Sunspel Icons - The Riviera Polo Shirt

Sunspel’s Riviera Polo Shirt made a style icon of Daniel Craig’s James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’ but its story begins in the 1950s with a brilliant piece of fabric innovation.


The Riviera Polo Shirt is the essence of refined style. With a slim, flattering fit, it’s crafted from a lightweight, exceptionally soft Supima cotton mesh that was designed in the 1950s for the heat of the Riviera and it became a modern menswear icon when worn by Daniel Craig’s James Bond in ‘Casino Royale’. Despite its contemporary style, its story is deeply rooted in Sunspel’s rich history of fabric innovation and craftsmanship. 



Sunspel has a long history of pioneering luxury fabrics. The business was founded in 1860 by Thomas Hill to make the highest quality clothing for export to tropical climates. In the early 20th century, we created the world’s first luxury T-shirts using a unique Q82 Sea Island cotton and invented Q14 cellular cotton, a luxurious mesh that drew on our heritage in Nottingham, which was then the lacemaking capital of the world. 

By 1955, Hill’s great-grandsons were running the business with the same spirit of fabric innovation at its heart. That year, while on holiday in the French Riviera, Peter Hill realised that the pique polos commonly worn at the time were unbearably hot and uncomfortable in the heat. He returned to Sunspel’s Long Eaton factory and in a moment of genius, revived the disused lacemaking machines to create a new and unique cotton warp knit mesh. Named Q75, it was based on Sunspel’s original Q14 cellular cotton and was perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate. It remains the defining feature of the Riviera Polo Shirt today.



Fifty years later, Lindy Hemming, an Oscar-winning costume designer, approached Sunspel to dress the new James Bond - Daniel Craig. The task was to bring Bond into the 21st century and the Riviera Polo’s British heritage, unique fabric and contemporary yet timeless style made it the perfect piece. We tailored the Riviera Polo for Craig’s physique, shortening the sleeves and slimming the chest to give a flattering athletic feel and a sharp, clean finish. When worn by Daniel Craig in ‘Casino Royale’, it instantly became an icon. 


We’ve made the Riviera Polo to those specifications ever since. Today it’s crafted from extra-long staple Supima cotton which we select from a single Californian farm. Not only is it cool, breathable and exceptionally smooth against the skin, it’s also highly durable. The Riviera Polo’s flattering, sophisticated fit, meanwhile, makes it a highly versatile summer staple. It can be worn to elevate a casual ensemble by the pool or at the beach but it’s just as well suited to the restaurant or cocktail bar. The refined collar ensures it will hold its own under a jumper or even a jacket. Or you could wear it with a pair of chinos, exactly as Daniel Craig did.