Grants unique combination of American casualness with European elegance and quality are based on the Brands name's origins from the East Coast where it was founded in 1949. Grant products are sold in more than 70 countries through more than 300 grant stores as well as a large number of selected retailers. Gant offers the full range of clothing for men, women and children. Home, time, fragrance, footwear and Eyewear licences are also incorporated under the grant brand name.
Who could imagine that a Russian was behind it all? But it's true. Back in 1914, Bernard Gant came ashore in New York, an immigrant from Ukraine. His career would seem to have been preordained. Without a detour he wound up in a garment district »sweatshop«. There he became a collar-sewing specialist.
After a few years he met his future wife. She was a button and button-hole specialist in the same firm. With the husband and wife in the same business it was no surprise that both their sons, Marty and Elliot would have the garment trade in their genes. In the early days, the company made its living as a subcontractor manufacturing shirts. The firm was then located in New Haven. Bernard understood that producing quality was the only way to enjoy work while assuring the company a strong future. From 1941 to 48 he sold exquisitely made shirts to some of the most respected private lables in America such as Manhattan Shirts, J.Press and Brooks Brothers. Marty mustered out of the Air Force with the rank of Captain in 1945 after some indecision about whether to remain as a career officer. He was drawn toward working in the family business. So it was with Elliot as well. He left the Navy in 1947. Early on they recognized the value of creating their own brand. Of course they still sold to other companies, but a little »G« down low on the corner showed who the manufacturer was. It was then just a short step to selling under their own label. Paul Stuart was their first customer. The first shirts offered something totally new; button-down collars with sportswear materials.
They were considered »preppy« and sold well in college shops all over the USA. Quality seeks quality - that was clear. That's why their approach was to always sell through the best store in town. If they weren't accepted immediately, then they waited. After a difficult first year, sales took off. The shirts sold as fast as they could be produced. An advertisement described the breakthrough. A full page in the New Yorker whetted buyers' appetites so much that from then on Gant advertised regularly in the magazine for the next ten years, first with full-pages in color and then on two-page spreads.»We became the first 'designer' label in the US,« says Marty, »and it was a natural step for us to start Gant shops in a number of department stores around the country. At one point in the 60s, Gant was the second largest shirtmaker in the world. At the end of 1966 and in the first months of 1967, the company was considering going public with a stock offering. Interest was keen on many fronts and Consolidated Foods made them an offer that was too good to refuse.
The big conglomerate bought them up and within a few years added some 20 other companies from the garment industry. The first manager was very good, but then another showed up who did everything wrong - dropped the exclusivity and began selling to lower-grade chains. The quality went down but the price went up anyway,« recalls Marty who left his position as managing director in 1972 after his successful introduction of the Ruggers label. »I hate what they did to the company,« he remarks as the interview concludes. As late as the 80s, Marty offered to promote customer groups to build up the brand again, but no one was interested.