Quick, think Belstaff. If you’ve been around motorcycles for any length of time the image of a classic waxed cotton jacket pops up in your mind. The Trialmaster jacket, that sort of thing. Very British, very functional but not stylish in the Hollywood sort of way. Belstaff has been around so long their products form a kind of mental background image of where motorcycles have been. Many of Belstaff’s best sellers are jackets designed in the 30’s and 40’s, the Black Prince, from 1943, is the best selling waterproof motorcycle jacket of all time. Belstaff has changed, … a lot. So what happened?
Franco Malenotti, son of a famous Italian film producer, raced and then designed motorcycles for Laverda and Moto Guzzi. He was asked by Belstaff in 1986 to do some design work for them which eventually turned into a Belstaff distributorship. Back in the 90’s, Belstaff, with all of their history, was nevertheless very near closing its doors. Malenotti, who was rather fond of the company decided to buy it and in 2004, did so. The company, now headquartered in Italy, is run by his two sons.
They embarked on a redesign of the Belstaff line into a much more high fashion but still very cool looking selection of jackets and accessories. Remember I mentioned Franco Malenotti’s film producer father? I have a hunch that connection brought the initial attention the company began to receive from Hollywood. What kind of attention?
[Leonardo] DiCaprio, whose Aviator jacket helped win Sandy Powell an Oscar for costume design, isn’t the only Hollywood star to buy in. Others include Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Britney Spears and Ben Affleck.
Belstaff appears on and off the sets of flicks like War of the Worlds, Ocean’s Twelve and Batman Begins, to name just a few…
Also: Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Sharon Stone, Madonna, Alicia Keyes, Jamie Foxx, the Rolling Stones, U2, Coldplay, and a whole lot more. You have to realize, they aren’t wearing the old Trialmaster.
If you go to the Belstaff website you’ll see what the new Belstaff is all about. There are many items that are reproductions of their very famous jackets of the past plus some that are updated versions and others that are completely brand new. It’s an interesting turn for the old British company and seeing Belstaff jackets on the runway in Milan is probably not what your average trials rider from the 60’s or 70’s would have forseen. I like it. Besides, DiCaprio would have looked a little silly in a Trialmaster.
Big hat tip to Jeff, one of The Kneeslider’s readers for pointing out the new Belstaff. Thanks!