January 11 2012
Most weekends I start early at Shoreditch House, swimming laps before the rooftop pool becomes busy. By the time I’ve showered, dressed, eaten breakfast and read the papers, it’s past 11am, the time when another favourite Shoreditch haunt – Sunspel on Redchurch Street (pictured) – opens for business.
Even before the Long Eaton-based brand officially launched its capsule women’s clothing collection, I would always drop in and manage to find something suitable for myself. Guided by the suggestions and the stylish example set by the helpful young women who work there, I purchased an oversized men’s cardigan that I gently shrank to fit, some ever-so-soft raspberry and lemon cashmere bed socks that I bought as Christmas gifts, not to mention the beautifully patterned Liberty-print boxers, roomy enough for me to wear lounging in the privacy of my garden on the very rare occasion when summer temperatures soared.
Nicholas Brooke and his business partner Dominic Hazlehurst, who bought Sunspel in 2005, have so far done a stellar job of expanding the collection beyond the core product of men’s underpants. “We had so many women asking us when we were going to create something specifically for them,” said Brooke, explaining that I was just one of many who openly declared their love for this heritage British men’s brand. So last summer, when the dedicated women’s pieces arrived in store, I quickly snapped up a striped elasticated skirt (£45) and the most perfect undergarment – a fine cotton slip dress in black or white that comes this winter with an elegant lace trim (£75).
The arrival of colder weather and my abandonment of the weekend dip coincided with the opening of a second Sunspel outpost in Soho on Old Compton Street. The new store is much larger than its Shoreditch counterpart, perfect to showcase the expanded winter offering for women. There are knitted beanie hats, polo shirts, T-shirts in colours including rose or mint, sweaters, as well as super-versatile merino wool sweater dresses – something that I intend to buy next. So far, I’ve bought a lightweight wool beanie (£30) – black with a donkey-brown stripe – and a perfectly cut V-neck sweater in moss green (£105), amounting to more Sunspel items in my wardrobe than my husband, who’s always quick to declare that he was a fan first.
My only worry is that Sunspel needs to overhauls its windows – there were three male mannequins there when I visited recently, but nothing to suggest that once inside the store there’s a fabulous little offering for women.