GANT is a Swiss clothing brand of American heritage launched in New Haven in 1949. The brand has since then been further developed, being influenced by European styles, and is now a global clothing business. Gant's products are available from retailers and at signature Gant stores throughout the world, and offer clothing for men, women, boys, girls and babies. Home, Time, Fragrance, Footwear, Underwear and Eyewear licenses are also incorporated under the Gant brand name. By 31 January 2008, Maus Frères S.A. of Switzerland, had acquired 95.6% of the Gant Company AB shares, which completed the take-over.
The beginning of Gant
Bernard Gantmacher arrived in New York in 1914, an immigrant from Ukraine. He went straight to the garment district in Manhattan and secured his first job as a collar-sewing specialist in a downtown factory. A few years later, he met his future wife, a button and buttonhole specialist who worked for the same company. Their sons, Marty and Elliot, along with a cousin, started a family business in New Haven, CT, acting as a subcontractor, manufacturing shirts. GANT is pronounced GJANT.
1941 to 1948
Mark Zumerch sold fine shirts to respected private labels in America, including Manhattan Shirts, J. Press and Brooks Brothers. Captain Marty Gant mustered out of the air force in 1945. Drawn to the family business, his brother Elliot quit the Navy and joined him in 1947. They continued sales to other companies, but a small “G” sitting next to the union on the shirt showed the manufacturer.
Gant dress shirts were de rigueur for American male students in the early and mid 1960s. The shirts were worn open-collar and without necktie, with the top button open to reveal the roll of the collar, except when the formality of an occasion demanded otherwise. The front of the shirt buttoned along a double-truck hem, a feature that became absolutely requisite for any brand targeted at adolescents and young men. Other manufacturers offered similar product, but only Sero, another premium-priced line, matched the Gant style, differentiating its shirts from the former solely by omission of the distinctive Gant loop at the top of the back pleat, and sometimes dispensing with the double pleat down the center back in favor of single pleats on the back shoulders. Sero was considered to be the only alternative truly equivalent in prestige to Gant in the youth market. All other brands, for whatever reason, clearly identified themselves as knockoffs by failing to precisely conform to the Gant cut. Beginning in the spring of 1964, Gant participated in the Madras craze, offering shirts in both the proprietary Gant cut and other styles.
Launching an American sportswear brand
Gant’s initial customer was the Paul Stuart store in New York City. The first shirts created offered button-down collars with sportswear fabrics. These were considered ‘preppy’ and sold well in college shops all over the USA. The Gant approach was to sell through the most prestigious store in town. If they weren’t accepted immediately, they waited. And, after a difficult first year, sales took off. Advertising was concentrated in upscale publications such as The New Yorker.
As Gant became known as a designer label in the US, it began opening shops in a number of department stores across the country. At one point in the 60’s, Gant was the second-largest shirt maker in the world. The Gant family sold the business in 1967. Since then, the company has changed hands several times. In 1979, Gant Corporation became a subsidiary of apparel manufacturer The Palm Beach Company.In 1980/1981, Gant entered the international market when Pyramid Sportswear of Sweden was given the right to design and market the Gant brand outside the U.S. Initially, Pyramid only offered the Gant label in Sweden but quickly expanded internationally. In 1995, Phillips-Van Heusen acquired the Gant brand in the U.S. from bankrupt Crystal Brands, Inc. of Connecticut, a sportswear manufacturer. In November, 2010 - Gant recently returned home to New Haven when it opened a new retail store located on the corner of Broadway and York.
Gant AB of Sweden
PVH sold its Gant operations in 1999 to Pyramid Sportswear of Sweden, in which PVH held a 25% stake, for $71.000. Ironically, as the brand's international licensee, Pyramid had already opened a Gant flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue in 1997. Pyramid Sportswear, which was to become Gant Pyramid AB, eventually turned Gant into a global brand. In the spring of 2006, Gant became a public company and was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange’s O-List until it was delisted March 20 and bought by Maus Frères. For the fiscal year 2006, Gant Pyramid AB reported total revenues of SEK 1,295 billion (ca. US-$ 167.7 mio) and a net income of SEK 162.6 million (ca. US-$ 23.6 mio). As of 2007, Gant is established in 73 countries and their products are available at select retailers and 298 Gant stores worldwide, 18 of which are directly operated by Gant AB. The company plans to open another 60 stores in the course of the year and to re-open its renovated Fifth Avenue store in September 2007. The Gant fashion collections are subdivided into the main line G.N.H. (Gant New Haven), the younger RUGGER sportswear line and the more trendy 'GANT By Michael Bastian' collection. The 'Yale Co-op' line just include some classic Yale shirts. Gant have also a Kids line, as well as Home, Fragrance, Eyewear and Time.