Two American old-time brands of two diverse pedigrees reinvent themselves this fall: Gant, with it's preppy heritage, and Woolrich, representing the great American outdoors. Both companies dug deep into their fabric and design archives to cook up new interpretations of their unique traditions and aesthetics.
Gant 60th Anniversary Collection
Last night I was at the Gant flagship store on Fifth Avenue for the company's 60th anniversary party. At first I wasn't all that excited about it, but I decided to go investigate their heavily pumped "60th Anniversary Collection," a line of 6 limited edition collector's item shirts sold exclusively at said flagship store here in New York and at Barneys New York, Beverly Hills, and Chicago. Heck, I might as well go while cocktails are served, right?
Honestly, despite the fact that Gant had much to contribute to the birth of the American man's shirt—introducing the button-down oxford shirt across the U.S, inventing the locker loop, the box pleat, and the button on the back collar (it keeps the tie in place)—I was pretty bored with their merch for a long long time...possibly always.
But to commemorate their 60th, Gant came up with these newly-rendered versions of their 6 vintage shirt styles. I inspected every single one of those shirts—and maybe it was the cocktail talking—but I actually really dug them.
I appreciated the luxe tweaks, like turning a woolly flannel shirt into a soft cotton-cashmere blend ("The Cashmere"), or transforming a casual Ivy League professorial button-down into a slim fit, übersleek Sea Island cotton number ("The Sea Island"). Then there are the unusual permutations of the classic oxford button-down: "The Rugger," a fusion between an oxford button-down and a rugby shirt, and "The Pullover," an oxford button-down-turned-leisure shirt (both pictured above). (Check out all the shirts here.)
These shirts would look mighty nice on ye old chaps with a pair of dark or subtly broken-in jeans, topped with a tweed or flannel sportcoat, or even a chunky cardigan. Finish with boots, lace-ups, sneakers, or one of those cool Sperry Top-Sider Chukkas.
Woolrich Woolen Mills
If the Gant shirts seem a little too affected and precious for a straight-shootin' man like yourself, there's the more rugged Woolrich Woolen Mills, a high-concept label for Woolrich—the company famous for its lumberjack-style woolly outdoor gear. As such, it's an outerwear/jacket-heavy collection that makes good use of the company's signature plaids and woolen fabrics, mixed in with some rustic knits.
Now I tried to digest what the website was saying about the collection, but it was so garbled with meaningless jargon that I gave up. I mean, I'm no novice in bullshit fashion-speak, but this one took it to another level. Excerpt: "It is a synergy between textile tradition and modern forms, where structural details have a fundamental role in terms of functionality." ... Say wha??? Bitch pu-leez.
But to sum up the 11-paragraph gibberish in one sentence, I think it was basically saying this: "Woolrich Woolen Mills is a design concept that honors the rich heritage and tradition of the Woolrich brand, reinterpreting it in modern ways that mirror its history and authenticity." Done. And done.
While a few individual pieces of the collection are alright, I find that the line as a whole is too heavy. I can't imagine a man wearing a wool shirt with a wool bow tie with a wool sportcoat and pants under a thick wool sweater under a wool peacoat. Verdict: Don't believe the hype. If you'd like to try it, pick one piece and de-woolify the rest of the look. (View the collection here.)