Friday, March 15, 2013


From WWD (Women's Wear Daily), possibly the best source of revamped motorcycle brand information on the planet!  Remember that Kate Moss was among the first models hired by the Malenottis to launch their Belstaff brand.

Kate Moss, a Matchless G9 twin, another model, and photographer Terry Richardson
"MATCHLESS MAKER: Matchless, one of Britain’s oldest motorcycle brands, is set to launch men’s and women’s outerwear collections in June — and the face of its fall/winter ad campaign is Kate Moss. Terry Richardson shot the black-and-white campaign at MC Motors, a former warehouse in London’s Hackney. Moss is pictured on a Matchless motorbike along with fellow model Andre Van Noord. The ads will break in June issues of “top-tier” titles, according to the company, which is still finalizing its media plans.
Kate Moss posing on a Matchless G9 twin, in a Matchless-brand jacket, with superstar photographer Terry Richardson.  Photo by Courtesy
“We are delighted to be working with Kate Moss on this first Matchless advertising campaign of this new era of the brand,” said Michele Malenotti, a member of the Matchless board, and the company’s marketing and business expansion director. “The campaign reflects the heritage of the brand, which we are excited about sharing with Matchless enthusiasts and consumers alike.”
Kate Moss for Belstaff.  I don't think Kate rides, but she ought to!
The brand makes leather and washed cotton jackets both for motorcycle enthusiasts, and for those who get their thrills looking hip on city streets. Prices range from 900 pounds to 1,300 pounds, or $1,340 to $1,940, for leather jackets, and from 600 pounds to 900 pounds, or $890 to $1,340, for washed cotton ones. All figures have been converted at current exchange. WWD reported in February [as did The Vintagent - read it here] that brothers Manuele and Michele Malenotti, the former owners of Belstaff, have taken control of Matchless. The passion for bikes runs in the family, as their father Franco Malenotti, founder of the family business Clothing Company, is an avid motorcycle fan. In 2011, Labelux Group bought Belstaff, known for its waxed cotton biker gear, and has been relaunching and expanding the brand globally.
In the current wave of celeb moto-gear, we present the revamped Velocette clothing line...just kidding!  Nice Venom; Ewan MacGregor for Salvatore Ferragamo; Ewan has a tasty collection of vintage motorcycles.  Will he be photographed wearing Matchless soon?  
Henry Collier, a design-engineer, entrepreneur, and winning rider, and his brothers founded Matchless Motorcycles in 1899.

 - story by Samantha Conti"


LBrooke said...

'Henry' Collier, eh? Written by somebody who doesn't know a G-50 from gee whiz. And the family who claim to have acquired the Matchless rights haven't a clue about what it takes to tool up, produce, and validate a passenger peg, let alone build and sell complete bikes. We Vintagent readers know where this is headed. With this venture the Malenottis join the club of poseurs, shysters, and charletans (most recently the Hanson brothers and Stuart Garner) who claim to be resurrecting classic motorcycle brands but really are just purveyors of mostly Asia-sourced-and-overpriced clothing.

"Wearing Matchless?" Puuuleeez, Paul!

-LBrooke, in memory of bona fide motorcycle manufacturers Harry and Charles Collier. Belstaff owner since 1974.

The Vintagent said...

Lindsay, my erudite friend...

When you've purchased a 'brand', and can't put the correct name of the company founder on your press release, I do indeed think there's a problem. By this action, the new 'Matchless' brand displays clearly that the history of the Matchless marque is completely irrelevant to their venture.

The Malenottis claim they will build 'a few' motorcycles as showpieces for the Matchless brand. You are absolutely correct that they don't know the first thing about actually making a motorcycle, as they have never actually done so, nor do they intend to - the 'Matchless' motorcycles they will 'build' will be rebranded somethingorothers, customized with a flying 'M'.

That said, even if the purchaser of a venerable name - say, Indian - actually DO know how to make a motorcycle - say, Polaris - there is still absolutely no connection beyond the mantra of that name - 'Indian', 'Matchless' - to the historic brand. That's simply a fact; what's dead is dead, and no 'DNA' magic will revive the dead. Let us grieve a moment over our beers the loss of once beloved marques, now gone. I weep that decades of earnest creativity and problem solving, noble deeds and stirring victories, should be reduced to a discounted, saleable commodity. But, this is the lesson of Ozymandias; we are but stardust, and to dust we return.

What we have in the 21st Century, rather than talented motorcycle rider/designer/racers establishing a brand (as did the Collier brothers, Harry and Charlie, with Matchless), is a wave of slick marketeers, using celebrity models and talented fashion designers, to create an attractive 'aura' using a compelling old logo. I have no doubt Paterfamilias Malenotti loves his vintage bikes, but his actual business is making money. There is no money in vintage bikes, or in making motorcycles frankly, unless you have a total commitment and many millions to play with, a lá John Bloor and Triumph. The Malenottis are not interested in making new motorcycles, they are business people sensibly choosing to revive the charismatic dead as a clothing company.

If they start making motorcycles 'for real' they're fools, and if they only use the brand to make clothing, they're vultures. It's a no-win situation, yet they've proven able to make tens of millions of euros from the game, as per their Belstaff venture. This is modern capitalism.

Your attachment to a dead brand, and to its noble history, is, in the eyes of Capital, merely sentimental. I understand your sentiment, and mark the reality we see today; the Italian economy is in a difficult state, and the money generated by a successful Italian clothing business will benefit hundreds if not thousands of people. This is real life; an outrage to romantics like ourselves, but an income to the humble people who will make and sell the clothing in question.

I breathe into that place in my heart which hurts, and carry on in the present.

yours sincerely, P d'Orleans

fuque said...

What? You dare to doubt that the Mexican snowmobile manufacturer can build a motorcycle to compare favourably with the Indian four? You're right, what's dead is dead. I was in the Yamaha shop the other day and all the bikes were so huge and not c.c.'s. Only a couple of air cooled bikes out of fifty bikes there. And I ride an old FLH that were always considered to be a garbage barge.

LBrooke said...

Paul, you'll look smashing in their new line of G-3L olive-drab scarves! Can't wait to see Kate's photo shoot on the Dunkirk beach.

While a genuine motorcycle brand named 'Bloor' wouldn't have had a chance, I reckon a clothing brand called 'Malenotti' would be sustainable on its own. Leave the MC brand resurrections for serious capital investments by serious OEMs (Polaris, etc.), I say.

Don't you think they picked Matchless because it does double duty--as an adjective as well as a bit of moderately relevant motorcycle history? I mean, AJS wouldn't do the job...

Donning my 'Duesenberg' cashmere sweater and 'Pierce-Arrow' trousers for today's biz meeting....


David said...

Really think that the Malenotti family are doing a wonderful job!
They are relaunching globally the image of a forgotten brand!What a brillant and humble idea!
This is great!Thanks to them the Mith reborn and come back better than before.
Also read on google that they are working on the motorcycles project and it looks really interesting.
Congratulations and good luck to them!

LBrooke said...

David, Matchless motorcycles were never a myth! For a clothing marketer to bring the "Flying M" back to a level that is "better than before" would truly be a feat eclipsing both Ducati's and Triumph's resurrections. But that ain't gonna happen. The clothes may be nice, however--perhaps even matchless...

GuitarSlinger said...

Well I'll play Devil's Advocate and say this about the ' new ' Matchless ' as well as Belstaff " brands " ( as thats all they are at this point ..... marketing brands )

The design , cloths and accessories ..... are fine . Not by any means ground breaking , original or even good ... but fine . Derivative and Pastiche would not be an unwarranted description

The prices though ? Absolutely ludicrous . Anyone willing to pay that much for that little personifies the adage " A fool and his/her money are soon parted "

To be honest ... and perhaps I am reveling myself as a bit of a luddite and out of touch with the' No Brow' zeitgeist we're immersed in .... but I've just about had it up to here with Marketing/Myth hype and hyperbole : which is all this Matchless schtick is .

It'd be nice just once to see a company come forward with some reality in hand to sell ... rather than just another round of over priced fluff to dump on the non discerning : and most often more money than brains consumers

This should not in any way shape or form imply that I cannot afford the price of entry on this ' branded ' junk being dumped in our laps : it wouldn't even be an effort to do so .. perhaps its age ... perhaps its wisdom .. but I've gotten to the point where I'll no longer pay $100 for a $10 box in pretty wrapping paper with a brand logo stuck on it . Which ... in realty is all this stuff is . Take the Matchless logo off .. put it in a store as is ... and $200 - 500 would be more like it

In closing since you mentioned it Paul . The ( cough ) 'new ' Polaris Indian . At best an insult to our intelligence . At worst perhaps the greatest M/C con job of the decade .

Hairy Larry said...

In the local HotRod shop saw some 'Von Dutch' branded schlock....oh well.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean my 1953 G9 will suddenly be worth tens of thousands? No. It means that I will no longer be able to afford anything with the Matchless logo on that I love. How disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Clearly proper copyright enforcement actions will clean up all these blogs which really are little more than nattering nabobs of negativism.

If one can't monetize a fine name, then what else should one do? The days are long past when people made and sold useful things. The leverage of a few dollars invested in intellectual property and overseas contact manufacturing are something that any self respecting MBA knows.

I recommend the fine folks at Prenda Law.

Mo Walrus said...

The Malenotti family ARE building some real nice new Matchless bikes! They are associated with ex-Aprilia folks who know a heck of a lot about manufacturing bikes.
Remember that both the Malenottis and Aprilia are from the Veneto area, and Aprilia has been absorbed by Piaggio, which leaves some talented people free to start a new manufacturing venture.
Making a new Matchless is not too difficult: engine made by Rotax in Austria (an old supplier of Aprilia and many others, they have so many engine configurations with all the bugs worked out - just need to create new aesthetics of the engine)a. The rest of components come from the fantastic Italian component industry. All of this is assembled in London and it is a great genuine Matchless Made In England!! best wishes to them!