The collegiate look
The 1950s were a time of unprecedented growth in the United States, and GANT shirts only helped to define the smart-casual look that dominated the post-war years. GANT’s meticulous craftsmanship and easygoing American style appealed strongly to this new generation of men who had spent hard years wearing military-issued clothing, and were now returning home to take their place in the booming middle class. Not only did these men appreciate the perfect roll of a GANT collar, and the discrete yet iconic ‘G’ found on the shirttail, but also the quality of fabric that they came to expect from a GANT shirt. Soon, they would recognize yet another characteristic that GANT was to pioneer: color.
Influenced by the city of New Haven, Connecticut, and nearby Yale University, GANT played a major role in shaping what became known as the collegiate, “Ivy League” look. First used in the 1930s to refer to a group of northeastern American colleges that were sporting rivals, the term later became synonymous with more than just sports - it denoted academic excellence, prestige, tradition and a new, relaxed style that would forever change American fashion.
For the students, the Yale Co-op store was more than just the place to stock up on toothbrushes and textbooks. The on-campus store was also where they went to buy clothing, and as the “Ivy League” look exploded, the Yale Co-op was the nexus of the new style. Founded in 1885, the store was the second-oldest university store in the United States after the Harvard COOP. It supplied generations of students with the clothes that would become collegiate essentials: natural-shoulder suits, regimental ties, V-necked sweaters, sport jackets, khakis, wing-tipped shoes and loafers – all the garments required to look cool on campus.
This new look was a way of dressing well without necessarily dressing up. It featured such items as white buckskin shoes, gray flannel slacks, button-down shirts, and jackets with a natural shoulder. It was a more casual look, presenting a sharp contrast to the double-breasted, padded-shoulder suits that dominated in the pre-war years.