The Interview: Gant CEO, Brian Grevy
Swedish-owned, US-founded, preppy brand GANT has reached its 70th anniversary this year. CEO, Brian Grevy, tells us how the brand is planning to celebrate the milestone, as well revealing other future plans.
What are the seven iconic pieces for seven decades that you’ve selected to feature for your 70th anniversary?
As the first brand to offer the button-down shirt to a broader American market in 1949, we have built our business around the shirt and six other American sportswear icons over the past seven decades. The ‘Button-Down Shirt’, the ‘Club Blazer’, the ‘Chino Pant’, the ‘Piqué’, the ‘Heavy Rugger’, the GANT ‘Varsity Jacket’ and the ‘Cable Knit’ have all been crucial building blocks in our long success story and will, therefore, be highlighted throughout the year. Over the past 70 years, we have driven product innovation by reinventing, refining and perfecting these key pieces. Our new ‘Seven Decades Seven Icons’ campaign focuses on the products, and really pays tribute to them.
Is the short campaign film celebrating the seven icons pieces being well-received on social media?
The campaign launched on February 7 and every month a new ‘icon’ releases. The impact on social channels has been amazing so far. Many influencers are representing GANT and you can see a lot of people engaging in the content. The YouTube film has 4.8 million views at the moment, but also more traditional media, such as OOH, is performing well. It truly is a 360° campaign that we are very pleased with.
Are the icon pieces branded any differently from the GANT main line, or will the garments have special 70th ticketing?
The icons speak for themselves and won’t have any particular 70thanniversary labels or finishes. But, in May, we will release a small capsule collection containing shirts and a jersey pack, and these will have special labels which commemorate the 70th anniversary.
What other plans do you have for the 70thcelebrations?
In May, we will launch the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to the successful TV series ‘Couple Thinkers.’ This documentary will be launched during the world-renowned Tribeca Film Festival with the aim to work as a catalyst and conversation starter. We want to spark questions and provide more than high-quality products. Later this spring, we will also invite guests from our key global markets to join the anniversary festivities in Stockholm.
What is the 'Couple Thinkers' TV series GANT created all about
'Couple Thinkers' was a documentary series launched at the end of 2017 in the spirit of GANT’s brand credo – ‘Never Stop Learning’. Fully produced by GANT and viewed via You Tube,the six-part series saw former Late Late Show host Crag Ferguson and his wife Megan travel the world seeking answers to topics they had always wondered about. Both Crag and Megan wore GANT through theseries but this was not the main focus for the brand.The series has currently had 14 million views and a total of 85 million minutes watched.This May will see a follow up documentary, not a second season of ‘Couple Thinkers’,but another project that drives the curiosity and innovation for GANT.Hopefully, people like what they see and become interested in the phenomenon it investigates.
Why did you decide to discontinue the GANT Rugger line?
We made this decision due to previous confusion regarding what line targeted which consumer. We are now, instead, taking the best parts from the sub-brands GANT Rugger and GANT Diamond G, and merging them with the main line.
Does GANT still very much play up its US preppy heritage?
We are a brand that was born in the US, and raised in Europe – with the world as our classroom. This makes us a preppy American brand with European sophistication. I think that sums it up quite well. Of course, we stay true to our heritage but we are definitely influenced by far more.
Who is GANT’s real target customer?
We don’t have one specific customer in mind when we are designing. We want to target the ‘curious professionals’ to a wider extent. With this said, I am a strong believer that you can be a curious professional both in your early twenties as well as your late seventies. Why narrow it down? It is rather about a lifestyle. If you want to dress well without putting in too much effort, and are attracted to high quality pieces with a timeless design with innovative components, then GANT is your go-to. We constantly strive to attract new people with the aim to be top-of-mind for the customers with shared values, since that is more important than what age they are.
What do the 70th-anniversary shirt and watch collections consist of and when will they be released?
This small capsule shirt collection will be released in May, but the watches were released in February. We created this small capsule collection to invite our consumers to explore our American sportswear heritage. The creation process started on a visit to our birthplace in New Haven, Connecticut,where we rediscovered our love for the architecture and symbolism of the university buildings. It’s where we grew up and were inspired to always stay curious and never stop learning.
How many standalone stores does GANT have on a global basis, and how many in the UK?
GANT enjoys a global presence in over 70 markets, with 750 stores and 4,000 selected retailers. We have 17 full price stores in UK and six outlets, from as far north as Edinburgh across the country and down to Portsmouth, with one franchise store in Northern Ireland.
Are there any plans to open any more stores in the UK this year?
We have no immediate plans to open any new stores in the UK in 2019, but if a great opportunity presents itself we would certainly consider it, and we are in negotiation for a new store in London in 2020. We still see standalone brand stores as an important part of our current and future business.
See at timeline of The GANT Story here.