When GANT tapped Michael Bastian to create a collection for the heritage label, those who have been paying attention weren’t expecting a radical departure from his eponymous line, they were just hoping for a pair of Bastian’s signature cut-offs for a somewhat more modest price. That’s because Bastian and GANT have always shared some serious common ground, namely, a desire to dress the American man in what works—think khakis, tweed blazers and rugby shirts—with a casual elan straight from the campus to the ski club.
Bastian began to refine his vision of Americana while working as the fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman. He left in 2006 with a line of tapered khakis and the goal of taking the pieces every man wants to fill his closet with, but updating the fit and materials. To that end, Bastian entered into a license agreement with the Italian cashmere don, Brunello Cucinelli, to produce his collections. Although something of a dark horse, Bastian was instantly recognized as a growing presence in menswear, nominated for the CFDA’s Designer of the Year award every year since he began.
He finally clinched the prize this year, just a few months after splitting with Cucinelli in a move Bastian hopes will allow him to lower price points and make the brand more accessible. In the meantime, the designer has been playing with GANT’s recent Swedish roots (GANT is now Nordic owned). Corduroy pants, puffer jackets, military shirts and embroidered khakis feel eminently lived-in and yet perfectly modern. There’s also touch of that classic GANT campus element as well, athletic pieces that include, of course, the rugby shirt.
Bastian sees the Gant line as something of a younger sibling to his own, directed at the kind of guy who might have the savvy to shop for a pair of pants at Bergdorf… but also the impishness to turn them into shorts.