Introducing: Sunspel x Royal Academy



What is it about one colour that’s so utterly different from another? How do colours affect our moods? Colour is a mysterious thing. But it also obeys rational principles.

At Sunspel we are fascinated and obsessed by colour. Over time a few colours stay the same: navy blue will always be a core staple. But most change. Every seasonal range has its own signature colour palette, which establishes a unique mood that runs through the entire collection.

So when we had the chance to collaborate with the Royal Academy on the occasion of its 250th anniversary, colour got our attention. One of the most striking and historically important works in the Royal Academy’s collection is an 18th century colour wheel.



The Natural System of Colours and is only 10 pages long, but it had a dramatic influence on British culture. Its author, Moses Harris, was an entomologist – an insect expert – who illustrated his works with beautiful, hand-coloured engravings. While systematically studying insects, he began systematically studying colour too. He noticed that he could create many paint colours from just three: red, yellow and blue. He noticed further that the spectrum of colours he was able to create not only seemed to contain all perceivable colours. It also connected back onto itself, forming a circle rather than a line. Hence the wheel.


To celebrate the RA’s anniversary we created a small collection of T-Shirts, each made in a subtle and precise colour taken from Moses Harris’s famous ‘prismatic’ colour wheel. For this Prismatic Collection, we took great care to match six fabric colours to the purity and consistency of the original tones in the colour wheel. The T-Shirts are made in England at our factory in Long Eaton, Derbyshire – the same place we make our best English T-Shirts.




The Royal Academy is an independent, privately funded arts charity, not a publicly-funded one, and the proceeds from the T-Shirts will go towards supporting its internationally acclaimed exhibition programme and RA Schools.

Our six T-Shirt colours are a tribute to the delicacy with which Moses Harris captured colour in watercolour, and to his rational exploration of the principles of colour.

Here at Sunspel, we know and celebrate a fellow colour obsessive when we see one.