British Label Sunspel Is Expanding Rapidly, Opening Its Third U.S. Store in a Year in L.A.

Sunspel opened the doors to its second California outpost on a day that seemed appropriate for its name. It was very sunny with balmy temperatures.

The 850-square-foot venue in the hip Silver Lake area of Los Angeles is carrying the brand’s full menswear line, including T-shirts made in England and the famous Riviera Polo shirt worn by Daniel Craig in the James Bond movie “Casino Royale.”  The store’s merchandise includes luxury casualwear, underwear and swimwear that fits in well with the California vibe. Womenswear will be added soon.

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On hand for the retail outpost’s opening was Raul Verdicchi, the British company’s relatively new chief executive who came on board last August. He succeeded Nicholas Brooke, who in 2005 acquired Sunspel with Dominic Hazlehurst from the descendants of the brand’s founder. Brooke stays on as executive chairman.

Since becoming CEO, Verdicchi has been overseeing Sunspel’s latest retail expansion in the United States, which is the company’s second-largest market with the help of accounts like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and a number of small, independent stores. Last year, a Sunspel store opened on Madison Avenue in New York City as well as the label’s first West Coast store, debuting in December in the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur, Calif., near San Francisco.

“We are actually looking for another opportunity to open a store this year in California, but we are in early stages,” Verdicchi said. “Our first priority now is to make all these recent openings successful and develop a loyal customer base.”

Inside the new Sunspel store. Photo courtesy: Sunspel
Inside the new Sunspel store. Photo courtesy: Sunspel

Sunspel chose Silver Lake, whose residents tend to work in creative industries, because of the neighborhood feel found in the area with trendy coffee shops, used clothing boutiques and several luxury brand stores including A.P.C. and Buck Mason.

“We are a brand that opens where there is a sense of community in terms of retail spaces that are different, not just the typical high-street luxury brands. You can see that in our London stores and in northern California at the Marin Country Mart,” the Sunspel CEO said. “Silver Lake is where we also see a lot of new projects being done. There is a large residential development going up across the street.”

Sunspel’s largest collection of retail outposts is in the United Kingdom where it has nine stores. The label has a long history of making goods and still manufactures T-shirts at its Long Eaton factory established in England in 1937 and employs 30 workers.

About 40 percent of Sunspel’s clothing is made in the U.K. and the rest is manufactured in Portugal. High quality Supima cotton from California is one of the label’s key ingredients as well as a rare Sea Island cotton grown in the Caribbean.

The steeped-in-all-things English label was founded in 1860 by Thomas A. Hill, who manufactured high-quality underwear and later branched out to T-shirts, boxer shorts and casualwear. For years, Sunspel made primarily menswear and is best known for its T-shirts, boxer shorts and polo shirts.

Later, Sunspel added womenswear, developing essentials including sweaters, shirts, T-shirts, trousers, vests, underwear and accessories.

The company gained a small claim to fame in 2006 when costume designer Lindy Hemming approached it about tailoring a Riviera polo shirt to fit Daniel Craig when he was portraying James Bond in the “Casino Royale” movie. The Riviera polo shirt is still a popular, classic piece that sells well.

The new L.A. Sunspel store, inside an old Art Deco brick building, is located at 3312 West Sunset Boulevard.


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