‘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 of the British clothing brand’s resilience. In some ways the pandemic presented an opportunity. Sunspel, known for its garments of sophisticated comfort and timeless elegance that form the go-to basis of the modern luxury wardrobe, was able to answer the immediate needs of the WFH community as well as taking a moment to work on its own future design direction.
‘The pandemic blurred the boundaries between loungewear and casualwear and encouraged us to re-evaluate the more formal areas of our collection,’ explains David Telfer, Creative Director, adding that the business would be extending its collection of modern tailoring into 2022.
Sunspel’s founding ethos, its commitment to high quality British-based manufacturing, has undoubtedly been enhanced over the years by its ability to be in tune with the zeitgeist. With control over its own manufacturing – it moved to its Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire factory in 1937 – it can claim full traceability of raw materials and how they are grown and transformed into fabrics.
‘We’ve always had complete transparency in our supply chain, from our British factory back through to the source of our materials,’ explains Nicholas Brooke. ‘Cotton production is water intensive, so we source as sustainably as possible, from suppliers whose infrastructure is in place to minimise water loss and reduce the impact on the local environment.’
Flying the flag not only for ethical manufacturing but also for British artisans, Sunspel’s current winter collection includes knitwear and loungewear crafted by some of Britain’s most skilled traditional makers, and designed with the same expertise that first went into the classic T-shirt. Collection partnerships have been developed with like-minded British factory brands including Walsh trainers, Tricker’s shoes and Lavenham quilted jackets, which demonstrate British contemporary craft, style and quality at their best.
If Sunspel’s place in British cultural history did not already exist in the collective unconscious, the brand has recently engaged in high-profile collaborations that will have helped to cement it. British singer-songwriter Paul Weller, a Sunspel advocate, was invited to launch a capsule collection of staples that he felt were the foundation of his own modern-day wardrobe. He helped to hand-sketch the designs and select the fabrics, and described the collection as ‘well-crafted, well-cut clothes that people will look good in – and such good quality that they’ll also last!’ Meanwhile, film director Pablo Larrain chose Sunspel for being the epitome of classic, understated British tailoring. He dressed Kristen Stewart (playing Diana, Princess of Wales in his movie Spencer) in an off-white merino silk Sunspel rollneck.
As Sunspel moves into 2022 it continues to evolve and grow, speaking to customer passions of the moment with an expanded collection of modern tailoring and an unwavering commitment to British manufacturing tradition and responsible sourcing. With stores in London, Tokyo and New York, and global reach online, this progressive British brand is growing its footprint for at least the next 161 years to come.