In amongst the usual Dad’s wear and euro sloane preppy nonsense, in the last couple of seasons, GANT have sneaked in some really nice bits and pieces to their Rugger collection.
I don’t know what their PR is like in the US but here in the UK it’s like they were told they had to sell the stuff and really, really didn’t want to. The Rugger line seems to be only available physicall in the Regent St flagship store (and then in amongst incoming boxes with the changing rooms blocked by unpacked stock from upstairs etc).
When I first went there just after the store opened last year, the guy in charge of the Rugger section told me ‘the styles are a bit funny, like I wore at school’. I was wearing a 1960s Gant The Hugger and showed him the label. He didn’t understand what I said. He worked for the company but had no idea of the history. His brain visibly melted and he walked away. There was a french speaking black guy smartly dressed upstairs who, understanding why I was buying ‘the look’ took me back down to show me some other things and Herb Lester told me he recently went in the store, headed straight for downstairs and then came right back up, a shop assistant desperately trying to grab him. “Was it the stuff downstairs you’re looking for?”
Even online the Autumn/Winter 2010 season merited 9 pages of items (a lot of it poor, but some decent gems in amongst it) but despite checking for the Spring/Summer 2011 stuff, the site is still down to 2 pages of post sale goods when you click on the Rugger heading. Strange then, that trawling through the generic ‘shirts’ tab on the main website brings up a number of obscurely labelled items such as R1 and R2 which are Rugger pieces, but it seems no one could be bothered to add them to the right category on the site. Very odd.
I’ve picked up a number of pieces from them, mostly shirts but also the really nice 1970s style puffa jacket (called “The Puffer” – they all have names you see) which is now discounted on the Sale section.
It was whilst watching the Omen II of all things and the scene of Damien and his pals playing on the ice that made me think about classic puffers again. Many an admiring comment from strangers to Paul Simons and Theo at John Simons, both of whom thought my gray blue version was an authentic vintage piece.
I guess it’s because, like me, most people gave up on Gant 20 years ago. Where Ralph Lauren occasionally gets ivy style close enough, Gant had missed it by a long way since being bought by the Swedes. Now, however it’s possible to find nice madras shirts in a slim fit with third back button, a great blue oxford popover with button flap pocket, and some generally interesing bits and pieces. The branding is subtle too. None of that Gant logo stuff on the pockets or locker loops.
Don’t get me wrong you have to selective, a couple of the shirts I bought online had some extraneous details which meant they needed sending back, but their lack of intelligable marketing meant that there were lots of items going for half price in the last sale in January (they recently sent me an ‘e-brochure’ for the new season that was miniscule and could not be resized on the screen!)
It must be said, however, that their mail order online is second to none, sometimes items are dispatched the same day as ordering (for next day delivery) and since December there’s been no charge. Returns are free too.
Some of the stuff may be aimed at the same ASOS / Fred Perry crowd that Baracuta seems intent on wooing but it’s nice to see them bringing back some interesting shirts at prices two thirds of similar RL product.
Much has been blogged about Gant digging into its heritage, opening on Bleecker St etc, but it’s entirely from the ‘beardy workwear’ brigade. No one seems to have really picked up on it from the Ivy side despite the original Gant’s credentials.
To be honest, I’d take one of these selected shirts over the much overrated Gitman Heritage any day. Made in USA they may be but Gitman, like BD Baggies before them, suffer from the cardinal sin of button down shirts – double row stitching on the collar. That’s fine for chambray workshirts but shouldn’t be seen on oxfords!
I do agree that it’s a bit cheeky of GANT to be using the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union stamp but I guess that’s as much a relic as the original The Hugger shirt? Yes, GANT is back but it seems to be by accident. Buy it while you can, the tide will soon go out and the ivy touches will be history once more.
Here’s an update on those two shirts featured here that I ordered. The blue poplin plaid check shirt is really nice, good collar with roll etc, but the madras suffers from that modern malaise – the mini button down collar. I hadn’t expected that from Gant as most of their shirts (even the standard product) doesn’t suffer the Ralph Lauren/Brooks Brothers ‘clifford’ issue. Sorry, but I just can’t stand mini collars that have no roll to them. The madras colours on the shirt were great and the flap pocket a nice touch reminiscent of vintage Gant Foxhunt Plaid shirts. I’ve sent this back for a refund and replaced it with another blue oxford popover…
However good news on the Gant front to follow in the next post.