The Perry Ellis International family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Tomson. Tomson was a fashion and surf icon, having founded Gotcha and MCD, brands that have left their mark on our collective culture. Our thoughts go out to Michael's family and friends during this very difficult time.

Note From the Co-Founder: Michael Tomson

In the mid to late 80s, there was a sign in the design studios at Gotcha which read: 'We aren't just selling clothes, we're selling culture.'This was pre-social media and the concept of followers, before the whole idea of brands telling stories through their products.

Our mission always existed in a larger context with a bigger purpose. That's what has always separated Gotcha from the rest.In our eyes, we were not just making boardshorts and t-shirts. We were creating a look that embodies a lifestyle, a language, an attitude, a music sensibility; Gotcha's look would disrupt fashion houses in Milan, Paris, and Tokyo, taking surf style into a global arena.

And it worked. Gotcha catapulted the surf industry into a new realm, gave it respect and opened up the perception of surf as a legitimate category in apparel. Suddenly every major department store in the US had to have surf product on their shelves. Trade shows turned into near riots with every retailer trying to buy surf was crazy. Did we expect it? No. Did we plan for it? Hell no! We were just having fun, we were making the clothes we thought were cool and taking it from there.

Gotcha grew, in a short 10 year period, to become one of the largest and most important surf brands in the world. And we did it through innovative design and (extremely) bold advertising. The persona we created for the brand was totally unique and modern, unlike anything in the market before us. Which is why we were recognized with numerous awards for design and art direction. We created product categories that surf shops had never carried before.

It was an extremely creative period, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

Good old Days

Gotcha's first major ad campaign brought professional photography and art direction into the surf space.


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