We'll hazard a guess that in any man's list of style icons, 007 will feature near the top. James Bond is one of Britian's most successful cultural exports thanks to one of the longest-running movie franchises in history.
The super-spy, created by novelist Ian Fleming, is a stickler for style in the books and on screen. Over the years, this has been reflected in his film wardrobe, which has mirrored the times: Sean Connery's tailored suits and ties are pure 1960s, while Roger Moore's safari jackets and flares signify the look of the 1970s.
Casino Royale of 2006 is arguably the first real Bond film of the 21st century, as it introduced Daniel Craig as the latest incarnation of 007. The costume designer, Academy Award-winner Lindy Hemming, was charged with rebooting the hero for a new generation. For this, she turned to Sunspel: "There have been so many different characters in film and theatre that I have dressed in Sunspel vests, T-shirts and underwear because they are classic, timeless and beautifully made," she explains.
"Dressing Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, I thought that it would be a perfect collaboration of quality and Britishness to ask Sunspel to create all his T-shirts, polo shirts and underwear, which they duly did so excellently. He looks very sexy and happy in their clothing."
- Lindy Hemming, Costume Designer for Casino Royale
The Riviera Polo Shirt
Tailored for Daniel Craig as James Bond
Rather than simply dress 007 in Sunspel out of the box, Hemming went one stage further. There was one style in particular that she wanted to specifically tailor to Craig, to showcase his physique: the Riviera Polo Shirt. This garment in fact, originates in the 1950s as a result of another Englishman's experience of the jet-set lifestyle. Peter Hill was the grandson of Sunspel's founder, and was in the habit of holidaying on the French Riviera, he liked the idea of wearing polo shirts in the warm weather.
However, Hill found the traditional piqué style too hot and uncomfortable. So, using technology local to Sunspel - lace-making machines in Nottingham - he developed a lightweight mesh that was cool and pleasant to wear, Quality 75 (Q75) as it is known to this day at Sunspel is breathable, comfortable, and holds its shape. Hill employed it in a new design for the company, the Riviera Polo Shirt.
This style was known to wardrobe designer Lindy Hemming. But it had remained essentially, unchanged for 50 years and for Casino Royale, she had the idea to update it based on Daniel Craig's silhouette. Hemming shortened the arms a little and adjusted the chest, slimming the cut to make the shirt fit in a more tailored way. The result was sharp and clean, making the Riviera Polo Shirt extremely versatile; a wardrobe staple that can do service in both a weekend and a professional context.
Sunspel was so pleased with the new James Bond version of its old classic that it decided to adopt it. Today, the Sunspel Riviera Polo Shirt, which comes in a variety of colours, has a slim and flattering fit care of Lindy Hemming and Daniel Craig. Arguably it's the easiest way to like 007 without having to wear a tuxedo.