Eight Years After a Fateful Bond Cameo, Sunspel's Polo Shirt Keeps Doing Numbers

The polo shirt’s rise to prominence has been a slow march. It’s bubbled up since the ‘90s and then the 2000s (as Jacob Elordi’s uber-wealthy Felix Catton so deftly proved in Saltburn). But thanks to the sexy, sweaty, tennis-based phenomenon that is Challengers, the polo has completed a full circle journey, from its mod era through an edged-up grandad-core phase, and now, a return to its ‘70s tennis roots. If 2023 saw Jeremy Allen White solidify the humble white T-shirt as a casualwear champ, then this summer belongs to the easygoing nostalgia of a light polo shirt—and few do it better than Sunspel.

A big deal ever since it was picked up by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, the English brand’s Riveria style has been a grail for both those who wish to dress like Bond, and those who want to be him. And now, there’s cross-party appeal: preppies, party boys, and trust fund princes all want in. Raul Verdicchi, CEO at Sunspel, told GQ: “We’ve seen a significant increase in polo shirt sales in general, with the style growing over 30 percent overall year-on-year, and sales of the Riviera growing by over 50 percent.”


White Riviera Polo

And it seems the 2000s Saltburn-coded era is winning out. “Customers are increasingly buying polos together with blazers as part of an outfit—we’ve seen an over 60 per cent year-on-year increase on customers buying this combination,” says Verdicchi.

But what’s this got to do with the mass of T-shirts stacked at the back of your wardrobe? Well, they’re certainly not void—no one’s going that far. A humble white tee and blue jean combo will always be a king combo; now it just has a rival. Convert or otherwise, the slow march is turning into a full sprint. And during what feels like five decades of crewneck supremacy, maybe it’s time to change into a bright and fresh pique polo shirt.


Black Riviera Polo

This story originally appeared on British GQ with the title ‘How Sunspel’s ‘Riveria’ polo shirt become the new white tee.’

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