How Sunspel’s Riviera Polo Shirt Became James Bond’s Signature Look - Oracle Time
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How Sunspel’s Riviera Polo Shirt Became James Bond’s Signature Look

Sunspel Riviera Polo shirt

Whatever you think of the films – and let’s be fair, they’re a bit hit and miss – there’s no denying that James Bond has style. Far from clandestine, the world’s most recognisable superspy always seems to be the best dressed in the room, on the beach or at the centre of a series of explosions.

The version of the world’s least secret agent that springs to mind is him immaculately attired in a tuxedo, whether that’s a classic notch lapel number or Daniel Craig’s penchant for a shawl, either way the classic 007 look.

Sunpel James Bond Polo Shirt

Yet when he’s not winning an unrealistic hand at poker over a few Martinis, it’s not like his level of sartorial savvy drops along with the formality. Even off-duty, he’s still Bond, James Bond, and part of that look is thanks to Sunspel. Casino Royale was a turning point for the Bond franchise in that it was good. And not just James Bond good, but genuinely a fantastic film, in large part because of the new type of agent Daniel Craig brought to proceedings, a darker, more brooding, more brutal one. And costume designer Lindy Hemming had the enviable task of dressing the new 007.

So, with a focus on impeccable British quality, she went to Sunspel for all his vests, T-shirts and underwear, the basics done brilliantly. It’s what the homegrown brand does best, after all. Yet there was one piece where off-the rack simply wouldn’t do. That was, of course, the Riviera Polo Shirt.

Sunspel Riviera Polo shirt
Sunspel Riviera Polo

The Riviera wasn’t new for 2006, not by a long shot, dating all the way back to the 1950s and British jetsetter (and grandson of Sunspel’s founder) Peter Hill. He appreciated the tennis-adjacent style of a classic polo shirt but not as much the stifling material they were often made of. So, like anyone with the drive and means, he created his own – out of a lightweight mesh known now as Quality 75.

The result was a wonderfully breathable yet no less smart polo, perfect for the heat of the south of France, which was aptly christened the Riviera Polo. Cut back to 2006 and the version that Craig wore wasn’t exactly the same. It still used the Q75 material of course, but Hemming decided to update its silhouette to make the most of her well-toned star. She slimmed it down, shortened the arms and adjusted the chest: all of these elements combined for a much more tailored look, less sporting practicality, and more modern wardrobe staple.

Thus, the modern Riviera Polo was born.

Sunspel Riviera V-Neck T-shirt
Sunspel Riviera collection

Since then, the polo has come in a variety of classic colours, slotting into Sunspel’s portfolio of pared-back yet immaculately made pieces. It might be surprising however to learn that it’s never actually been reproduced in the grey melange that made its debut in Casino Royale.

James Bond Casino Royale

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (2006)

Well, to celebrate Craig’s final outing with a licence to kill in No Time to Die, Sunspel is re-releasing a trio of archival variations of the Riviera Polo. The trio includes the Spectral Grey and Sky Diver Blue, released for Spectre and Skyfall respectively, along with that original Casino Royale grey.

If you, like most British men, dream of emulating Craig’s take on James Bond, this might be your best chance. At the very least, you’ll come to understand why the Riviera Polo has become a must-have for any well-dressed gent, be they superspy or not.

More details at Sunspel.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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