For GANT, it all began with shirts and they’ve never stopped reinventing them since. Born in 1949, it’s a company that is rich in legacy and history. In this article, RLI speaks with current CEO Brian Grevy about the enduring legacy of the brand and what the future looks like.
Driven by the simple idea to never stop learning, it is this belief that has guided the company for 70 years ever since Bernard Gantmacher founded the shirt-making company in the college town of New Haven, Connecticut. From Ivy League to American sportswear, GANT today continues to define the casual-yet smart look in more than 800 stores globally, with plans in place to continue opening stores, with 25 more planned to open their doors this year alone. “In the past 12 months we have seen a growth in brand awareness, meaning our brand activities across all consumer touch-points are resonating with our target consumer,” explains Brian Grevy, CEO of GANT. “This is a result of moving from 3 divisions to One GANT that allows us to be much more explicit in our communication and interaction with consumers and customers globally.”
The country where they have enjoyed a strong presenc in the market since the 1990s, and during spring GANT Portugal became part of the GANT Group of subsidiaries. The focus in Portugal is now on retail expansion across the country. The first GANT store opened in Oeiras on 12 April and this was followed by the Amoreiras at the beginning of July. Outside of Portugal, a focus area is its continuing expansion of the business across Asia. “On a brand side, we have a lot in the pipeline, with some very exciting product launches, new and differentiated marketing activities and hopefully the launch of a new flagship format,” says Grevy.
Grevy believes staying at the cutting edge is crucial, as there is no doubt today’s consumer is all about trends, he believes that timeless trends are in higher demand than ever so retailers need to be smart. “We want to stay authentic to our preppy American sportswear heritage, but also ensure we are relevant for today’s consumer. One way of doing that is by reviving and modernising archived styles but also highlight innovation in materials and fibres, this is pivotal to our evolution,” Grevy highlights.
In the past few seasons GANT has worked very hard to have a more unified offer across markets and they are succeeding with this. Where they are aware they need differentiation they have plans for it. Examples of this are reversed seasonality, crucial differentiated selling periods like Chinese New Year, material compositions for southern and northern hemisphere and launch dates for seasonal specific products like swimwear.
As a digital first company, the brand aligns a strong digital strategy with all the appropriate departments and execute through organic and paid social, performance marketing and influencer collaborations. They have built a strong network of global toptier and micro influencers that elevates its products and conveys its messages. Social media is an excellent channel for the company to build a strong relationship with its customers and invite them to the world of GANT.
Over the last 70 years the company has created premium and highquality products based on consumer needs and wants but without neglecting their fantastic heritage. “When you put the consumer at the centre of everything you do it simplifies your full value chain and places you in a ‘sweet spot’ in the consumer’s eyes – I would say this is the key to success,” explains Grevy. “By focusing on longevity in design and innovation in product, the foundations are being laid to build a business that can withstand the inevitable challenges ahead.”
Never Stop Learning is the GANT ethos. The brand grew up on America’s East Coast and was influenced by the sense of style found on the region’s college campuses. This ethos has also shaped the company’s internal culture and served as a driving force for innovation within the company. In recent years the company has decided it was a good time to share this externally, to inspire the rest of the world to stay curious. So what does Grevy feel lies ahead and what does he perceive to be the greatest challenge facing the brand? “I see the biggest challenges to be the most significant opportunities. For us it is to create a unified consumer journey across all touch points and to build the next generation of our operational foundation, enabling the new business to deliver better services, this is of paramount importance. Looking forward, the other key opportunity is the acceleration of transforming GANT into a leading sustainable lifestyle brand, and here we are making great strides with much more to come on this topic,” Grevy concludes.