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A British company’s journey from the back of motorbikes to the shoulders of the jet set In 1952, setting off for a 5,000-mile trip around South America on an ailing motorbike, a journey later detailed in The Motorcycle Diaries, a 23-year-old Che Guevara packed light. There was one essential piece of kit, through: his Belsraff Trial master. Having been launched five years earlier, the boxy, belted jacket with multiple pockets and quilted shoulders was already a firm favorite with discerning ad ventures. Charged with keeping out the elements on the back of a bike, it brought some style long for the ride. Sixty years later, the Trial master has a new departure, through a relaunch of its brand.

Description: Latest fans include Victoria Beckham and Angelina Jolie

Latest fans include Victoria Beckham and Angelina Jolie

In June 2011, Belstaff was bought by Labelux, the luxury group with visionary New York businessman Harry Slatkin as CEO and Tommy Hilfiger as an advisor. This dream team was added to when Martin Cooper, a fellow Yank who headed up Burberry’s outerwear in London for 16 years, was named chief creative officer.

Founded in 1924 by Harry Grosberg, Belstaff has a rich history. The first brand to use waxed cottons for outerwear, it was adopted by motor-cyclists, including Steve McQueen, and was soon more than a concession to the weather. Its “phoenix rising” symbol became a badge on the jackets of a glossy international elite (the Trial master’s latest fans include Victoria Beckham and Angelina Jolie).

This season, Cooper handled the heritage with a light, assured touch. At London Fashion Week, his debut collection gently but firmly ushered in a new era. A fuzzy shearling military coat, pulling together classic lines and a modern, playful take on texture, was the first look. More outerwear that struck this balance followed. The Trial master was central, but reworked in python. Other highlights included a mini-biker with scaled-down epaulettes in army-green leather and, in a nod to the motorcycle, tea dresses with dévoré-style effects that resembled oil slicks.

In addition to a new space at Harrods, Belstaff stores are to open in London and New York by the Bond Street shop will replicate a country house, re-imagined as a destination store, complete with antique oddities to discover among the clothes. All in keeping with the brand’s history, without straying towards nostalgia – it looks like Belstaff is on the right road once again. Lauren Cochrane

Le Coq Sportif

Description: Sporty little numbers, French style

Sporty little numbers, French style

For 130 years, Le Coq sportif retained a laissez-faire approach to sporting apparel with its simple, unfussy kit; images of off-duty French tennis stars and attractive wives lounging in pastel terry-towelling tracksuits dominated. That all changed in 2010 when the brand returned to its Romilly-sur-Seine roots, transforming its historic factory on the outskirts of Paris into a textile development centre. Now, past and future work in harmony, with techno-advanced fabrics fused into classic styles – breathable training tops and lightweight jersey jogging bottoms line up with preppy cotton cardigans and natty tricolor polo shirts. Emile Camuset, a keen gymnast and cyclist, founded Le Coq Sportif in 1882, when he began employing local seamstresses to make team kit for his friends. By 1920, Camuset had become the official supplier for France’s professional football, rugby, basketball, and track and field events, not to mention a 40-year sponsorship of the tour de France that began in 1951 – reinstated for this year’s tour in celebration of the brand’s anniversary, with a specially updated rooster (France’s national symbol) logo by Ron Arad. Vive Le Cop! TM-S

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