GANT Watches Heritage

The Start Of A Long Journey

The story of GANT begins with a Ukrainian boy in search of a better life who sailed to America, fell in love, found success and forever changed American style.

gant watches history

GANT has a rich heritage which begins with a Ukrainian boy who was searching for a better life. He sailed to America, fell in love, found success and forever changed American style.

Miller’s son was called Berl Gantmacher and was from Miropol in Ukraine. By the time he was a teenager he had already made his way from the Russian Empire to Rotterdam. He didn’t stop in Rotterdam though, he continued west where he embarked on the S.S. Potsdam, a Holland America Line steamship which was sailing to New York City and there are even archives at Ellis Island record him arriving on November 12, 1907 when he was 17 years old.

Many Jewish immigrants before him changed their name so make it more Americanised. His first name Berl became Bernard and as soon as he put his first foot on American soil he set about improving himself. It wasn’t long before he enrolled in night classes at Columbia University’s College of Pharmacy however he needed to also be able to fund himself living in the sunny state so he found work during the day working in the city’s bustling garment industry on the Lower East Side.

It was noted that he found his job as a “closer” really hard. A closer was someone who assembles garments however he managed to turn it in to a positive by using it to develop his entrepreneurial zeal and taught him how to tailor to a professional level. At this job he was introduced to Rebecca Rose, a woman who also worked at the same garment warehouse sewing buttonholes and buttons. This woman would later become his wife.

It wasn’t long until the First World War erupted and Bernard joined the US Army to fight in France. Once Bernard completed his military service he decided to return to New York with a renewed desire to succeed. He shortly graduated from college, married Rebecca, and decided to take the risk of going into business for himself. With his partner Morris Shapiro he founded the Par-Ex Shirt Company based in Brooklyn. Par-Ex made shirts par excellence for other brands, including Brooks Brothers. The new company was a success, and in 1927 the Par-Ex Shirt Company relocated to upscale New Haven, Connecticut.

gant watches history

GANT’S history all began in 1949 with shirts and they’ve never stopped reinventing them every since.  When you’re wearing a GANT shirt you’re not just wearing a shirt, you’re wearing the brands rich legacy and history. GANT’S founder Bernard Gantmacher had huge drive and dedication to quality whilst his sons Marty and Elliot’s had a unique sense for style and business and it was this that proved to be a winning formula for GANT.

“Having a legacy is something that sets you apart and gives you authenticity and credibility – and most importantly it gives you a platform and security as a brand.” Christopher Bastin, Creative Director of GANT

gant watches

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Bernard Gantmacher decided to establish GANT Inc after much encouragement from his sons and started to design and manufacture shirts under the company’s own label.  It couldn’t have been in a better location as at the time the town of New Haven was one of America’s epicentres of clothing manufacture. A main reason for this was that its large community of Italian immigrants, many of whom were talented garment workers which was perfect for Bernard Gantmacher and his family.

The Gantmachers business was seeing a lot of success and grew at a impressive rate as did their family. Two of Bernard and Rebecca’s children, Marty and Elliot, would go on to continue on the GANT success. Marty and Elliot were two inspirational boys who were born in 1921 and 1926. They grew up in New Haven and helped at the shirt factory as soon as they were able by sweeping floors and fusing collars getting hands on wherever they could to be able to gain experience and better the company as well as their family name. The two boys were also aware of what was happening on the campus of nearby Yale University, which would change the course of American fashion.

Unfortunately news of the outbreak of World War II quickly spread and it wasn’t long until they were looking for young able men to join up and fight for their country. This interrupted their careers as both sons enlisted in the army. It would be a while until their return however upon arriving they quickly set about finding or and a job. They both enrolled and managed to get places at the University of Connecticut. It is here that Marty focused in business administration while Elliot put all his efforts into marketing. Then, armed with their new skills, they went back into the family business.

After many discussions the two brothers came to the conclusion that America was entering a period of profound change and it was coming about very quickly. The second war had really blown away so many old traditions. There was so many new industries appearing and new businesses were popping up all over the place: art, music and fashion were spreading across the nation. Marty and Elliot seized this opportunity and managed to get their father on board. They left the Par-Ex and the contracting business behind and instead of making clothing for other labels, they would sell perfectly tailored shirts under their own label.

In April 1949, GANT Inc. was born.

Author: Aaron Davis

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