Coat tales: the Belstaff Roadmaster
How the British heritage brand's iconic jacket is the essence of style and substance
There are 33 years between them but it's clear to see that Belstaff's Roadmaster jacket is cut from the same cloth as the British outerwear company's famed Trialmaster, figuratively, if not always literally. The Roadmaster might be thought of as the Trialmaster's more urban sibling, as their names suggest, one more at home amid the traffic than over rough and muddy ground.
But this isn't to say the same attention to hardy functionality isn't paid to the Roadmaster. Indeed, it likewise comes in a tough, 6oz waxed cotton and has the four, brass snap-fastening bellows pockets that make the styles so distinctive. That's certainly not the only aspect that takes its inspiration from the many military designs that, historically, Belstaff produced under contract: there's the short, strapped collar, the reinforced shoulders and ventilation holes at the armpits, the two-way zip and the buttoned storm flap that further protects the wearer from the elements. Inside is that distinctive Belstaff checked lining.
Yet the Roadmaster comes in a less traditional slimmer fit, which can be cinched in further still at the waist thanks to the addition of a belt. And, of course, while some models of the Trialmaster still come with the angled breast pocket – all the better for getting your map out, or, these days, more likely your phone – the Roadmaster opts for a cleaner symmetry.
If a choice must be made, it comes down to personal preference, for certainly the Trialmaster and Roadmaster are easy bedfellows. The latter, a favourite for the likes of keen bikers George Clooney and Ewan McGregor, the former having on its team the likes of Steve McQueen, motocross legend Sammy Miller and Che Guevara, who wore one on his motorcycle adventure across Latin America.
That may make the Trialmaster a tough act to follow. But when Harry Grosberg and his father-in-law Eli Belovitch established Belstaff in 1924, it was with the clear-cut intention of making some of the most versatile, hardwearing and water-resistant specialist clothing around. Designed with the riders of these newly popular, new fangled two-wheeled machines in mind, but clearly – though they couldn't have known it at the time – with allure for those who are just as happy dodging a shower between taxi rides.
Style, after all, was not what it was about. As the Roadmaster suggests, Belstaff is one of those few clothing brands that have had that bestowed on it by time.
Photographer: Matthew Shave; fashion director: Jo Hambro; grooming: Lou Box, S Management; model: Carl Joyce, IMG; photography assistants: Chantel King, Lainey Lawlor; fashion assistant: Julia Lurle; belstaff.co.uk