The Cold War
By 1960 The British Cold War office was looking to Sunspel for ‘Drawers, Aircrew, Cotton, Short’ for those on the frontline’s of the cold war. In addition Major GH Errington MC c/o the Cavalry Club, Piccadilly requested one dozen one dozen Q14 ‘Sea Island Cotton elastic- waisted trunks’ as a matter of urgency. Comfortable underwear is indeed a matter of urgency.
The innovation of Sunspel’s legendary Q14 ‘Long Staple Pima Cotton in Unique Warp Knit Construction’ was in the works during the 1950′s. The English lacemaking industry was on the decline, but the traditional techniques used by this skilled workforce became the foundation for Q14. In 1958 the fabric was woven on lace machines, eventually sturdier machines were designed specifically for the making of Q14 fabric.
(Q14 Cellular Vest $50 availuable in-store)
The founder of Sunspel came from a lace making background and two generations later it is the technique of lacemaking which is the foundation of an innovative technical fabric by his heirs.
When John finally returned to the family business in the 1960′s he and Peter fell out and in the 1970′s they split the family business into Sunspel Boxer and Sunspel Menswear. The brothers successfully ran the divided family business for decades right across the street from on another before the company was reunited as one. Sadly this was done after the death of John Hill.
In 1985 the Sunspel girl hit the media donned in nothing more than a pair of Sunspel Boxer Shorts.
(Ladies I recommend that get yourself a pair, I call them my sleep shorts)
In the same year that the Sunspel girl hit the imaginations of England’s young lads Nick Kamen stripped down to a pair of White Sunspel Boxer Shorts in an add for Levi’s (see here …seriously, you’ll be glad you did). This lead to several British companies making the boxer short saturating the market which hit Sunspel Boxer.
When John passed in the 1990′s Peter Hill bought the company from John’s son, and the family business was re-united under one company and one name, Sunspel.
Peter Hill ran Sunspel until six years ago when it was purchased by Nicholas Brooke and Dom Hazlehurt. It was important to Peter Hill that the next owner of the company not be someone who would offshore it in an effort to maximize profit at the cost of quality. Although some boxer shorts are made in Turkey and Portugal when their own factory can not keep up with the demand, all of the t-shirts are made in their factory in Long Eaton along with the majority of the collection.
Nicholas came into the business by way of family; his wife’s aunt was Peter Hill’s companion. Rumour has it that the Sunspel girl may have been an influence in his decision.
…Next we will talk about the here and the now, the most exciting part.