Longton, a market town in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England; Hollywood, a glamorous neighbourhood in Los Angeles, California, USA. The latter is the celebrity capital of the world, home of the stars and the epicentre of modern cinema. The former is a suburb at the heart of the 1900’s British pottery industry. Very little in common you may think, but Longton has made a more than significant contribution to Hollywood style over the years.
The story starts in 1924. Harry Grosberg and his father-in-law Eli Belovitch founded a business manufacturing a waterproof coat. The company’s name was taken from the first syllable of Eli’s surname and fused with the county where their soon to be opened factory would be based.
Then came the first real coup. As the first company in the world to use a fabric completely waterproof yet breathable – Egyptian Wax Cotton – Belstaff jackets were soon adopted by motorcyclists, founding a look that is still synonymous with motorcycling today, thanks to its many appearances in blockbuster movies and on the shoulders of Hollywood style icons.
Despite reaching its 75th anniversary in the 1990’s, Belstaff was hit hard by the textile crisis which resulted in the closure of the Longton factory and a further site in Silverdale. It was Franco Malenotti, a motorcycle designer and champion rider who joined the company as a designer in 1986 following an obsession with the brand that rescued the business and rebuilt it at headquarters close to Venice.
So is the link with the movies an accidental one? Well, Franco’s father was an acclaimed Italian film producer after all. For Belstaff, collaborating with film studios offers benefits for both parties. Whilst the likes of Sony, Fox and Universal get to kit out their A-list stars in the finest jackets, Belstaff enjoy the exposure of multi-million dollar Box Office movies. It’s an arrangement that preserves a high-level of autonomy for Belstaff, and is testament to their position as a luxury leather jacket brand.
Despite the recent economic downturn, the company seems to be bucking the trend. With new UK stores having opened recently in Manchester and Glasgow, the brand is no longer just associated with motorcycling and aviation, but is very much a lifestyle brand. Richard Branson is working with them on a specially-made jacket to wear on board Virgin Galactic on its inaugural space flight next year and the white parka coat that Pope Benedict XVI dons during winter walks in the Vatican garden carries the distinctive wreath logo created all those years ago in Longton.
So what about today – what’s the best Belstaff jacket to own? If you can pick up one of the vintage Trialmaster jackets, do so – regrettably, this iconic line has been discontinued and are only going to become harder and harder to find. More realistically (and affordably), you should look at picking up the Belstaff Roadmaster jackets, which have the same look, feel and features as the classics. Brass studs and buckles; cavernous cargo pockets on a ¾ length waxed cotton body that’s guaranteed to protect you against the elements; everyone who’s ever worn Belstaff, from motorcycle enthusiasts to celebrities, has commented on just how luxurious the materials feel.
As for what to wear with your Belstaff jacket…does it really matter? You could wear any old outfit complemented by one of these jackets and still look the part. The attention to detail and quality of the materials distinguishes these jackets from other brands which pale in comparison. With a rich range of leather and waxed-cotton jackets to pick from, you’ll have no problem finding one that’s the perfect fit for you. Visit here to know more about Belstaff Jackets.