May 18th, 2011 | Uncategorized

In which we consider Gant’s “New Haven Math Club” ad

Gant, the old-timey outfitter on the corner of York Street, released a ridiculous promotional video/meme for its Fall Rugger line.

The ad (see below) stars a number of dainty, handsome models with perfect bedhead who are clearly not from New Haven. The three-minute clip attempts to link smart and sexy by making this gang of hyper-intelligent models members of an elite “New Haven Math Club.” The club, however, focuses less on actual smarts and more on “looking smart.” The models, or “titans of thought” as a 1950s-style narrator calls them, flex their cheekbones and hold their hands just so while they concentrate deeply on a game of chess.

Never mind what one could learn on any trip to Science Hill! The ad implies that fashion sense correlates directly with academic success in math and science.

“Popped collars are not for scholars,” the narrator instructs. “Only ruffians wear their jacket in this manner.”

“Take it from the New Haven Math Club: if you dress smart, your mind will surely follow,” he goes on to say.

Indeed, much of the video promotes outdated ideas about merit and birthrights that many would associate, negatively, with Old Yale. At the end of the clip, a panel appears on the screen stating that the New Haven Math Club is “proving good genes and good looks can provide you with answers to problems others may be unable to solve.” We could go on longer, but we think that quote says it all. Oy.

This is not the first Gant ad to feature New Haven, the retailer’s historical hometown — in January, the company released a YouTube video titled “Gangs of New Haven” to promote its Spring and Summer Rugger line. This video, too, features beautiful white people living leisurely in softly-tinted light.