Sunspel Icons - The Riviera Polo Shirt

Described as ‘the easiest way to look like James Bond’, Sunspel’s classic Riviera Polo Shirt helped make a style icon of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. But the qualities that make the Riviera so cool – and so luxuriously comfortable – originate in a brilliant piece of 1950s fabric innovation.

Relaxed, contemporary and very British: when James Bond was rebooted for the 21st Century, he wore Sunspel. Casino Royale made a star of Daniel Craig, and turned the classic 1950s Riviera Polo Shirt into a modern wardrobe icon. Suddenly, dressing like Bond became achievable for every man.

As the FT put it, wearing the Riviera is ‘the easiest way to look like 007 without having to wear a tuxedo.’ Crafted from a lightweight, extremely soft Supima cotton mesh and cut for a relaxed, flattering fit, it’s virtually impossible not to look and feel cool in a Sunspel Riviera. That timeless, effortless style made it a perfect choice for the rebooted Bond in 2006. But the origins of the Riviera Polo Shirt go back to the 1950s, and a typically groundbreaking piece of Sunspel fabric innovation.


Sunspel has a long history of pioneering new kinds of durable luxury fabric, precisely engineered for comfort. The unique material that makes the Riviera Polo Shirt so good to wear was invented by Peter Hill, great-grandson of Sunspel’s founder, in 1955.

Holidaying on the French Riviera, he found the traditional polo shirts made from cotton piquet too warm and heavy. So on returning home he recalibrated Sunspel’s lacemaking machines to create something better: a lightweight cotton fabric with a soft, breathable mesh structure. Hill called the fabric Quality 75. And the resulting garment, the Riviera Polo Shirt.


The Riviera remained essentially unchanged for 50 years, until Academy Award-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming had the idea of using it to dress Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. She worked with Sunspel to tailor the shirt for Craig’s physique: shortening the arms, adjusting the chest and slimming the cut for a sharp, clean, flattering fit. The result was a modern menswear icon. As Lindy Hemming put it, styling Daniel Craig in a Sunspel polo was ‘the perfect collaboration of quality and Britishness. He looks very sexy and happy in it.’

We’ve made the Riviera Polo Shirt to those specifications ever since. Today it’s made with the world’s finest Supima cotton which is sustainably farmed in California and can be traced to the exact farm it came from. The cotton’s high quality and extra-long staple make for a fabric that’s not only effortlessly smooth against the skin but one that’s also exceptionally durable too. As a result, it’s still the easiest way for every man to look – and feel – like James Bond and it will be for many years to come too.