In the past two years since its relaunch, Belstaff has rocketed—to put it in the label's preferred motor terms—from 0 to 60: menswear and womenswear, and megalith-size flagships in cities around the globe. And yet, for the customer, the label is just a year old. "We started shipping Fall '12, and now we're shipping Fall '13," creative director Martin Cooper said at his presentation today. "For many people, we're still a new brand." He took the occasion of his Spring collection to reiterate the archival history that provides the wellspring for his Belstaff, while edging it forward. Opposite models in the new collection, he arranged Belstaff outerwear from decades past, well loved but satisfyingly resilient. The correspondence between the new and the old was absolutely clear. That was the point. "For me," Cooper said, "the groove can never be deep enough."
For example: The Perfecto jacket then, the Perfecto jacket now. There it was in vintage form, and there were Cooper's newer versions, not only in leather (a fairly gorgeous petrol-blue leather that, along with the rest of the collection, suggests the designer has only skimmed the surface of his skill as a colorist), but also in canvas, in neoprene-bonded leather, and in a nylon so light he called it "onionskin." A version in hand-painted camouflage threatened to start the cycle of camophilia wrenching into gear all over again, even to a crowd of editors long since past their camouflage saturation point. The extrapolation of brand history continued through the more overtly Belstaffian Trialmaster jacket (here also as a jumpsuit), the moto pants, and more.
The whole collection felt more product-driven and, even within its narrow motorcycle purview, more diverse than in the past. Plus, attention must be paid to the conscious effort to drive down prices and, with new fabrications like canvas, nylon, and denim, keep them there.