THE POLO SHIRT

First developed in the 1950s and later tailored for Daniel Craig in his role as 007, our signature Riviera is a true James Bond Polo Shirt. Since then, it has become a modern classic. The fit is precise, the details are refined and the fabric is remarkably soft; striking the smart-casual balance with ease.

Sunspel-Riviera-Polo-Shirt-James-Bond

The polo shirt as we know it today made its debut at the US Open in 1929. The short-sleeved shirt was the brainchild of tennis superstar Rene Lacoste and was made from a lightweight pique cotton jersey. It featured a three button placket and a soft collar that was just stiff enough to be turned up to protect the neck from the hot summer sun. Before this revolutionary moment, tennis players had been forced to wear buttoned-up shirts with long sleeves that were perpetually rolled-up; an indication of just how uncomfortable and restrictive these garments were.

This modern polo shirt struck the all too elusive balance of being both comfortable and smart, and Lacoste soon spotted a business opportunity. Partnering with American manufacturer Andre Gillier in the 1930s, the pair put the modern tennis shirt into mass production. It was at this point that the polo shirt became the uniform for all competing tennis players. Seeing it’s obvious benefits, it wasn’t long before it was also adopted by polo players and golfers alike.

In the years that followed, the polo shirt transitioned to the streets. Favoured for its informal take on the classic shirt, it came to symbolise the emerging youth quake’, and was just as popular with London’s Mods, as it was with the East Coast American set. Testament to the near universal appeal of the garment, by the late 1960s it had even been adopted by heads of state on their downtime, with Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy both known advocates.

Since we began making polo shirts in the 1950s, we have always focused on combining a refined fit with unparalleled comfort. Finding the pique cotton that the modern tennis shirts were made of stifling, Peter Hill, the grandson of Sunspel’s founder, set about developing a fabric that would be cool and comfortable to wear in the hot summer sun of the Riviera. The result was a cotton mesh that was not only light, but also breathable and supremely soft. It was knitted on lace machines in Nottingham, the home of England’s lace-making industry, and was named Q (for Quality) 75. The Riviera polo was born.

It remained unchanged from its inception, right up until 2006, when Academy award-winning costume designer, Lindy Hemming, was tasked with outfitting Daniel Craig as the Bond character in Casino Royale. Working from our factory in Long Eaton, together we tailored the Riviera Polo to best suit the modern man of action and style: shortening the arms ever so slightly, and slimming the fit to flatter a muscular physique.

We have made our Riviera polo shirt to these amended specifications ever since. We firmly believe it’s the best polo shirt in the world – and we can’t wait for you to try it. A modern classic in its own right, wear with chinos or jeans for the epitome of relaxed style.

SHOP MEN’S POLO SHIRTS