Belstaff has always staked its reputation on building things tough. For AW16, the brand is taking the DNA that’s protected bikers from weather and asphalt for almost a century and integrating it into outerwear more suited to Arctic exploration than a razz around Britain’s B-roads. Fitting, since Belstaff’s coats have long seen adventure as integral an ingredient as the hardiest of natural and man-made fabrics.
Before that collection lands, Belstaff bolsters its already impressive adventurer credentials by tapping up the world’s greatest exponent of that art, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, to front its new campaign. The explorer – who on his jaunts to the world’s most inhospitable climates has sacrificed so many appendages to world firsts that he now has to count above 10 from memory – joins stuntman Riley Harper in showcasing just how hardy Belstaff’s clothes are.
“I can’t be sure I have a style, other than dressing for the elements that I’m in,” says Sir Ranulph, when pressed to describe his personal aesthetic. But for a man whose ensembles tend to be geared more towards preserving life than panache, it’s Belstaff’s reputation that attracts. “Its British heritage was certainly a draw factor. And the boots I felt like I could take anywhere, from the desert to the snow.”
Which is perhaps why Rankin, drafted in to shoot the new Worship The Ground campaign, set up Sir Ranulph and Harper on a sheet of glass to bring their footwear to the fore. “Belstaff are a brand all about daring adventures. In two very different ways, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Riley Harper epitomise that,” says Rankin.
“This campaign was all about looking at this from a different perspective, paying homage to the world they’ve explored and made the most of, and the kit that’s got them there. Kit that is built for such adventures but is effortlessly cool, too.”
Although it helps if you’re as go-getting as his two models. “Your look should be authentic,” Rankin adds. “You don’t want to be wearing your rugged biker jacket and, when someone questions you on what bike you ride, you have to tell them you only have an Oyster card.”
Not a problem Harper faces. The 26-year-old grew up around motorbikes, encouraged by father Tom, who earned his crust jumping over things in Hollywood actors’ stead. Harper Jr followed in the family tyre tracks, shooting his first stunt aged seven, and has since appeared in the likes of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, where he donned Christian Bale’s Batsuit to jump a motorbike 60ft across a freeway. Not that he feels that’s prerequisite if you want to slip into one of Belstaff’s bikers.
“Everyone wears them, but most don’t ride bikes,” he laughs. “But Belstaff has really made their motorcycle inspired pants, boots, and jackets well so that anyone could wear them, anytime, and get away with it.”
Harper’s own style, as documented on an Instagram channel, @lifeof_riley, that’s ripe in adrenalin and #nofilter sunsets from Rocky Mountains to Tahitian waves, is less ostentatious than his on-screen exploits might suggest.
“I try to keep my style very simple. Minimal style says more about a person, I think, than something over-the-top.” Although, it of course helps if you can accessorise your jeans and a tee with death-defying feats of derring-do.