of course! The company was founded as a function over form production house specifically aimed at aviators and riders. The first company to use waxed cotton canvas as a material to make clothing, undoubtedly due to the scarcity of leather and other always-expensive materials, became an icon in a very short period of time. Belstaff’s impeccable durability and protection from the elements was often rivaled, but never quite matched. As times got tougher towards the 90s, the brand has very intentionally interwoven itself with Hollywood for some mutually beneficial marketing.
Since this new strategy, the brand has become flashier and flashier. Functional fashion at a price! Well, I really should know better. Anything with fashion in the name should be exorbitantly expensive. In keeping with the good-looking function it seems the Italians think that the German look is pretty appealing in Milan. They must think like Lady Gaga. Or maybe they’re trying to make up for their abysmal performance during WWII. Really, it doesn’t matter. Belstaff looks amazing!
Just enough edge, just enough efficiency. In the club or on the road, a Belstaff can make anybody look uber cool. Strike a pose with a naughty smirk, or a stiff lipped stare and you can either be Ewan McGreggor, or Will Smith. I guess functionality is not just to protect against the element, but has a very real social aspect as well.
So, it satiates the aesthetic parts of both the Hooligan and Dandy’s brain, but then they have to come back to the real world. Wouldn’t a significantly less expensive First Gear, Tourmaster or Shift jacket do that just as well? It would protect you just as well. It would look just as good. Unfortunately, it won’t be as timeless as the Belstaff. Like the few other fastidious brands out there, Belstaff doesn’t make clothes that look good or function well, they make a second skin a person can feel comfortable in for the rest of their life. So, can you put a price on a jacket to grow old with, and look good doing it? Doubtful.
For a very long time I was looking at a Belstaff Mutt jacket and colonial bag (which Will smith sported in I Am Legend). I know the bag sells for $380-ish, no idea on the jacket. Luckily the bag won’t fit a 15” laptop safely, or comfortably, which means my wallet is safe, for now. I could very easily spend $1,000 here, the same $1,000 I could spend on my racing season next year. I think my current jacket and backpack will do, for now.
Photos copyright Belstaff Clothing Company, all rights reserved, used under good faith of fair use.