Traditional Men’s and Women’s Clothing founded in 1860.
View Sunspel fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
A Timeline of the Sunspel brand
Since its foundation in 1860, Sunspel have been producing high quality clothing, and throughout their history, have been innovators in the manufacturing of undergarments and T-Shirts – experimenting with new styles, fabrics and knitting techniques. In 1947, Sunspel were responsible for introducing the ‘boxer short’ to the UK. Shortly after in the 1950’s, they produced the first fine mesh underwear, allowing for warmth in winter and ventilation in the summer. One individual who surely appreciates the warming properties of the quality underwear is British explorer, Ben Saunders, who undertook a solo mission to the North Pole in March, 2011. Sunspel provided Ben with custom-made merino wool thermal underwear to keep him warm at temperatures reaching as low as 50 degrees centigrade.
Sunspel Factory – Derbyshire, England
In today’s era where disposable cheap clothing dominates fashion high streets, Sunspel still hand makes its clothing with meticulous care and attention. Each garment is known to be extremely long lasting, as no corners are cut in the manufacturing process. Sunspel continue to develop their own custom fabrications by sourcing the finest cottons such as Long Staple Egyptian Cotton and creating unique fabric structures. In doing so, they are able to make comfort clothing that is well designed, well constructed and tailored to fit.
- 1860: Sunspel is founded as Thomas A. Hill Ltd as a manufacturer of various textile products. The company imported its cotton from the West Indies before spinning and knitting it in England. China is their largest export market.
- 1932: Thomas A. Hill becomes Sea Island Textiles Ltd. The brand focuses on the home (UK) market when export markets collapse following the depression and war in the Far East.
- 1937: The Company is once again renamed, this time as Sunspel and moves to its current location in Long Eaton, Derbyshire.
- 1947: Sunspel introduces the boxer short to the UK following a trip by John Hill to America.
- 1952: Sunspel invents the first fine mesh cotton underwear fabric that is breathable in warm climes and retains warmth in colder weather, and names it Q14.
- 1985: Sunspel underwear is featured in the iconic Levis Laundromat-set advert.
- 2005: Peter Hill, great-grandson of the company’s founder, retires and Sunspel is bought by Nick Brook and Dom Hazlehurt, with the aim to rejuvenate the brand. The product packaging and brand marketing is updated and the styling and cuts are made more contemporary.
- 2006: Sunspel features in the James Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’ as worn by Daniel Craig. Additionally, Sunspel collaborates with Paul Smith, Harrods, Richard James and Thom Browne.
- 2007: Sunspel exhibit, for the first time since the 1970’s, at leading menswear show Pitti Uomo in Florence. Also this year, Sunspel Co-brands with Kris van Assche, and the Sunspel e-commerce website is launched selling polo shirts, t-shirts and underwear.
- 2008: Sunspel co-brands with New York designer, Bergdorff Goodman. The brand expands to become stocked in further UK boutique outlets including: Liberty, Aspecto and Sefton to complement larger stockists such as Selfridges and Harrods where Sunspel has been available for many years.
- 2009: The website is re-launched with an extended line of T-shirts and polo shirts.
- 2010: Sunspel celebrates 150 years in fashion. JW Anderson is appointed as the brands fashion director and introduces a womenswear range. The first stand alone Sunspel store opens in London’s Shoreditch.
- 2011: JW Anderson’s first Sunspel collection – a capsule wardrobe of pieces that combine the preppy with the sporty.
Famous Fashion: Sunspel’s Brushes with Fame
“There have been many characters I have dressed in Sunspel vests, t-shirts and underwear because they are classic, timeless and beautifully made.”
Lindy Heming, Academy Award winning costume designer.
Sunspel is no stranger to fame appearing on many of the world’s biggest stars in some of the recent biggest box office hits. Their first brush with fame came in 1985 when model, Nick Kamen removed his jeans in the Levi’s ‘launderette’ advert to reveal Sunspel boxer shorts. A move to the big screen came with the release of the movie Quantum of Solace in which a classic Sunspel polo is worn by James Bond (Daniel Craig) himself. This was followed by a showing in Batman in The Dark Knight, with the bespoke t-shirts made for Christian Bale. Additionally, Sunspel provided long-johns and t-shirts for Tom Cruise in the World War II movie Valkyrie.
Sunspel have also been involved with the music industry working with Charlie Watts’ stylist to provide bespoke, tailored t-shirts for Rolling Stones European tour. T-shirts on each leg of the tour referenced the colours of the national football team. Sunspel have also made t-shirts, polo shirts for Pretty Green, Liam Gallagher’s new label.
Future of the Sunspel label
In the future for Sunspel, expect considerable growth, with expansion of new and innovative fabrics for basics. Quality British basics are synonymous with Sunspel and the brand is continuing to expand into new product categories such as chinos, shirting and shoes. There are also plans for new stand alone stores and stockists to make Sunspel recognisable to a wider audience.
To read more about the Sunspel fashion label, visit the official website here.