From the corners of the British Empire to Repton Boxing club, Sunspel has been providing Englishmen with high-quality undergarments for over 160 years. Now, with J.W Anderson at its creative helm, this historical British brand launches its first womenswear collection.
Summer has finally arrived, and with it the latest range from the suitably named menswear brand Sunspel. Starting operations in 1860, Sunspel, best known for its boxers and basics, has become one of the UK’s most established homegrown labels, winning over the fashion elite with carefully crafted designs that include slim-fitting polo-shirts, Egyptian cotton vests and luxurious wool knits. Placing a strong value on high quality and attention to detail, it would seem inevitable that Sunspel would appeal to both men and women, and for S/S 11 the label has decided to launch a womenswear collection, combining the signature style of its traditional menswear pieces with a contemporary and feminine aesthetic, including elegant slips, polo-shirt dresses and ‘boxer’-style skirts.
Speaking of ‘boxers’, Sunspel has also recently unveiled the beautifully shot film by renowned photographer and regular i-D snapper Alasdair McLellan, following a day in the life of a group of young east-end boxers as they train, eat lunch and “get away from the missus”. i-D Online caught up with Creative Director, J.W Anderson to discuss ideas, inspirations and going back to basics.
What first attracted you Sunspel? A friend gave me Sunspel underwear as a gift and I immediately fell in love with the brand.
How did their signature style appeal to your own design aesthetic? I was initially attracted to the amazing quality of the product. I then learnt more about the heritage of the label, which gives it an authenticity and I have always been obsessed with British manufacturing. When first visiting the factory in Long Eaton I was drawn to the family feel of the team. There is something quite appealing about the combined knowledge and experience of everyone involved in the brand. It is great to be able to work with the people who actually make the product; it gives the designer an amazing connection to the end garments.
As a traditional menswear brand, how do you think Sunspel will appeal to women? It is something that we have always wanted to do. Before the launch of women’s it was something that was continually asked of us by the wives and girlfriends of existing customers. Sunspel has made womenswear in the past, mostly very high quality slip dresses and underwear, and this inspired the womenswear today. The collection also has many elements of menswear, using the same incredible fabrics, but for fit it is designed specifically for a woman.
Who has been your muse for this collection? Joan Didion.
Sunspel has worked with Alasdair McLellan on the film ‘Repton Boxing Club’. How did this collaboration come about? Alasdair was already working with Sunspel before I became involved with the company. It began when Wallpaper magazine asked Alasdair to work on a project with Sunspel, so credit should go to them. I am absolutely thrilled with what Alasdair brings to Sunspel and I think the film is a great insight into the young boxers lives and the Sunspel basics look modern and timeless on them.
What’s inspiring you for next season? The continuing refinement of the white T-shirt, coloured stitching and block colours.