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A Piece of Sportswear History: Gant Debuts London Exhibition

Creative director Christopher Bastin discusses the health of the business and looking forward.

The Gant Archive Exhibition at Dijonss in east London. COURTESY OF GANT

LONDONGant is taking its 74-year history across the globe with an exhibition that started in New York City, is now in London until Sunday and will finish in Paris later this spring.

The showcase traces the brand’s sportswear roots — featuring caps, slogan T-shirts, rugby shirts and documents — at Dijonss, a space created by creative collective Bone Soda in East London that’s often used for installations and activities.

“The U.K. and London more specifically is a key market for Gant, both from a business and brand perspective, and we really felt it has the right audience for this type of activation. London has always been Europe’s number-one playground for all things vintage,” Christopher Bastin, creative director of Gant, told WWD.

“I have actually bought a number of pieces for our archive from London-based vintage aficionados. Needless to say, it’s a major fashion capital with massive coverage and impact,” he added.

The Gant Archive Exhibition

The space is curated by Samuel Trotman, a denim trend consultant who’s known for his Instagram account @samutaro.

“It’s always exciting to partner with a brand who is the opposite of me as it’s within this space where the best ideas arise. Prep is something that has continuously evolved throughout popular culture so it was important for me to uncover the stories that speak most to today’s generation of young fashion enthusiasts,” Trotman said in a statement.

Bastin has been building the archive since 2006 and saw this as an opportunity to celebrate the brand ahead of its 75th anniversary in 2024.

“I loved the idea of having an event where people can physically touch the pieces and even try things on if they wish. The beauty is it’s mostly shirts, nothing too fragile, so it lends itself perfectly to being displayed in this kind of way,” explain Bastin, who had the chance to play around with the brand’s heritage and legacy in a different medium than designing a new collection.

Gant said its U.K. arm of the business is “very healthy” with a wide audience of loyal customers.

The Gant Archive Exhibition

The American brand opened a store in the newly opened Battersea Power Station last fall.

“We’ve been on a rejuvenation journey over the past two to three years, which was a strategic decision to help us refocus and find our purpose again. A new store concept trial is being rolled out,” said Bastin, revealing that 2021 and 2022 were the brand’s best years to date with support from its owners, the MF Brands Group, which includes Lacoste, The Kooples, Tecnifibre and Aigle.

Bastin hinted that the Paris exhibition will be created by Manuel Schenk and will follow a similar foundation to the New York and London displays, but with a local flavor.

The Gant Archive runs from March. 30 to April. 2 at Dijonns in London.


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