All-American—With A Quick Detour To Sweden-------
Gant, the heritage American sportswear label known for its preppy threads, was founded in New Haven, Connecticut, over 60 years ago. Bought by a Swedish company in 1999, Gant has wended into and out of the spotlight, but the progress of the last few years—and the surging of interest in heritage Americana, especially in menswear—has seen the label make strides. The line now comprises three distinct entities, the namesake label, a special collection designed by CFDA Award-winner Michael Bastian, and the sportier Gant Rugger.
The world—not just America—is taking notice. Three new stores opened in the U.S. last year (in Boston, L.A., and Georgetown), following a year of investment in New York, where the longtime Fifth Avenue flagship was fully renovated and a new Bleecker Street boutique added. This, plus a subtle update to the label’s design vision has, according to reps, resulted in a doubling of U.S. sales figures. In 2013, plans are in order for locations in London, Stockholm, and Paris’ Le Marais.
2012 proved to be a year of firsts and new starts. Christopher Bastin, the Swedish creative director of Gant Rugger, took the reins at Gant as well. A new, super-charged campaign for Spring ’13 (above) will debut in the new year, with a lineup of talent more often associated with major European fashion houses: art direction by Baron & Baron, photography by Mikael Jansson, and styling by Joe McKenna. “We felt that Baron + Baron could give us a fresh perspective,” Bastin said, “But we know who we are and where we come from. I knew it would be foolish to rush things. American sportswear is about style, not fashion, so there are gentle shifts.”
And what of his Swedish background—has being immersed in Gant’s all-American archive given the creative director, well, a touch of Stockholm Syndrome? “I’m not a big fan of typical Scandinavian minimalistic aesthetics,” Bastin said. “I can appreciate the simplicity, but it’s not me. In my next life, I want to graduate from Yale and live in Vinegar Hill.”