Belstaff has tapped Martin Cooper as chief creative officer, a new position at the English outerwear brand, which was acquired by Labelux Group earlier this month with additional investments by Harry Slatkin and Tommy Hilfiger.
This story first appeared in the June 21, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Cooper will play an instrumental role at Belstaff, which the new owners are planning to turn into a global luxury lifestyle brand. Cooper comes to Belstaff with an extensive background in the outerwear category. He was at Burberry Group for 16 years and most recently served as vice president and design director for outerwear. In this role, Cooper worked closely with Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey in London, overseeing design, production, and manufacturing of the brand’s global outerwear. He also played a key role in the launch of Burberry Sport and Art of the Trench.
He will report to Slatkin, who, as reported, became Belstaff’s chief executive officer as part of his investment. Hilfiger serves as a business consultant and member of Belstaff’s advisory team and board.
“Everything is fortuitous,” Slatkin said on Monday. “When I decided to be a part of this brand, Martin was the first person someone introduced me to. I couldn’t dream of a better fit than for Martin to join Belstaff, which is primarily an outerwear business, after 16 years in charge of outerwear for Burberry.”
Slatkin also cited Cooper’s design sensibility coupled with his understanding of the business and manufacturing side as reasons he is suited for the job. “What is so wonderful about the brand that we bought is that it has a great archive,” Slatkin said. “Martin has been at a brand for 16 years and has gone through the transition of taking a brand from its origin and updating it so that it still stays true to its past but current to its environment.”
Cooper, 45, started his career working in the women’s design studio at Calvin Klein Collection before moving to Fairbrooke Enterprises as design director for the licensed Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis Coats business. After living in London for several years, he will now be based in New York.
Belstaff was founded in 1924 with waxed cotton clothes for the motorcycling industry. Labelux, Slatkin and Hilfiger plan to reestablish Belstaff as a luxury lifestyle brand starting with the fall 2012 season.
“Belstaff has a wonderful history and legacy,” Cooper said. “It has incredible potential to be one of the great brands of the world, and I think there is a wonderful synergy between myself and this brand. I specialize in outerwear — it’s been the bulk of my career — and Belstaff has been steeped in the outerwear tradition. I think there is a greater story that can be told at Belstaff.”