Michael Bastian has partnered with Gant to create a cobranded collection for the fall 2010 season.

To be sold under the Michael Bastian for Gant label, the 50-piece line will be sold at Gant stores in key markets, including the U.S., Europe and Asia, beginning next July. It will also be wholesaled to select specialty retailers.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“We are approached for collaborations quite a bit, but for me it has to be something that plays to my strengths,” said Bastian of the agreement. “When Gant approached me about this, I met with them a few times, went through their archives and thought we could really have something to say.”

The agreement has the opportunity to continue after the fall 2010 season if both parties agree.

“When I was thinking about doing a designer collaboration, every time I was in a store I would always end up at Michael Bastian,” said Ari Hoffman, chief executive officer of Gant USA. “He’s so Gant. This is such an authentic collaboration.”

The deal brings to Gant the buzz factor and designer credentials of Bastian, who was nominated for the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award in both 2008 and 2009. For Bastian, who launched his label in 2006, the partnership offers him the opportunity to reach a broader audience via Gant’s global distribution network and accessible price points — in addition to the financial benefits of such a deal.

The Michael Bastian for Gant collection includes tailored jackets and pants, outerwear, jeans, woven shirts, knits, scarves, belts, gloves, hats and bags. It will be priced 15 to 20 percent higher at retail than core Gant offerings, which currently run about $400 to $600 for a blazer, $100 to $135 for a shirt, and $90 to $150 for knits.

In comparison, Michael Bastian’s own collection prices average about $1,795 for a tailored jacket, $395 for a shirt and $595 to $1,200 for a sweater. His label is made in Italy under license by Brunello Cucinelli, and distributed in 54 stores worldwide, including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Jeffrey, Forty Five Ten, Confederacy and Japan’s Isetan and United Arrows. Bastian rang up sales of over $3 million in 2008.

The collection has Gant’s youthful Rugger line as the foundation of its fits, and Bastian has used pieces from the Gant archives as a starting point for his designs. Fabrics are being finalized and final details on the collection will be completed in August, with samples shown to retailers and Gant’s internal buyers at the end of this year.

“We made a conscious decision to start from an existing Gant base and stay true to its heritage,” he explained. “I see this guy as the younger brother of the Michael Bastian guy. He’s a little sportier, maybe just graduated college and he needs a good sport coat. By nature, with my own line made in Italy, it’s become a hybrid of European and American. With this Gant collection it’s an opportunity to make something that’s really clean and very American.”

Gant was founded by shirtmaker Bernard Gant in New Haven in 1949 and developed into a quintessential East Coast collegiate brand. More recently, however, it’s been infused with a somewhat European sensibility, as ownership of the company moved to Stockholm-based Gant AB in 1999. Last year, Switzerland-based Maus Frères SA, owner of the worldwide apparel license for Lacoste, acquired the company.

“One of the key reasons Gant is interested in this type of partnership with Michael Bastian is to ensure a true American perspective,” noted Douglas Geller, director of marketing at Gant USA.

Gant currently operates over 500 freestanding stores, with a presence in 70 countries. In the U.S. there is one flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue. The brand is wholesaled to about 200 U.S. doors, including Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Kitson.

This is the second designer collaboration Gant has executed in recent years. For five seasons the brand sold a cobranded collection from retailer Jeffrey Kalinsky, with that partnership ending this past spring.

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