Sunspel and Mesh

Mesh is in at the moment. From loose-knit polos to vests or chunkier knitwear, it’s everywhere and it’s easy to see why. Mesh fabrics are lighter-weight and more breathable than other fabrics making them ideal for the warmth of summer. Fortunately for Sunspel, we’ve had a 160-year head start.

Our relationship with mesh goes back to 1860. We were originally founded in Nottingham, then the world capital of the lace and hosiery industry, and our founder Thomas Hill was a pioneer of luxury underwear and fabric design. He used his lace-making expertise to develop exceptionally comfortable fabrics using the world’s highest-quality natural materials.


Mesh design and fabric swatch from our archive Q14 cellular knit cotton underwear


Many of these were mesh-like fabrics made on repurposed warp-knitting machines originally used for making lace. In 1914 for example, we introduced cellular cotton underwear. Crafted from a loose, extra-long staple cotton knit, it was designed to wick moisture away from the skin, making a smooth, cool underwear fabric. 60 years later it was a favourite of Christopher from the Sopranos and it’s still a crucial part of our range today.

Our most popular mesh fabric today is our Q75 Supima cotton mesh that’s used for our Riviera Polo Shirt. It was originally developed in the 1950s by Thomas Hill’s great-grandson Peter. He found the pique fabrics common in polo shirts too hot and stodgy so recalibrated the warp knitting machines to create a cooler, more comfortable alternative. In 2006, award-winning designer Lindy Hemming tailored our Riviera Polo Shirt for Daniel Craig in his debut performance of James Bond. It’s been a modern classic ever since. Today, we use Hill’s Q75 fabric for several products.

Riviera Polo Pattern Pieces Q75 Supima cotton Mesh, Riviera Polo Shirt


Our archive is full of examples of meshes, drawings and fabric swatches. Recently we’ve used these to develop new fabrics, working with the finest cotton to ensure each piece is as high quality as possible. Our recent collaboration with MR PORTER for example was inspired by our mesh heritage and this season’s textured knit polo shirts are another example.

If you’re looking to jump on the mesh trend, don’t look further than Sunspel.