For GANT, it all began with shirts and they never stopped reinventing them. Born in 1949, it’s a shirt that is rich in legacy and history.
The story of GANT begins with a Ukrainian boy in search of a better life who sailed to America, fell in love, found success and forever changed American style. His name was Berl Gantmacher.
Like so many Jewish immigrants before him, he Americanized his name – Berl became Bernard – and set about improving himself. He enrolled in night classes at Columbia University’s College of Pharmacy but during the day he found work in the city’s bustling garment industry on the Lower East Side.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Bernard joined the US Army and went to fight in France. Upon completing his military service he returned to New York with a renewed desire to succeed. He graduated from college, married, and decided the time was right to go into business for himself.
Encouraged by his sons, Bernard Gantmacher establishes GANT Inc – and starts to make shirts under the company’s own label. At the time the town of New Haven was one of America’s capitals of clothing manufacture.
The term Ivy League was first used in the 1930s to refer to a group of northeastern American colleges that were sporting rivals. However it soon became synonymous with more than just sports. It denoted academic excellence, prestige, tradition – and a new and relaxed style that would forever change American fashion. A style that became known as the Ivy League Look.
In 1954, LIFE magazine declared New Haven the home of the Ivy League Look. The reason for this was that New Haven had not only a thriving garment industry but was also the home of Yale University. It was the ideal place for the Ivy League Look to flourish.
GANT saw the emerging style and recognized that it dovetailed with what GANT was already doing. They started experimenting with shirts in different fabrics and styles, and added bolder colors to the pale 1950s palette. The family took pride in their role in shaping the bright new look, and in 1954 the company’s name was changed to GANT of New Haven.
As the 60's unfolded, the Ivy League Look became even more distinctive. GANT developed more and more boldly-colored shirts in unusual fabrics including Madras, candy-stripe and tartan. These shirts were in tune with the revolutionary mood of the sixties. This became known as the Oxford Color Explosion, and it has been a key feature of the Ivy League Look ever since.