Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gant, You're No J. Press

The new Gant store opened in New Haven a few weeks ago, and I was eager to see it for myself.  There had been a lot of press about the return of Gant to New Haven.

And I have to admit that I have warm memories of Gant.  As a child, my family almost exclusively wore shirts made by both Gant (who made shirts for J.Press and the Yale Co-op) and Sero.  Both companies had factories in the New Haven area.

Located in a handsome, near century old building at the corner of York and Elm, I found the interior space to be tasteful, albeit smaller than I expected.   But to say that I was underwhelmed with the merchandise is a understatement.

Clearly they are targeting a younger market, and I had known their prices would be on the higher side.  But keeping that in mind, I found their offerings to be both lacking in taste as well as quality.  80% of what I looked at was made in China (such as a sweater priced at over two hundred dollars), a fact communicated by the feel before I even got to the tag.

In keeping with current trends, it would appear to me that most of their focus as well as funding is being funneled into their P.R. and marketing.  By far, the most appealing aspects were the most amicable fellows who were managing the store.

We took a break and headed over to The Educated Burgher.  This is almost next door to the old Yale Co-op location.

We then walked over to what continues to be my favorite store of all time, J. Press.  As I have mentioned before, Gabe has passed away, and Ralph has retired.  But fortunately James is still there.

There were dozens of items that were tempting, including the fabulous green Shaggy Dog sweater.  But for this trip we just picked up the appropriate university (Schoolboy) scarf to give as a host gift for an upcoming party in the city. 

We returned to our car via the always beautiful Yale Campus.  And we are looking forward to our next trek  back.


Trip English said...

I shouldn't say I'm disappointed in Gant. That would imply that I had any expectations at all. However, if it brings more people near J.Press then it has some redeeming value. I strayed from traditional dress since my school days, and only through "less authentic avenues" did I arrive back at Press, O'Connell's, & Brooks Brothers. This could certainly happen for others who, after finding their Gant & Rugby garments going to seed, realize that there are more authentic and satisfying offerings.

James said...

Sorry Gant was a let down, but so much is today. The rest of your day sounds fantastic.

Tammy B said...

My father wore Gant. My first rugby shirt was Gant. I hate that it is disappointing. I also remember Sero. I wore Ms. Sero OCBD's when I was in college. Are they still around? I can't seem to find them anymore.

Town and Country Mom said...

Sad to hear, but not surprising. I had completely forgotten about Sero, but I did have several of their oxfords in college. I remember Gant used to have some beautiful woven plaids. Sigh.

Wharf Rat said...

Great article!

Best part, however, is to enhance the size of the JP interior.

Hard to describe the thrill, from the twice a year trips there from Hartford, for 17 years.

Just walking in the front door was a treat like most art fans must get from seeing what's on display at their favorite art gallery. (Everyone has to be thrilled about something.)

Place just dripped atmosphere! Like your favorite city club. Shabby elegance.

The people that staffed the place seemed like they came from central casting, in Hollywood. Frank York always knew what would work, and was such a gentlemen.

The integrity was surreal. Mr York and I would find some jewel on sale, and Ralph the tailor would check it out and often say; "I'm sorry sir, that just won't do."

My father was visiting from out of town, and he was treated as well when he bought a paid of grey trousers, as if he had made a huge purchase.

Real class! Not the point of the article, but thanks for the memories!

OTOH, dunno about Gant. They have a tough challenge. Can't imagine the JP customer being attracted, more than once. Yale students in cargo shorts and flip flops dressed in neo homeless style. Doubt it.

Sophie said...

I wholeheartedly agree about the lack of quality in Gant clothing, particularly given the price tags. I was drawn into their store after receiving a catalog but left without a single purchase.

Kathie Truitt said...

Muffy, you are one tough nut to crack - that is NOT a bad thing - you just have very high standards. Which is a good thing. I always enjoy your posts, but I am always glad when you post pictures of yourself so we can see what you're wearing.

j.mosby said...

I remember wearing Gant shirts back in junior high school! One I remember was a yellow button down that comes to mind. The trend at the time was the girls would sneek up from behind and pull off the tab on the back pleat of the shirt. The current Gant offerings don't do a whole lot for me.
I'll have to plan a trip to Prep Mecca J.Press some day, we have a J. Press here in downtown D.C.

axejacks said...

Another old and true company falls prey to the manufacturing of goods overseas, how sad, and thank you for pointing that out to us on your walkabout.
I just can't see paying for something that will be ill-fitting and probably will fall apart in 6 months.
It's getting harder and harder to find good quality clothing.

Susan said...

I love little shops that soon become your favorite and nothing else quite fits the bill. I remember two such places that I shopped at ages ago when I lived in San Diego. The Toggery Shop (men's) and Duck's and Company (women's traditional clothing). I used to work at Ducks and Company, but alas, they are no longer in business, at least not in San Diego. They closed their doors long before I left San Diego which is unfortunate because I wasn't able to find a lot of the wonderful handknit sweaters I used to buy from them. That's where I was first introduced to Blueberry Woolens. Which I cannot find anywhere.

Tickled Pink And Green said...

You'll recognize my latest post locale...


Ben said...

I can't believe that no one commented on the Educated Burgher! I always found it a comfortable compromise between the hushed reverence demanded by Louis' and the arterial combat endured at the Doodle (which has, sadly, closed). Ah, New Haven.

Silk Regimental said...

I love they way nothing ever changes at J. Press. I was there this summer and it was just as it was 10 and 20 and 30 years ago.

The Gant Campus store used to Arthur Rosenberg store - great suits and another great place to shop, but it slipped away somewhere in the 80 after I moved to Florida.

Barrie Ltd. Bootery passed into oblivion in the late 90s I think.

Christmas shopping in New Haven in the 60s was wonderful. The trio on York St and the Yale Co-op with those wonderful "Co-op Sweaters" were just the ticket to make any man or woman happy on Christmas morning.

I love your photos.

Happy Christmas!


Ibn Mark said...

Not surprising considering Gant’s just trying to cash in on the Ivy/Trad/Americana trend. They’re now selling mediocre shirts with Yale Co-op tags. Seems pretty gimmicky to me.