Wax on: Belstaff X Vestiaire Collective

Waxed cotton jackets have always been cool, but few come close to these vintage Belstaff Trailmasters

Words by
Aleks Cvetkovic

There’s something special about waxed cotton. When it comes to repelling water, there are higher-performing and more modern materials to choose from; fabrications that breath better and that do a better job. But there’s nothing that ages like it. Nothing that takes on such a rich, weathered character that invariably improves with wear.

Belstaff’s world-beating ‘Trialmaster’ jacket testifies to this. One of the first waxed cotton motorcycle jackets ever designed, it was introduced in 1948 to provide appropriate protection for riders battling the gruelling conditions of the Scottish Six Day Trial motorcycle race. A triumph of both style and practicality, its heavy waxed composition lent the Trialmaster a unique appeal among motorsport aficionados. Not only was it insulating and well-suited to fending-off the elements, its wealth of pockets and belt made it a remarkably useful travel companion for speed-freaks on long-haul endurance races.

In 1951, legendary motorcyclist Sammy Miller wore a Trialmaster as he romped home to victory in the Scottish Six Day Trial aged just 18. Miller went on to wear Belstaff in over 1,000 races and has sworn by the brand his whole career long. Other notable wearers include Sir Jackie Stewart, Chris Bonnington and Steve McQueen. Believe it or not, even Che Guevara sported a Trialmaster during his epic eight month motorcycle adventure through South America in 1953. The Trialmaster has, in other words, become as much a part of motorcycle culture as the famous bikes it’s always been worn upon.

Now, ten individuals have the rare opportunity to own a piece of Belstaff’s motorcycling history. Ten Trialmaster jackets have been selected from the house’s archives by vintage fashion powerhouse Vestiaire Collective. Each jacket is a well-worn 1960s or 70s original and comes with its own set of quirks. Take the hand-sewn Goodyear logo and BSA pin-badges on the piece above for example – personal marks of allegiance from one particular past owner.

The Belstaff archive is curated by The Vintage Showroom, an extraordinary boutique-cum-archive in Covent Garden, owned by vintage obsessives Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett. The two have built one of the most culturally significant collections of vintage clothing in the country, if not the world, and Belstaff has not chosen lightly to part with these jackets. The house’s Creative Director, Delphine Ninous, evidently felt that it was the right time.

Our archive is not only a fantastic design reference it also showcases our legacy,’ she says of the partnership, ‘it’s great to offer Vestiaire Collective’s style conscious community the opportunity to purchase these jackets and we hope it introduces Belstaff to a new audience that appreciates craftsmanship and long lasting heritage.’ No doubt it shall, Vestiaire Collective prides itself on curating only the most storied vintage pieces available (only around 65% of submissions are accepted into the company’s catalogue) and these pieces have been chosen simply because they are some of the most characterful in the Belstaff archive.

Available to view in Belstaff’s New Bond Street store and to buy online exclusively through Vestiaire Collective, these Trialmasters aren’t just compelling vintage pieces. They’re retro motorcycling icons, made in England and put through their paces for at least 40 years a piece. They’re about as authentic as it gets, and in today’s world of fast fashion that makes them worth their weight in gold.

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