This month has seen the relocation of Belstaff’s Glasgow store from its previous home in Prince’s Square to a new 2175sq ft site on Ingram Street. The move follows the company’s launch of two new stores this year: one in Spitalfields, London, and the other in Residenzstrasse, Munich.
The new lease will last for a decade, at just over £100,000 per annum. It puts them alongside Armani, Gant, Hugo Boss, and several other high-end fashion brands, making this part of the city a hub for fashion-conscious shoppers.
What is Belstaff?
Belstaff provide high-end gillets, knitwear and even quilts, but they built their brand around waxed leather jackets, of the sort favoured by A-listers like George Clooney and David Beckham.
The company first came to be in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1924. The work of Eli Belovitch and his son-in-law, Harry Grosberg, the brand quickly came to be synonymous with cinema style and biking (two things famously united by Steve McQueen’s memorable performance in The Great Escape), along with aviation. Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson were both Belstaff clients, which lends the brand an inarguable coolness.
A different approach to the high-street
This high-end launch contrasts markedly with the fortunes of the high street more generally. In 2018, a report found that fourteen shops a day are closing. More than a thousand stores (that’s net) vanished from the country’s top 500 high streets last year. Moreover, fashion shops bore the brunt of this decline, with 100 of them disappearing altogether.
All of which poses the question: what’s helping Belstaff to buck the trend?
Competing with online stores on price and selection alone was always going to be difficult – and it’s this trend that’s seen the decline in fortunes for high streets across the country. Belstaff take a different approach, offering a shopping experience that can’t be replicated with zeroes and ones.
Like the other stores, the Belstaff branch will offer an instore café, along with locally-sourced furniture and antique pieces that will give the building that little bit of character. There’s an in-house waxing station, where you’ll be able to get your leathers waxed. You can enjoy a caffeine injection, or explore the rest of this burgeoning high-end shopping-hub while you wait.
Why should I visit?
Concept stores, like those pioneered by Belstaff’s new ownership, aim to lure shoppers in by creating an alluring, interesting atmosphere. The company contend that their customers don’t just want to buy jackets: they want to be able to browse the available selection and shelter from the hustle and bustle that characterises the ordinary shopping experience. In the Munich store, the views of the neighbouring Residenzstrasse provide a reason for visiting in-and-of themselves. If the Glasgow store can replicate even a fraction of that character, it’s sure to prove a boon for the street, and for shopping in the city more broadly.