Gant Rugger

Fashion & Style

On a modest block down Bleecker, Gant’s Rugger storefront displays a vintage styled bicycle, a casual stack of button-down shirts, and a well-worn Craftsman toolbox. A tray filled with a tailor’s accoutrements of thread, fabric, and scissors lay about the window. Out front, with its small cafe table and chairs, it’s easy to say that the shop is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. In its recent resuscitation, the line has been impressive – vintage styles revived through smarter fits, improved fabrics, and modern details. We jumped at the chance for a preview of the new space and to chat with Rugger’s head designer and sometime bicycle producer, Christopher Bastin.

Though Gant’s official inception dates to 1949, Bernard Gantmacher (gant macher meaning cuff maker) had been manufacturing shirts for Brooks Brothers and J Press since the 1920’s. His symbol – a diamond with the letter G – was used in identifying his productions. Turning passion into business, the mark was later adopted as Gant’s logo when Bernard formed the company with his sons in New Haven, Connecticut. The company’s small family roots in shirt making and its archive have been Bastin’s primary source in distinguishing and developing the Rugger line. A professed vintage junkie, he’s spent years trawling ebay and late nights poking around the company’s repositories for those unwonted pieces of Gant history. Original patterns. Deadstock buttons. Old stationery. Intact are the quirky and traditional details like the cut locker loop on the shirt back – which meant that the person wearing the shirt was spoken for – and the shirt tail imprint that served as a factory lot identifier. Surprises like the pin-up girl patch, visible only when sleeves are rolled, was something he added as a nod to the hand painted ones adorning the back of neckties from the mid-century. With the addition of thoughtful appurtenances like pearlized buttons, selvedge oxford, and the perfect weight madras, Bastin has refined the line into a simple, handsome collection. It’s clear that a reverence for history is duly noted within the store’s 700 square feet. The industrial fixtures and lighting (with fluorescent bulbs) are an homage to the factory floor and speak to Gant’s tailoring tradition. An old sewing machine, stationed at the back, sits cozy among its wood, metal, and brick surroundings. And easily the best dressing room in the city, Rugger replicates Bernard Gant’s frosted glass office replete with vintage photos and assorted ephemera – turning the tedious into pleasure!

Being the first Rugger outpost, there is already a mutual excitement between the shop and neighborhood. It’s not difficult to imagine the shop being a favorite among locals. Like the sewing machine inside, it fits just fine. While having a cigarette outside, Bastin professes to have the best job in the world. It would be hard to argue with him on that.

353 Bleecker St, NYC

Mon-Sat 11am-8pm
Sun 11am-7pm