Everyone has that brand. You know the one I mean – the one that makes you want to buy everything in the whole store despite the fact it’s out of your price range. The one you can never find in TK Maxx. The one that leaves you counting down the days until they have a sale. The one that, when you open your bank statement, has you cutting up your credit card and sobbing gently while the theme song from Requiem for a Dream plays in the background. For me, Gant is that brand.
To say that my fashion sense is eclectic is something of an understatement (my wardrobe contains everything from bandanas and Black Dahlia Murder t-shirts to deck shoes and ripped skinny jeans), but preppy brands like Ralph Lauren, Gant and Abercrombie & Fitch have had a constant presence for longer than I can remember.
The fashion world is ridden with simulations and simulacra – Ralph Lauren stoically continues to present images of polo, country clubs and the upper classes despite gathering near exponential popularity with young African Americans looking to emulate their hip hop mogul idols. Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch seem to have all but ditched the idea of being a brand for frat boys and surfers and have been subsumed by their own branding. Is it just me or are those moose and seagull logos getting bigger by the minute…?
So what of Gant? Despite being started by a Ukranian immigrant and launched internationally by a Swedish company, Gant retains a distinct sense of American-ness. No doubt, this is something they work hard to cultivate – one need only look at the interior of their flagship stores to realise this.
So, here’s the kicker. I don’t consider myself a big blogger. I don’t even consider myself an established blogger. So imagine my surprise when Halpern PR contacted me on behalf of Gant, already aware that I’ve previously written about them.
As well as sending me a present (which I love, obviously…now looking for an excuse to wear a tie), they told me about the Yale Shirt Initiative. If you went down to the store last weekend (RETROSPECTIVE BLOGGING KLAXON), you could have your initials monogrammed on a shirt in different fonts, colours and places. All for free. Which is nice. And it was all done right in the shop window -
I was already hugely impressed by this move – the fact that a mega brand like Gant approached someone like me says a lot about how they do things. When I ambled down to the store unannounced, I was even more impressed – the staff told me all about the Yale Shirt Initiative, despite the fact that I (probably) looked like a bit of a ragamuffin, and they even laughed at my terrible jokes. Which, as anyone who’s met me before knows, is the key to my heart.
In the early days, Gant targeted the most prestigious stores they could find. If the store didn’t accept them, they waited until they were reconsidered (this usually only took as long as it did for word of their high quality products to spread). Although it would be easy to equate this with elitism, it’s clear that this simply isn’t the case – one thing that has remained constant from then until now is the brand’s uncompromising vision. They’re aspirational, value perfectionism and clearly want to be the best. As far as I can see, that’s why they are.