Black and white photo of motorcyclist Sammy Miller riding over a dirt track in the Belstaff centenary book

A new book delves into 100 years of Belstaff

The book traces Belstaff’s century-long journey from motorcycle apparel brand to coveted fashion label, and complements a wider brand campaign marking its centenary

Some fashion brands release coffee table books so often that it’s hard to distinguish one from the next. Yet British apparel brand Belstaff had never put its own story down on paper, making its centenary book feel like a genuinely revelatory project.

Edited by Belstaff brand director Jodie Harrison and fashion writer Charlie Porter, Belstaff: Our First 100 Years traces the brand’s journey from an outerwear manufacturer in Stoke-on-Trent, where it was founded in 1924, to the globally known luxury label it is today.

Photo from Belstaff centenary book of a group of men wearing leathers standing around a clock tower
Top: ©️ Sammy Miller Archive; Above: ©️ Roo Lewis, 2023
Black and white photo of a person stood with their back to the camera wearing leather trousers and white t-shirt taken from Belstaff centenary book
©️ Samuel Bradley, 2023

The book features photographs of archival pieces for the fashion history enthusiasts out there, along with advertorials and branding that illustrate its evolution over the years.

This includes evidence of the brand name being spelled Bellstaff in its early years, and examples of how Belstaff’s communications approach bounced from proud, splashy adverts in specialist publications to direct marketing methods and back again. As Belstaff’s product designers began to see the value of style on top of function, so too did the people in charge of their adverts, which came with a fresh lick of paint in the early 1960s.

Photo of a Belstaff clothing label spelled with two 'L's taken from Belstaff's centenary book
©️ Jackson Frederick, 2023

There is also a potted history of changes in the market for motorcycle gear. While in the first half of the century, people almost always wore specialist garments for their intended purposes, the book covers the rise of biker style from the 1950s, followed by another surge in the late 70s with the ascent of punk rock, soon becoming a mainstream staple by the mid-1980s.

Though Belstaff was worn by everyone from mountaineers to marines, it is this link with motor racing that is strongest of all. This is beautifully captured in the photography spreads in the book, which document the past and present of motorsport events, racers and enthusiasts.

Photographers Roo Lewis and Samuel Bradley introduce us to people with links to the brand and take us inside the Scottish Six Day Trials and the Isle of Man TT – one of the most famous motorsport events in the world. Though the book leaps between eras, the sense of continuity between historic and contemporary photos helps everything feel part of the same story.

The book is launching as part of centenary celebrations that include a brand campaign, capsule collection, and an in-person event involving a weekend of talks, screenings and workshops at one of Stoke-on-Trent’s famous potteries.

Black and white photo of a child from Belstaff centenary book
©️ Samuel Bradley, 2023
Photo of a woman holding a cup and saucer leaning against a wallpapered wall next to a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
©️ Roo Lewis, 2023
Photo of motorcyclist Sam Lampkin wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses taken from Belstaff centenary book
©️ Roo Lewis, 2023

Belstaff: Our First 100 Years is published by HarperCollins;