There are few items of clothing that can work equally well worn with jeans as they do layered under tailoring. However, since becoming popular in the 1950s – thanks to its evolution from a military undergarment to a civilian classic – a white crew neck T-shirt is now the ubiquitous contemporary wardrobe staple.
With more than a century of expertise, Sunspel began making the earliest forms of T-shirts in England as early as 1908, and has been producing them at its historic Long Eaton factory in the Midlands since 1937. While the design of the classic T-shirt has remained unchanged since the 1950s, there have been some notable fabric developments, as well as the creation of different silhouettes to suit both men and women.
Sunspel has always been dedicated to sourcing the finest raw materials from around the world to create innovative, superlative fabrics that are entirely unique. In the late 1800s, the brand revolutionised the underwear industry, using forward-thinking technology to produce new, luxurious cotton garments such as the simple, lightweight, short-sleeved ‘vests’. The predecessor to the T-shirt, these garments were designed to be comfortable in any climate, and were exported to the Far East and the hottest countries within the British Empire at the time.
Today, Sunspel’s classic crew neck T-shirt is crafted in a sumptuous long staple Supima cotton, and the key element is a unique Sunspel fabric known as Quality 82. To make Q82, only the highest quality long staple Supima cotton fibres are selected. Once combed to remove imperfections, the fibres are twisted together to create a fine, strong thread, which is then passed over a flame, resulting in a luxurious yarn. The fabric is knitted on a circular machine where blowers remove loose fibres for a flawless finish.
The result is a T-shirt that is not only extremely lightweight, soft and comfortable to wear, but it is also durable enough to hold its shape and feel through multiple washes – particularly important for an all-year-round essential that is made to last, and that you will wear over and over again.
Having been immortalised in 1950s Hollywood by teenage rebels such as James Dean and Marlon Brando, it’s no wonder that the Sunspel T-shirt is world renowned, and still worn by modern style icons and movie stars, from David Beckham to Daniel Craig’s Bond.
But, its enduring appeal might also have something to do with Sunspel’s commitment to making clothes with care – from being highly selective about where the brand sources its materials, to the people it works with, and the quality of everything it produces. The very antithesis of ‘fast fashion’, Sunspel has always aimed to make products of lasting quality and timeless design, and its white T-shirt isn’t going to go out of style anytime soon.