Sponsors
Billabong ▲ +0.010 | PPR ▲ +0.80 | American Apparel ▲ +0.07 | The Buckle ▼ -0.99 | Columbia ▼ -0.38 | Deckers Outdoor ▼ -1.94 | Dicks ▼ -0.92 | Foot Locker ▼ -4.02 | Genesco ▼ -3.05 | Iconix Brand Group ▼ -2.52 | Jarden Corp ▼ -0.17 | Nordstrom ▼ -0.42 | Luxottica ▲ +0.45 | Nike ▼ -2.24 | Pacific Sunwear ▼ -0.05 | Skullcandy ▼ -0.04 | Sport Chalet - 0 | Urban Outfitters ▼ -0.15 | VF Corp ▼ -1.17 | Quiksilver ▲ +0.46 | Zumiez ▼ -0.62 | Macys ▼ -1.48 | Tillys ▲ +0.15 |
Ticker Sponsor
Readers Say
I require all our executives to read it
I require all our executives to read it

There is no better publication that I am aware of that is so accurate and on top of any news and developments in our industry. I personally recommend it to many people that want to know and understand more about our industry. For the most part, shop-eat-surf.com gets the stories first. As a matter of fact, I require all the executives in our company to read it.

- By Hezy Shaked, President & CEO, Tilly's
The most up-to-date information
The most up-to-date information

“Shop-Eat-Surf is a great source for the most up to date information of what is going on in our industry. I always enjoy reading the articles and appreciate the effort from Tiffany and her team."

- By Richard Woolcott, CEO and Founder, Volcom
Industry Insight

AGENDA: GroupY's Emerge brand-building conference returns on Jan. 6.
SURFRIDER: "Protect What You Love" holiday appeal.
MOSS ADAMS: Plan now for tax season.
Details on Industry Insight.


Tiffany Montgomery
Print This Article

Hanging at Michael Tomson's house

By Tiffany Montgomery
September 07, 2007 7:15 AM

I spent some time Wednesday with Michael Tomson, the former professional surfer and design guru/owner of Gotcha, a groundbreaking brand in the 1980s and 90s.


We grabbed coffee at Andree's Patisserie in Laguna Beach then went to his house to look at the book he is writing. "Going Big: Gotcha and the Evolution of Surf Style" will be published in January.

Michael TomsonMichael Tomson at home in Laguna. He also has an apartment
in New York and a house in Hawaii. Michael thinks surf companies
need to take more design chances.


We also talked about the state of the industry. He thinks surf companies have gotten a bit stale and need to move out of "safe mode."


Michael and partner Joel Cooper, a friend from college in South Africa, started Gotcha out of a small house in Laguna in 1978 using the garage as a warehouse. They went from zero to $120 million in revenue in seven years, Michael said, and created some ground-breaking styles, marketing and product categories for surf clothes in the process.


The two sold the company in 1997. By then, the brand had lost its way.


Michael's design sense is very respected in the industry and he works as a consultant for several surf brands. One president of a local surf company calls him a "rock star."


Michael, 52, loves the industry, but is frustrated by what he sees as the lack of risk taking. The bigger the companies get, the safer they play things fashion-wise, he said. Everybody copies everyone else, Michael said, and each season offer slight tweaks to last seasons styles instead of breaking out in a new direction.


"It's rear view mirror," he said. "They've got to take chances. Throw it out there. Run the risk of looking silly. For every one that's a dud, two will hit."


Michael thinks the lack of original thinking is hurting industry sales overall. With no innovative styles in stores, consumers have no reason to buy something new. It's the perfect opportunity for a new or existing brand to make a move, he said.


"This is the time to really step out," he said. "I certainly see a lot of opportunities on the product and marketing level."


I asked him why he didn't start a new brand, and he was non-committal. Been there, done that, I guess.


He'll be at the ASR trade show in San Diego this weekend, talking to friends and checking things out. In addition to his other projects, he consults with a company in Tokyo that's involved in the industry, looking for potential licensing or acquisition deals. The company also owns the Japanese rights to Gotcha and Counter Culture, and Michael designs collections for both in Japan.


He also forecasts trends, and here's his insight into spring lines: Look for men's shorts to grow shorter and the return of neon colors.


Articles You Might Have Missed