Perhaps you’ve already heard, but Belstaff was recently sold to The Labelux Group and Harry Slatkin, who together plan to transform the company into a high-end designer label meant to compete with the likes of Balmain. That means limited production runs, the use of exotic materials, and, I assume, considerably higher prices. You can see the upcoming new collection here.
Not that anyone should read this as the passing of a “heritage brand.” True Belstaff jackets arguably died in 2004, eighty years after the company first started selling their waxed cotton jackets with flap collars and belted riggings to motorcyclists across Britain. In the mid-2000s, an Italian company bought up the flagging British brand and turned everything into fashion products. Whereas the original Roadmasters and Trailmasters were cut for motorcyclists (and often had the peculiar problem of leaving black smears every time they leaned against something), the Italians slimmed up the fit, made the sleeves more workable, and fixed the inky cloth problem. Yes, it’s a fashiony motorcycle jacket, but for most people, the original wouldn’t have been very wearable otherwise.
The newest transformation means that much of the current line will be phased out in favor of the high-end designer focus. Luckily, they’re keeping at least a few iconic pieces, such as the Roadmaster. Some variations of it will be dropped, or so I’ve heard, but a few standard makes will still be offered.
I’ve been wearing a Roadmaster occasionally on weekends with 3Sixteen jeans, white Levis t-shirts, and footwear such as shell cordovan boots or pebble grain chukkas. On chilly early mornings, I may also throw on a grey sweatshirt. The general idea is to pair it with things you might actually ride motorcycle in, even if you don’t. Throwing a motorcycle jacket over tailored wear, in my opinion, is a bit costume-y. So yes, a bit different from my go-to of tailored clothing, but it’s nice to have an occasional break from the sport coat uniform.
For those who might want to pick a Roadmaster up, they’re currently on sale at Barney’s for $360. Accompanying liners have also been discounted to $140. You have to call one of their boutiques, however, as they’re not currently available online. I know at least the San Francisco branch carries it and is willing to ship. Note that Barney’s sale is slowly ending, and every day, sets of items are being shipped off to storage, where they’ll be held until the semi-annual warehouse sale in NYC and Los Angeles. If you like Roadmaster jackets, get one now, while these are on considerable discount, and before someone at Belstaff designs them out of alligator leathers and sells them for price of a Rolex.
Addendum: You should go to Voxsartoria’s site and check out his c.1954 Belstaff Trialmaster. Truly something great.
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