With the Cook GANT Rugger collection, Christopher Bastin unites two unlikely partners.
Fashion’s relationship with food hasn’t always been the most natural of constellations, but in a world where fine cuisine plates are better dressed than salads, it was only a matter of time before someone came along and changed the rules. As his first initiative since his Creative Director title at GANT Rugger was extended to cover the entire Swedish fashion empire that is GANT last year, for autumn/winter 12 Christopher Bastin has introduced Cook GANT Rugger, a collection morphing the modish restaurant scene of downtown New York with the all-American Ivy League sportswear legacy of GANT, which the Rugger line is based on. Taking inspiration from the food as well as the chefs who cook it (the chefs from The Fat Radish in New York feature in the campaign), the collection draws on an unfuzzy, clean-cut aesthetic, which fuses work wear with tailoring – with no gimmicky nods to food apart from an apron, rest assured. Before GANT is set to open its first-ever standalone GANT Rugger store in London next season, i-D online met up with Christopher Bastin for a culinary conversation.
Are you a real gourmand type of person? I think I am, actually.
Is that where Cook GANT Rugger came from? Yeah, and when we found that connection between what was going on in New York on the restaurant scene and what we were doing, it was like, “Yay.” Because my only interest aside from my work – and my wife and my kids, of course – is to cook and eat and drink. So once we started talking about working with it, it seemed right.
Why were you particularly inspired by New York? I think everything that happens in the US resonates very heavily, especially within our world and within sportswear. The whole tofu movement – organically produced stuff and so on – became truly relevant in the US five or six years ago, even though it started in Italy twenty years ago. It coincided with what we were doing with Gant Rugger three or four years back and it kind of evolved at the same time.
In what sense? When we re-launched Gant Rugger under my direction for spring/summer 2010 and started tapping into the Gant legacy with the whole Ivy League heritage, it coincided with going back to the roots food-wise. Less is more. And we were thinking the same thing with our clothing as well: getting it down to basics and working a lot more on the small subtle details instead of overdoing everything. And I love to eat and drink.
Is it a sense of minimalism, then? I wouldn’t go as far as calling it minimalism, because when we talk about style and fashion that has a completely different meaning to most people, but when it comes to sportswear and our kind of style, maybe, yeah. We wanted to de-brand what we did and tone down the logos on everything. We took it down to the bare essentials. I’ve never actually thought of it that way.
It goes hand-in-hand with this Nordic food trend where you get a tiny drop of something on a rock or some sort of special little leaf on a big white plate. Noma… Where I haven’t been, by the way. I would love to go but it seems impossible to get a table. The discussion about minimalism is interesting, though, because at Gant we always come back to how this Scandinavian minimalism has affected us and the answer is, it hasn’t, really. Instead of looking back at our Scandinavian background, we look back at Gant as a brand and the way American sportswear looked when it was worn in the 40s and 50s. It was extremely minimalist in the sense that was what it was.
Text: Anders Christian Madsen