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  • Belstaff Movie Starring David Beckham

    The Interview


    Sport’s biggest style icon chats to Mr John Lanchester about fatherhood, football and his starring role in Belstaff’s short film Outlaws

    Words by Mr John Lanchester

    These days, Mr David Beckham describes himself as “a driver”. He is only half joking. He takes his children to their four different schools every morning, picks them up every afternoon and cooks them dinner most nights. Appearing on Mr Jimmy Kimmel’s television programme, he claimed that “I’m literally an Uber driver”. I told Mr Beckham that, with two teenagers of my own, I sympathised, but at least we should be grateful that our children can’t summon us by app. He laughed and said: “It would be game over”.

    However, Mr Beckham doesn’t have an Uber driver’s typical CV. In the first decade of this century, the president of Real Madrid football club set out to assemble a squad of “galácticos”: football players who were so famous that they would be recognisable not just anywhere in the world, but throughout the entire galaxy. (I’m using “football” in the global sense of the term to refer to the game that in the US is called “soccer”.) The idea was that you could get into a taxi anywhere in the world, from Beijing to Johannesburg or Sydney to Oslo, and the cab driver would be able to name five or six players from the Real Madrid team. Once the policy was announced, it was clear that Real Madrid would eventually sign Mr Beckham as he was already one of the most famous footballers, and most recognisable faces, in the world.

    He moved to Madrid in 2003, and since then his celebrity has only grown. It helps that he is as good looking today, at 40, as he was when he first started playing for Manchester United in his late teens. It also doesn’t hurt that he is married to Mrs Victoria Beckham, the former Spice Girl (Posh Spice) turned respected fashion designer. Some observers have given her credit for his interest in fashion, but the fact is that Mr Beckham’s engagement with style predates their relationship. The earliest photographs of him in youth football teams show him as the one with distinctive – usually spiky – hair. The Class of ’92, a documentary about the 1992 Manchester United youth team showed him customising a sponsor’s donated car and being teased about it by the other players, and he clearly did not mind. He likes things the way he likes them.

    Footballers are conservative and conformist about their style – the “banter” culture of the dressing room puts a heavy premium on not being different. Mr Beckham never subscribed to that. I asked him where this passion came from.

    “I don’t wake up in the morning and think I’m going to wear this today, I just go out in what I feel comfortable in”

    “I actually don’t know,” he said. “My dad definitely wasn’t into style. He was dressed all right, but he was never into fashion, even though he was a mod back in the day. He had an amazing Vespa that got nicked outside my gran’s house. But I don’t know where it came from. It was there even at a young age. I was a pageboy when I was really young, and I had a choice of whether to choose a suit or knickerbockers - and I chose knickerbockers.”

    Those knickerbockers were not the last time Mr Beckham made a distinctive or controversial fashion choice. He has gone out in public wearing a sarong and he has 40 tattoos; several of them visible when he is fully dressed. His beard, which is neatly trimmed on the day we meet, has at times a lavishness that is part-hipster, part-Duke-in-exile. By his own admission, when he was in Spain, “I kind of had a mullet going on”. As he himself says with a grin about his sartorial choices, “It’s not always been right”. He clearly – and robustly – doesn’t care and isn’t going to stop. “I don’t know… The style thing, it’s not something I do on purpose, I don’t wake up in the morning and think I’m going to wear this and this today, I just go out in what I feel comfortable in.”

    “With the way men dress, there are rules… but rules are made to be broken and I think I’ve done that over the years”

    I’m reluctant to leave it there, because his appearance has done a lot to make him what he is today. Most men who are famous for style or fashion have a look; a distinctive way of dressing. Mr Beckham doesn’t as he, himself, is the look. I mention to him the idea that male dressing is based on rules, expecting him to not agree. He half-does and half-doesn’t.

    “I think it’s important for people to have their own sense of style – a personal style. I think there are certain rules, especially when you’re English, because you’re brought up on ‘this is how a gentleman should dress’. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford it, you can go to Savile Row and have a suit made, or you can go and see how people dress. We’re brought up around that. I think we’re lucky to have that. In that sense of fashion, and the way men dress, there are rules. But I do also think that rules are made to be broken and I think I’ve done that over the years, in good ways and in bad ways. But I’m having fun and I wear what I like to wear: I don’t get told what to wear. It’s always important to have your own mind.”

    His interest in style is apparent in what he’s been doing on the day we meet: taking part in a fashion shoot to accompany the release of a new short film, Outlaws, made in partnership with Belstaff. The film is written and directed by Mr Geremy Jasper. The executive producer is Ms Liv Tyler, partner of Mr Dave Gardner, Mr Beckham’s closest friend since their days in the Manchester United youth team. "Cinephilic" Mr Porter readers might compare Outlaws to Ms Marianne Faithfull’s film Girl on a Motorcycle, except with Mr Beckham wearing the leathers. Mr Harvey Keitel plays a maniacal film director who is bent on revenge, Ms Katherine Waterston is a trapeze artist, and there are conjoined twins, evil bikers, a bearded lady, and much footage of Mr Beckham zooming across the Mexican desert on one of his beloved motorcycles.

    The news about Outlaws, and the fact that Mr Beckham is appearing in Mr Guy Ritchie’s upcoming film about King Arthur, has led to excitable speculation that acting is his new goal in life.

    “Acting is not my new career, it’s just fun, it’s not something that I’m training to be better at”

    “I saw an article the other day that said this is my new career, and it’s really not,” says Mr Beckham. “It’s something that I’ve dipped myself into from time to time, but I only did it for a friend, Guy” – Mr Guy Ritchie. “I did a small bit in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and I’ve done little bit more for him in [Knights of the Roundtable:] King Arthur, and then obviously there’s what we’ve done with the Outlaws. But it’s definitely not my new career, it’s just fun, it’s not something that I’m training to be better at.”

    That’s a revealing way of describing an ambition – something you train to be better at. Not many celebrities talk like this. Mr Beckham’s air of glamour might make him seem a show pony, but his football was based on high work rate and long hours of off-screen effort. A large part of his fan appeal was, and is, in that combination of his looks and talent with his appetite for hard work.

    Mr Beckham retired from football in May 2013, after a spell at Paris Saint-Germain F.C. Most recently retired athletes have a loss around them and it is there, very faintly, around Mr Beckham, too. He and his advisers have prepared thoughtfully for the transition, though, and he is clearly busy. He has business and entrepreneurial projects; he has a plan to start a major league soccer team in Miami. He works hard for 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, a charity initiative that grew out of his work for UNICEF, focusing on projects in seven global areas where life is especially difficult for children. Mr Beckham calls this his “main focus” now – I’ve already heard from a source at UNICEF about how much work he does for now.

    But it’s impossible to miss that the central focus of Mr Beckham’s life now is his own children. His face changes when he talks about overhearing his son’s Brooklyn’s art teacher praising him (“all of a sudden, I realised I had to walk away, I was getting emotional”) or how Cruz said: “Daddy, can you teach me how to make a croque-monsieur?” When I ask him whether he teaches his boys about style, he instantly says: “They teach me now.”

    This might seem a matter of importance only to the Beckhams, but there is more to it than that. Mr Beckham is in essence a shy and private family man, who also happens to be one of the most famous men in the world. That combination could be his real legacy. Fatherhood has changed. Fathers have to do more than they used to. There aren’t enough role models for this modern kind of male parent: the hands-on one who bears his share of the ordinary daily work of parenting. We need to see more of that – I mean to really see it – in the lives of the rich and famous. Mr Beckham, who is one of the most admired, best-looking and richest men in the world, can’t think of anything he’d rather do than spend time with his children. It is, unarguably, a good look.

  • Well Travelled

    Groundbreaking expeditions and epic road-trips are a time-honoured Belstaff tradition founded by Che Guevara, Steve McQueen, and most recently Ewan McGregor and David Beckham. Now Californian Chris Burkard takes up the mantle of defining the spirit of two-wheeled adventure today, chasing the perfect shot around the globe in a ‘personal crusade against the mundane.’ Usually found surfing the Artic with camera in hand, Burkard came back to his home state to capture friend and fellow adventurer Eric Soderquist riding with Belstaff along the Big Sur.

    Surprisingly for a West Coast native, Burkard feels most at home in remote, dangerous and often sub-zero locations. Quitting his job aged 19 to become a surf photographer, he quickly found the regular surf spots and their tourist comforts monotonous. “I began craving wild open spaces, so I set out to find the places others had written off as too cold, too remote, and too dangerous to surf”, he admits. Burkard has since made a career conquering all weather conditions to capturing the beautiful challenge of adventures into the wilderness.

    "Amidst the harsh conditions, I stumbled onto one of the last quiet places - somewhere I felt a clarity and connection with the world."

    Exclusive prints from Burkard’s Big Sur trip are currently on display at Belstaff flagship stores in London’s New Bond Street, New York, Munich, Milan, Glasgow and Manchester, through August to September.

  • Only thing that beat a throttle in your Hand.

    Only thing that beats a throttle in your hand. Only thing that beats a throttle in your hand.


  • Belstaff Releases Collection of Jacket worn in Films.

    Just in time for the Oscars, Belstaff is releasing a capsule collection of leather jackets inspired by its designs worn on film. From the ’30s-style bomber worn by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator to the parka Angelina Jolie sports in The Tourist, the brand’s outerwear has had its fair share of screen time in the past decade. Catch all of the brand’s film highlights and the pieces available for purchase in the slideshow.

    Those looking to shop Brad Pitt’s Benjamin Button jacket, take note: The re-creations of its on-screen styles are already in Belstaff stores. Additionally, visitors will be able to see custom Belstaff creations for films in their retail locations, including the leather jacket Robert Downey Jr. wore in Iron Man and Christian Bale’s Batman bomber. James Dean fanatics will be pleased to know that the label is also giving away a single creation inspired by Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause moto jacket to a lucky visitor.

  • Belstaff Explorer


    What is the one defining characteristic of the world's great explorers? Something that they all have in common? According to modern-day adventurer, writer and motivational speaker Alastair Humphreys, it's that they were all 'ordinary'. Whether you’re talking about Sir Walter Raleigh or Sir Ranulph Fiennes, every great adventurer was a regular person who simply made the decision to do something daring.

    'Some of the most extraordinary journeys were undertaken by very ordinary people.' Humphreys explains. 'The only difference between those people and those who haven't done big trips is the choice. The difficult part of most adventures is getting to the starting line.’

    Alastair Humphreys exploring Greenland
    Greenland Expedition. Image credit: Alastair Humphreys

    Although Humphreys might not rank himself among his travel heroes, it was the likes of Patrick Leigh Fermor, Ernest Shackleton and Laurie Lee who inspired him to take the road less travelled. 'My escapades began because I loved reading stories of travel and adventure. Britain has this incredible legacy of explorers, which inspired me to dream of writing a book myself. I think the writing side of travel and adventure is my first love, really.'

    Finally deciding to stop dreaming and start doing, Humphreys embarked on his first journey in August 2001. But to call that first expedition 'big' is quite the understatement. Aged 24, Humphreys set off from his parents' house in the Yorkshire Dales on a bicycle weighed down with supplies and a change of clothes. He didn't return for over four years. Admitting that he embarked on the kind of trip he 'assumed would fail', he persevered on his round-the-world journey, through the stifling desert in Sudan, through Argentina’s arduous Aconcagua mountains and snow-covered Siberia. His extraordinary journey took him 46,000 miles across 60 countries and five continents.

    Alastair Humphreys hiking to Laugafell
    Hiking Laugafell, Iceland. Image credit: Alastair Humphreys

    What perhaps separates Humphreys from his contemporaries is a truly nomadic spirit. Throughout that first epic journey - which cost him only around £7,000 - he carried all his belongings on a bicycle. No television crew or entourage accompanied him, he usually camped out under the stars and occasionally relied on the kindness of strangers. 'I really like the simplicity of adventures,' he says. 'Part of me would like to collect beautiful things from around the world, but that's not really compatible with my life – cluttering it up with stuff. I'm filling it with memories instead.'

    He documented his journey through photography and blogging, later publishing a two-part book on the expedition. Once home, the inevitable ‘what next?’ question soon arose, but his experience only gave him the impetus to do more. Throughout the last decade, he has forged a career out of adventures, writing - he's published seven books, including a children’s series - and giving motivational talks. He has travelled across Iceland via pack raft, walked the length of the River Kaveri in India, and rowed across the Atlantic with three complete strangers. 'I love doing stuff I've never done before,’ he enthuses, 'starting from scratch and building up confidence in order to do the journey. I've really tried to make myself go and do something and not worry about failing – I worry instead about getting old, then looking back and regretting not doing it.'

    But Humphreys' most epic experiences eventually turned him on to the idea of 'downsizing' his trips. 'I noticed people started talking to me as though I were an adventurer and they were a normal person, which struck me as weird and quite uncomfortable - because I am a normal person,' he explains. 'It made me realize adventure is often seen as an inaccessible thing for normal people to do.'

    To prove that anyone can go on an adventure, Humphreys decided to spend a year exploring the Great British landscape through mini-excursions, such as swimming the Thames, or camping on a hill during the spring equinox. He named these experiences 'micro-adventures'.

    Alastair Humphreys swimming the Thames
    Wild swimming. Image credit: Alastair Humphreys

    'A micro-adventure is just an adventure,' Humphreys explains. 'The only difference is a micro-adventure is shorter in time. It doesn't cost a lot, doesn't require much expertise and you don’t have to live in the Himalayas to be able to do it. Micro-adventures are achievable within the constraints of busy people's lives.'

    If you work 9 to 5 and feel there aren’t enough hours in the day, Humphreys insists you are the perfect candidate. So convinced is he of the attainability of these excursions that, as well as publishing a book on the subject, he has dedicated a section of his blog to spreading the word. Full of month-by-month ideas, videos and tips, his blog has inspired a community of fellow micro-adventurers to document and share their experiences.

    'It's been really rewarding for me to see lots of normal, busy professionals getting out and having little adventures – and seeing the impact it can have on their lives,' he says. 'My mission for this summer and onwards is to try to get more people to do something they've never done before, out in the wild, close to where they live.'

    Well, what are you waiting for?

    Alastair Humphreys spoke on behalf of Belstaff’s Adventure Talks at the new South Kensington Club.

  • Cult of Cool

    The Rise of Café Racer Style

    In the US's early post-war decades, bikers were seen as outlaws. Ever since the wildly exaggerated Hollister riots of 1947 and the birth of the self-proclaimed 'one percenters' - following a statement by the respectable American Motorcycle Association that 99 per cent of motorcycle riders were law-abiding citizens - to be clad in black leather, astride an engine and two wheels, was to mark yourself as an outsider. Hollywood - thanks to films such as The Wild One, Live Fast, Die Young and High School Hellcats - served only to drive the stereotype home.

    Yet in the UK, as with so many things, biking was a more genteel affair - the newspapers' hysterical stereotyping of its fans being in some perpetual gang warfare with scooterists aside. Come the mid-century, riders tended to like this avant-garde new American music called 'rock', which soon got them dubbed 'rockers'. But not for nothing was the 59 Club - one of the most 'notorious' of London's biker groups - co-founded by Bill Shergold, habitué by night of Ace Cafe, the city's racer mecca, and a vicar by day. Biking had, after all, been a perfectly normal and popular pursuit since the Twenties.

    If biking in the US came to a peak in the late 1950s and 1960s, particularly as an outlet for dispossessed and disaffected GIs returning from World War II, it endured as more of a shared passion in the UK, especially when it came to the lightweight 'cafe racer' machines, which facilitated a stupendous speed on the roads that only more expensive, customised machines were capable of. Certainly, despite the popular characterisation of bikers as scruffy, anti-social layabouts, it took the income of a steady job and a grasp of mechanical wizardry to be one at all.

    Indeed, older rockers might be a little perplexed by the fashion world's adoption of their style as being iconic, a fact to which Belstaff's latest collection, with its patch-covered, studded, sleeveless summer-weight leather tops and articulated trousers, coated linens, henleys and bandanas - in fact, everything but the engine oil - pays homage. For the bikers of the period, the clothes, frankly, were a passing thought, chosen for their affordability and functionality, the British climate, and lack of money, with only a lucky few able to acquire purpose-designed waxed cotton or leather jackets from the likes of Belstaff. These would be festooned with patches and pin-badges denoting rallies attended, and customized with chains, fringes and hand-painted decals to the extent that they amounted to pieces of folk art.

    Cafe Racer Style

    Yet, of course, time and fiction have conspired to re-purpose the rocker's style - the matching gleam of leathers and of a Velocette Thruxton Venom or BSA Gold Star, cut by the grime of a smeared face, affords the rider a kudos equaled only by fighter pilots. It lends a decidedly dark, stark masculine cool at that: biker style is supra-fashion, not concerned with fey trends. In reality, come the end of the Sixties, the rockers had faded away - not because of society's disapproval, but chiefly because they had grown up, started families and now needed saloon cars. But their style lived on in mythology, which has kept it revving ever since.

    Josh Sims is a fashion journalist and author of Icons Of Men's Style

  • The Legend of Belstaff

  • Belstaff David Beckham Line.

  • Belstaff and Ewan McGregor

  • Belstaff the Open Road.

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