The understated icon
From the world’s earliest T-shirts and polo shirts, Sunspel classics have taken centre stage in movies, commercials and beyond
The Sunspel label is a true one-off, so much so that its designs have become the clothing of cultural icons – a tangible indication of the quality woven into the company’s DNA. “Fashion trends have come and gone but Sunspel has remained true to its founding ethos for 161 years, through two world wars, the shift to fast fashion and a global pandemic,” says CEO Nicholas Brooke, who acquired the business in 2005.
Thomas Hill’s founding vision in 1860 was to create garments known throughout the fashion and textile industry for supreme comfort, timeless elegance and relaxed tailoring; designed and manufactured in Britain from Sunspel’s own finely woven fabric. The journey from Sunspel’s origins to its present-day status is evident in its collections and collaborations. Its pinnacle white T-shirt, made from prized sea-island cotton, is a luxury wardrobe staple and its heritage dates back to 1908. The crisp boxer shorts worn by Nick Kamen in the classic 1985 Levi’s advert were Sunspel, and Daniel Craig’s James Bond wore Sunspel’s Riviera Polo Shirt in the 2006 film Casino Royale. The remarkable partnerships have continued with the likes of musician Paul Weller, brand Comme des Garçons and designer Christophe Lemaire. “Our collaborations are the result of a shared passion for craft, style and quality,” says Nicholas.
Sunspel’s commitment to quality has consistently encompassed responsible sourcing and innovative manufacturing techniques to create ethical and durable garments – processes that are receiving renewed recognition in today’s environmentally conscious culture. “We have always had complete transparency in our supply chain, from our British factory through to the source of our materials,” Nicholas explains. “Cotton production is water-intensive, so we source as sustainably as possible, from suppliers where the infrastructure is in place to minimise water loss and reduce the impact on the local environment.”
Sunspel now has a global reach online, as well as through luxury retailers and the brand’s own stores in London, Tokyo and New York, so that customers all over the world can experience the unique feel and fit of the brand’s clothing and underwear. Since its inception, Sunspel has transcended trends, to achieve the almost impossible: to be timeless yet contemporary, both symbolic and pioneering; to simply be, and yet to become something more. The brand’s iconic status is assured.