Belstaff's Creative Director Delphine Ninous on Sophnet collaboration
Belstaff has been in business since 1924. That's nearly a century of making exceptional outerwear with its roots in the early days of English motorsports. But it's only recently that the brand has branched out to become a modern-day luxury outfit—never stepping away from its utilitarian heritage, but with a new emphasis on creating the kind of clothing and accessories that appeal to the modern guy who may never have climbed on a motorcycle in his life. (Not that you have to ride one to appreciate the brand's iconic Roadmaster jacket.)
The latest step in Belstaff's move towards capturing a greater share of your closet: a collaboration with Japanese streetwear brand SOPHNET. From supple leather biker jackets and camo riffs on the Roadmaster, to paneled sweats and even sneakers, the capsule collection takes Belstaff's sensibilities and infuses them with SOPHNET's take on modern urban living. We chatted with Belstaff creative director Delphine Ninous to learn how it all came together.
On working with SOPHNET:
We were about to launch our business in Asia, specifically Japan, and the opportunity with SOPHNET was presented to us. We knew the brand had a strong reputation in Japan, and it seemed like a great way for Belstaff to gain awareness in this market, especially within the competitive streetwear market. It was great to find out that Mr. Kiyonaga, the founder of SOPHNET, was a fan of Belstaff, having been introduced to the brand many years ago. The collaboration grew from there.
On the shared DNA between the two brands:
SOPHNET focuses on street-inspired daily wear with functionality. Belstaff at its core has always been about functionality—it's why the bikers adopted the brand in the '50s and '60s. So we both shared this concept. We knew the Japanese market would appreciate the heritage of the Belstaff brand and the craftsmanship within the product, however we wanted to also appeal to the younger, more urban customer. Through the SOPHNET collaboration they have been able to take classic Belstaff silhouettes and put their spin on it to appeal to a new customer. We gave them full access to our archives and usage of the British camo woodland print which features throughout.
On which pieces to wear now:
Many pieces in the collection are trans-seasonal so it's a good time to launch the collection now as we go from summer to autumn. The camo Roadmaster, for example, is a great trans-seasonal piece as it's wind and rain resistant, but also lightweight. The casual jersey pieces are great for travel and everyday life. We also added the winter parka style to this collection, which is a good investment piece for winter as everyone begins thinking of the cold weather.
On keeping Belstaff relevant through collaboration:
We wanted to show a new generation the evolution of the Belstaff brand. Part of my challenge as the creative director, now overseeing men's and women's, is to always respect the heritage of the brand but to keep it modern and interesting. SOPHNET helps to keep the collection authentic and appealing to the modern, younger, urban man. We know the more casual aesthetic is more accepted today, and the tracksuit and hoodie are a key wardrobe staples, so it was great SOPHNET reworked that, in addition to our classic four-pocket jacket and the café racer-style leather jacket. The bold prints and logos keep them feeling contemporary.