Entry by Tom Jones Follow @
Since 1924, Belstaff has been synonymous with stylish motorbiking gear. More recently, however, it’s been popularised by the Hollywood set; many famous actors have been seen wearing them in films, (Brad Pitt & Daniel Radcliffe, anyone?) and others have been seen wearing them when not on set (George Clooney, for instance). Even the Pope has been seen wearing a Belstaff coat. Not that cool, I’ll grant you, but come on. It’s got Papal approval.
So Belstaff decided to allow one of their celebrity appreciators a hand at designing some products for them, eventually deciding on David Beckham, who first fell in love with Belstaff after finding a vintage Belstaff motorbike jacket. The fact David Beckham is noted for his good dress sense, along with the fact that this is not the first time a Beckham has designed clothes, I’ve no doubt allowing him to design a range was seen as a good idea.
And I believe, on the whole, it was. When we think of Beckham now, we think of a black and white photo of him modelling something and looking irritatingly handsome. You know -the ones that your girlfriend says she doesn’t like, but secretly and lustily eyeballs when you aren’t looking. You can see that transferred to these designs – they are monochrome, all in very subdued colours and all with a plain look about them. This collection has gone for a combination of minimalist simplicity and retro revival and have melded the two admirably well. Their t-shirts apply to the more minimalist school but they know their place; they are perfect for the ‘cool, but trying not to look like you are trying’ pared down look.
The jackets have obvious heritage, not just to the Belstaff range but to the obvious cool that generations of motorbike riders have gifted to the black, short leather jacket. The belted Marshfield Jacket is derived from the range of English jackets that Belstaff and Barbour have made famous -they’d look better with polished aluminium, rather than chrome (this makes the jackets immediately associated with Café Racer tradition, rather than the U.S. Biker Gangs). It doesn’t look like a pure motorbike jacket at first glance – it seems to look more like a traditional Barbour country jacket. However, it is very close to what the original Café Racers would wear. The Stannard jacket seems to hark back to Italian racers – this is evident from the double breast pockets and from the exposed traditionally placed zip. It isn’t hard to picture it in Ducati red, or atop a vintage Moto Guzzi. The Kendal Jacket’s line of descendent is obvious; it is obviously a descendent of the Perfecto jacket that Marlon Brando made so famous in ‘The Wild One’. Whilst by no means being a carbon copy or a poor imitation, the Kendal offers fantastic alternative. The Perfecto style has become something of a cliché but this jacket takes the cool look of the original whilst being different enough not to be caught in the same tired out bracket.
Finally we examine the lower portions (ahem). The Harpton jeans provide a great alternative to the tyranny of leather trousers for bikers (don’t forget that this range is actually practical for riding as well!). I’ve never liked leather Biker’s trousers, I think they make most men look downright weird. They usually are too tightfitting or just ugly; I realise this is a largely practical problem but it doesn’t alter the fact that leather trousers are possibly as painful to look at as they are to wear. The jeans in this collection therefore offer bikers an alternative that is both practical and stylish – something that has been missing for a while.
They would look good when coupled with the boots from the same collection; both posses a stylised faded and worn effect; a kind of industrial appeal. The boots would work as a casual boot with jeans, but I think you would be hard pressed to find another use for them in your wardrobe (unless you ride a motorbike, obviously).
This collection has much to offer if you are looking for something different. It manages to avoid the tired old ‘classic’ design points of biking wear (lots of zips, studs etc,) and for that, it should be appreciated. A must for well-dressed biker-or