He was first aware of Sunspel when he became a fan of the classic white T-shirts that he’s been wearing for years. So when Paul Weller visited the Sunspel factory in Long Eaton, he was interested in learning more about how the clothes were made. ‘The factory was amazing,’ he says, and had ‘a real family vibe’. ‘It’s like how the clothes feel in a way,’ he continues, ‘they’re cared about and there’s a bit of love put into it.’
What was he looking for when he came up with his designs? ‘I was trying to get them to make stuff that I couldn’t get anywhere, that was the idea,’ he laughs. He made ‘his own little sketches,’ which he says were good enough to give Sunspel’s designers the idea to work from. Describing his collection as ‘very wearable things’ — from T-shirts to polo shirts to a mac and a sharply-cut pair of trousers — Paul says he was fascinated by the colour palette. ‘I’ve got a thing about bottle green,’ he points out, adding that ‘every year I have little sort of fixations on colours, I don’t know why.’
But what does the avatar of Mod style, with its emphasis on precision and sharpness, make of the trend for dressing down? After the photoshoot, he is carefully turned out, with black loafers polished to a high shine. For Paul, ‘every day’s a dressing-up day’, even despite lockdown, though he stresses ‘I don’t dress for other people, it’s for my own satisfaction, really.’ He attributes this to his background. ‘Because I come from that time where the music and the culture and the clothes were all entwined, they all said something about you as a person and defined you as a person as well.’
Weller says that the move to more casual dressing, which he sees worldwide, whether in Paris or Milan or all the fashion capitals, is ‘kind of an alien thing to me, with ‘people wearing trackies or jeans and trainers’. ‘The time I come from, when we were kids, if you went out on Thursday to the local disco, everyone dressed up. It was very much part of the old working-class culture, whatever you didn’t have, you made sure you looked good on a Friday or Saturday night when you went out. I’m sure younger people are doing that now but it’s a much more casual style.’ In that culture, he says, ‘everyone made an effort and precision and detail was of great value and importance.’
Paul Weller looks for quality in his clothes, whether those he’s helped design or others. ‘I like quality, whether furniture, clothes or whatever, quality counts for an awful lot. A shoe or a jacket or a coat, that’s for life if you look after it,’ he observes. That attention to detail and quality was reflected in the creation of his range — for instance, in adjusting the weight of the polo shirt cloth until it was just right.
What does he hope Sunspel wearers will get from his clothes? ‘They’re well-crafted, well-cut clothes and you’ll look good in them, and they’re quality and they’ll last.’ And from the Modfather, you couldn’t ask for more.