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Sunspel Celebrates 80 Years of British Manufacturing with its 1937 Collection
Simplicity is a quality that is often underrated, but has been at the core of Sunspel’s philosophy for over a century. And while trends come and go, much like seasonal return of the oversized shoulder or the seventies flared trouser, each time in slightly different iterations, Sunspel capitalises on the importance of simplicity. A unique kind of focus on simplicity that has carried the brand through two world wars, the great depression, and transcended a century of change.
Sunspel was founded in 1860 by Thomas Arthur Hill, a fabric innovator and early British industrialist. Throughout those pioneering years, Sunspel had been at the centre of the thriving British textile industry, taking leaps into the future of garment manufacturing. Leaps such as introducing the boxer short to Britain, or becoming one of the first British companies to build an export business in the West Indies. After the stock market crash of 1929, Sunspel moved its factory from Nottingham to Long Eaton where it remains to this day. It is timely then, that in post-Brexit 2017, that Sunspel once again takes leaps towards the future of British manufacturing — working in collaboration with the first British Cotton Mill opened in the last fifty years, to create their commemorative 1937 Collection.
In celebration of the 80th anniversary of their Long Eaton Factory, Sunspel digs deep into their archives for a commemorative capsule that celebrates not only the brand’s heritage, but also Britain’s manufacturing heritage. Working together with the Manchester based Mill, Sunspel have developed the limited edition 1937 Collection that is spun in Manchester, knitted in Leicester, and made in Long Eaton. The menswear collection comprises of a one panel t-shirt that is constructed without shoulder seams, and a reconstructed Henley featuring mother of pearl buttons and a woven placket. For womenswear, the collection features a camisole and French knicker, decorated with delicate scalloped edging, all in the muted tones of navy blue and archive white. The collection, while looking undeniably modern, utilises the time-honoured construction techniques of the British manufacturing industry — a testament to the steadfast quality of Sunspel’s design philosophy.
In addition to this, Sunspel have also transformed their Marylebone boutique into a special exhibition that invites visitors to traverse the rich and colourful history of the brand. As you walk into the bright and airy expanse of their boutique, you are greeted by their archival garments hanging on the walls like specimens taken from a forgotten age. Soon it becomes hard to distinguish the archives from the new 1937 Collection. From historical documents and artefacts, to mementos taken from their exploits into the Far East; the exhibition not only gives us a tiny glimpse of the past, but also highlights the timeless vision of Thomas Arthur Hill. A vision that, after more than one hundred years, has proven the contemporary appeal of timelessness and the enduring quality of a truly great t-shirt.
The Limited Edition 1937 collection is available in exclusively in Sunspel stores and online on . The special exhibition in Sunspel Marylebone will run until the 17th of November.
Words by Hannah Tan
Images Courtesy of Sunspel