The students and professors at Yale in the 1960’s were among GANT’s first loyal customers. Their desire for a more comfortable, more relaxed fashion helped make New Haven, the hometown of both GANT and Yale, the style capital of the entire East Coast collegiate world.
Now we are re-launching a legendary item, the Yale Co-op shirt, originally created exclusively for Yale. The shirt and its innovative features remain true to the 1960’s original. This is the story of its origin.
The birth of American sportswear
With the end of World War II, America changed almost over night. A whole generation of young people risked their lives to save the world, now they were back home to change it. New influences found their way to prominence and those lucky enough to return home unscathed displayed a new confidence and a taste for new kinds of art, music and fashion. The new attitude and style soon spread to campuses across the country and evolved to what would come to be known as the Ivy League look. And perhaps nowhere was the look more cultivated and perfected than on Yale University in New Haven.
Founded in 1701, Yale is one of the oldest and most respected universities in America. It is one of eight universities on the east coast that form what is known as the Ivy League. Yale has long been regarded as a starting point towards leadership and its former students include several presidents, Supreme Court judges and numerous members of congress. The school has had a major importance on almost every aspect of American society, and style is no exception. In the post war era of the 50’s a fashion revolution was taking place at Yale. The first break with pre-war style was to continue wearing the tough khaki pants from the trenches. Chinos were not only comfortable, but were a far away from dad’s well-pressed suit one could get. Chinos were soon being worn with colored patterned shirts, V-neck sweaters, club blazers and loafers. The right campus look should come across as casual – as though you don’t really care what you put on, despite the fact you actually take much care.
GANT and Yale
In the 1920’s New Haven was the centre of a blooming textile industry and home to a large population of craft skilled Italian immigrants. The city was building a reputation for it’s top quality manufacturing. Bernard Gant moved here in 1927 and set up a business making shirts to some of the most notable shirt brands of the time. After the war his two sons Marty and Elliot, who both returned home safely from war service, joined their father and in 1949 launched their own label GANT of New Haven. The GANT factory was only a short walk away from Yale and Marty and Elliot were inspired with what they saw happening at the campus. Being young and being so close to one of the world’s most trend-sensitive universities put the brothers naturally at is forefront; The GANT shirt was an instant success.
The students at Yale made most of their shopping in the campus store, known as the Co-op. It was a consumer co-operative were members paid a dollar for membership and in the end of the year shared the profits. Here, in one place, the students could buy everything from pencils and toothpaste to the right lacrosse stick. But it was the clothes that made it the number one meeting spot. The store had a sorted selection of chinos and shirts, sweaters, jackets and shoes. Clothes that made the bearer feel as good-looking and comfortable on the way to faculty meeting, as to the school dance. GANT, being a popular brand among the campus crowd, designed a special selection of shirts that was exclusively sold at the Co-op. The shirt featured the best of all GANT innovations and characteristics and became a longtime bestseller at the Co-op.