New Brand: Sunspel
Sunspel was founded by Thomas Arthur Hill who was born in 1822, the 11th of 12 children, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. His father, John Pinkerton Hill, was a hosiery maker in Nottingham and Thomas followed his father into the hosiery and lace trade.
The beginning of the Industrial Revolution ushered in the era of steam and the move from cottage industries to the mass production set ups we see today. Thomas Hill was no Luddite and hearlty imbraced the new technology of the era. Thomas Hill was not only one of the great early British industrialists but also a fabric innovator. His vision to create simple, everyday clothing from beautiful fabrics continues to be the Sunspel philosophy to this day.
At the beginning of the 20th century Sunspel built a significant export business across what was then the British Empire and was one of the earliest British companies to export to the Far East. Company records show that a shipment of Sunspel garments due for Hong Kong and China was aboard the N.Y.K Hirano Maru, which was sadly torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat in the Irish Sea in 1918. It was also during this period that Sunspel developed its unique Sea Island cotton fabrics sourced from the West Indies and used in the most luxurious of its products.The near total collapse of world trade after the financial crash of 1929 forced the company to contract. The factory moved from Nottingham to Long Eaton, where it remains today and the business focused on selling its premium line of Sea Island cotton underwear.
The outbreak of war again changed the company’s direction, like many business of the time, driving it temporarily away from luxury products to the production of utility garments for the war effort. Sunspel’s offices in Bruton Street, London, suffered a direct hit during the Blitz.In 1947 John Hill left the post-war gloom of Britain for the glamour of boom time America. Influenced by the ideas and innovations of New York he saw the opportunity to bring the boxer short to the UK. John Hill not only brought the boxer short back from America, he also perfected its design. The first Sunspel boxers were made from Sea Island cotton and designed for comfort. They were cut with a unique back panel (to avoid a middle seam) and all seams were double turned and feldlocked flat to the fabric to avoid itchiness. Sunspel boxers continue to be made in the finest fabrics and to this original pattern.
In 1985 Levis launched their iconic laundrette ad and the boxers they chose for the ad were no other than Sunspel. Almost overnight, men who would once have seen boxer shorts as stuffily old-fashioned were buying boxers in their droves. And ever since, a pair of white cotton Sunspel’s has been the boxer of choice of those in the know
In 2006 Sunspel popped up again in a pop culture icon James Bond. In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig wears several Sunspel shirts. Award winning costume designer, Lindy Hemming, explains why:“I have dressed so many different characters in film and theatre in Sunspel because they are classic, timeless and beautifully made. With Daniel Craig as the new Bond, I thought it would be a perfect collaboration of quality and Britishness to ask Sunspel to create all his t-shirts, polo shirts and underwear. He looks very sexy and happy in their clothing.”
More recently Sunspel has opened five stores in some of London’s most fashionable locations, Shoreditch, Soho, Marlyebone, Piccadilly, and most recently Notting Hill. Home to Sunspel’s largest store to date, the Notting Hill store holds both our menswear and womenswear collections, as well as a selection of exciting collaborations and carefully curated guest brands.
Sunspel is a manufacturer of luxury everyday clothing. It’s what they’ve done since 1860 and remains at the heart of everything they do today. From the very beginning it has been their ambition to make clothes to the highest possible standard and to offer true value.
Being a manufacturer allows them to innovate in textile development. Their famous Q14 cellular fabric was created in 1937. The underwear made from this distinctive looking fabric with the little holes, remains some of their best-selling and best-loved products.
Today, their factory in Long Eaton, where they’ve been based since 1937, remains a vital part of Sunspel. Having their own dedicated team of craftspeople means that their designers can execute their vision in the most exacting and precise manner possible. Their Loopback fabric and sweatshirt were developed here in 2011 and take pride of place as some their greatest recent innovations.
Where appropriate they work with the very best manufacturers overseas in countries such as Turkey or Portugal. They only work with those that have the same values of craftsmanship and quality as they do. Often the processes and techniques for there key garments have been developed in Long Eaton before their manufacturers abroad use them.
Wherever they manufacture, their aim of making luxury everyday clothing remains unchanged. It’s held them in good stead since 1860 and will do so, hopefully, long into the future.
Shop the full Sunspel collection in store and online now at Fat Buddha Store.