There is more to Belstaff than movie fodder

Leather IS having quite a moment. You might be thinking: when did it ever disappear? But if you cast your mind back a couple of seasons, you’ll remember all the lightweight, colour-blocked fabrics that captured everyone’s imagination – jackets that looked like they should have come with a bike were nowhere to be seen.

But with the weather changing, you might be thinking about investing in the trusted wardrobe staple again to tide you over in the colder months. If so, Belstaff could be the way to go – but be warned, I say “investment” for good reason. The brand’s latest collection of made-to-order crocodile skin leather jackets for men and women are priced from £45,000 – the price of your child’s university degree and then some. Nonetheless, they are pretty spectacular.

The jackets are the perfect nod to the label’s history, while also feeling incredibly modern, as you would expect with a price point like that. While the prices might seem out of this world, the introduction of the exclusive, made to order service makes sense. Even the most commercially solid brands are facing the conundrum of how to increase profits and expand without becoming too mainstream, so creating such premium pieces deals with the threat of some D-list celebrity wearing one and ruining the image.
It’s long overdue. Ever since the label launched in 1924, reinventing the biker jacket by introducing a waterproof breathable wax cotton style, it hasn’t done anything particularly ground breaking or memorable. In fact, you’re probably more familiar with seeing the brand on the big screen (on the back of Tom Cruise, Will Smith or, most recently, Daniel Craig in Skyfall), than spotting people wearing it on the streets.

The strength of its latest offering is a result of a number of things. Two years ago the label was bought by Swiss conglomerate Labelux and, shortly afterwards, successful American businessmen Harry Stakin was confirmed as its new chief executive, bringing along good friend Tommy Hilfiger to serve as an adviser on the board. Its biggest weapon, though, is Martin Cooper. Having worked at Burberry for 16 years, leaving his role as its vice president and director of outerwear, it should come as no surprise that many have dubbed him “the king of outerwear.”

With him on side, be prepared to see a lot more Belstaff both on and off screen.

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April 22, 2014, 2:25pm