Our Approach

Much has changed since Sunspel began work more than 160 years ago – but what drives our business has not. It can be summed up in a few simple words: do things as well as possible and do the right thing. We have an unrelenting commitment to exceptional quality materials, constant improvement and innovation, and the very best craftsmanship. You will find these values woven into the fabric of our business, shaping every decision we make.

Quality applies to every aspect of how we work. It applies to the longevity of our clothing, to our designs, which are timeless and not driven by short-term trends, to our use of natural materials and to our bespoke fabrics. Crucially, quality also applies to our attitude towards people and the natural environment. We treat our employees well and we build close relationships with our suppliers. We know the spinners, knitters, weavers, dyers and makers involved in our supply chain, and we know that every step is performed ethically and sustainably.

Four key principles underpin our approach:

1. Use natural, renewable raw materials that are sustainably and ethically farmed.

2. Maintain full supply chain transparency, from raw materials to finished product.

3. Ensure the ethical treatment of labour and the environment across our supply chain.

4. Make timeless and long-lasting products.

We have examined every aspect of the business over recent years to measure our performance against these principles.

Read our 2023 Sustainability and Traceabilty Report here.

1. Use natural, renewable raw materials that are sustainably and ethically farmed.

95% of the materials we use are natural, renewable and biodegradable, and we only use synthetics where absolutely necessary. 82% of our production is cotton, 8% is wool, and the remaining 5%, is silk, linen and leather. We source the highest quality, ethically farmed materials and maintain close relationships with our suppliers.

Case Study: Supima Cotton

We’ve been working with cotton since 1860, and today 42% of our cotton is Californian Supima. We use it because it’s some of the highest quality cotton in the world, with a staple length 40% longer than standard long-staple cotton, and because it’s farmed in an environmentally responsible way. California has some of the world’s strictest environmental regulations, and much of our Supima comes from a single, family-owned farm that goes well beyond these regulations. We believe this is among the best cotton available globally, from both a quality and environmental perspective.

Case Study: Wool

We’ve also been working with wool since 1860 and today we source ours from one of Scotland’s oldest spinners. Our lambswool is from South Africa and is non-mulesed, which means the lambs aren’t subjected to a painful operation, and Responsible Wool Standard certified, which guarantees welfare standards for the lambs and the land they graze. Our cashmere comes from Inner Mongolia, where local regulations protect traditional nomadic herding practices and prevent overgrazing and desertification.

2. Maintain full supply chain transparency, from raw materials to finished product.

Knowing who makes our clothes and where our raw materials come from is essential for guaranteeing high standards. We trace all our materials to source, we have close relationships with all our knitters, weavers, spinners and dyers, and all our products are manufactured by us or our partners in the UK and Europe.

Case Study: The Classic T-shirt

Our bestselling Classic T-shirt is made from Supima cotton, which is grown in California and then spun by our partners in India – people we’ve worked with for over 20 years. 90% of their energy comes from their own wind farm and they have won multiple awards for their innovative technologies and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Our knitting partners in Portugal manufacture our unique Q82 fabric and dye it in their specially designed energy and water-efficient dyehouse, using environmentally friendly dyes. The final garment is then handcrafted in our own UK factory, where we’ve been making T-shirts since 1937.

Case Study: The Luxury British Jumper

Our Luxury British Jumper is crafted from the wool of the Bluefaced Leicester sheep. Reared in the hills of north-west England, the wool is carded, combed, washed and spun nearby in Bradford. Organic detergents are used to remove its natural protective oils, which are sent away to be turned into cosmetics and balms. The final garment is knitted by specialists in Leicester. The entire product, from farm to finish, is made within 150 miles of our factory in Long Eaton.

3. Ensure the ethical treatment of labour throughout our supply chain.

Since the days of our forward-thinking founder, Thomas Hill, we’ve treated our labour force with respect and care. Our factory employees are still at the heart of the business and our working practices reflect that. These values are shared by all our partners.

We source materials from areas with strict labour regulations where there is no danger of worker abuse. Our factories are longstanding partners, many family-owned, and we visit them regularly. We know that each one believes in the fair treatment of labour.

Case Study: Long Eaton Factory

We moved into our Long Eaton factory in 1937 and we’ve been here ever since. Today we have roughly 30 factory employees. Some have worked with us for over 20 years and many are second or third-generation Sunspel employees. We operate highly flexible working practices with a four-day week and negotiable hours. Because we run our own factory, we know what a well-run factory should be like.

4. Make timeless and long-lasting products.

Sunspel was founded to make the highest quality everyday essentials – products designed to be comfortable, functional and long-lasting. This vision has not changed. Today we develop new garments slowly and we test them rigorously. We only introduce styles we believe will endure and we craft every product to stand the test of time. These are clothes that don’t get thrown away. For our customers they are the foundation of a long term wardrobe.


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