If One Deceased Surfbrand Deserved Resuscitating It's Most Certainly Gotcha - Stab Mag
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*Stab is as yet unaware whether Gary Busey will be involved in Gotcha '21, but here's to hoping.

If One Deceased Surfbrand Deserved Resuscitating It’s Most Certainly Gotcha

Surf Core Heritage not thought up in a focus group.

Words by Alistair Klinkenberg

Had to be.

The sartorial world completely ran out of ideas in the 2000s, and since then we’ve been recycling, recycling, recycling. In hindsight, we can now see that the 90s were the pinnacle of fast and meaninglessly fun fashion. It seems somehow fitting to face the decline of late-stage capitalism with the biggest, most garish logos plastered across your chest. And when it comes to big, bombastic surf cos, Gotcha was top of the pile.

Once the biggest Surf Co in the world in terms of moving units — with a team to prove it, including Rob Machado, Pottz, Sunny, (brother of founder Michael Tomson) Shaun Tomson, Archy, Nathan Fletcher, Brock Little and a call sheet of other, slightly nuanced surfing greats — Gotcha burned famously bright and then crashed just as spectacularly, although you couldn’t accuse a single step of Michel Tomson’s brainchild of being boring. Thatspirit extends to Gotcha’s latest manifestation, which announced itself by collaborating with LA-based design studio/label/never-missers Brain Dead. It’s pretty much a holy grail 2021 collab for a formerly hip brand to respectfully ride the coattails of a currently hip one.

Now we’re ready to introduce Gotcha-something-point-oh, and forgive us for being rather excited about it.

The original Gotcha is a relic of the golden surf industry age, when teams/budgets/design was all being driven by those who, like Michael Tomson, defined the zeitgeist of the culture they were simultaneously enjoying the fruits of. And rake it in they did, for a brief while at least, until it became clear that no one really knew what they were doing, the GFC hit and the great unwashed decided they weren’t all that interested in surfing anyway.

Well, Jonah Hill surfs now — a shoe-in for a Gotcha advocate if they can afford him — and it’s time for surf fashion to start being, well, interesting again. Come look.

The Grow Jacket

Shells, Coach Jackets, whatever you dub them, they’re easy as to churn out, yet surprisingly difficult to get right. The Grow Jacket here is pretty much spray jacket perfection. It’s channelling the outlandish 90s with a splash of colour and some tasteful logo — no doubt plucked from the extensive Gotcha design files, some of which has Shawn Stussy’s distinguished paw prints on them — that’s been gently refined for the modern age.

Shop the style here.

The Heavy Metal Long sleeve

One major tick in the plus column of reviving a brand like Gotcha is the sheets and sheets of logos, all still in copyright and therefore kosher to use free of charge, sitting on the company hard drive. Or more likely a giant, disorganised filing cabinet that no one can find the keys to. There must be a smugness that comes with owning the originals that every brand under the sun is now trying to rip off, and the Heavy Metal LS is a good example of having fun with 90s throwback fonts and symbols without being so, obnoxious about it.

Shop the style here.

The Elijah Hat

The flat brim, five-panel, whatever you wanna call it, is a menswear must, and if you’re going to make what generally is a pretty mundane item, then you might as well have a bit of fun with it. Tartan’s a good start, especially Gotcha’s faded green take on the Scottish print, which is a nice colour combo that’s set to fade beautifully. Just don’t lose it before it hits peak sun damage.

Shop the style.

The James Pant

If you’re going to make pants then there’s zero room for error, and it’s safe to say Gotcha ’21 has nailed it. Devilish details like the neon drawstring, custom embroidery and Grateful- Dead-inspired logo patch on the back pocket help, but it’s all about cut and materials really, and the thick (not Dickies thick) canvas and straight (but with ample breathing space) fit leg is everyday pants ’21, 101.

Shop the style here.

The Talent Tee

If this graphic’s vintage then it’s all kinds of Descendents/Daniel Johnson awesome. !f it’s a ’21 original, then bravo art department. It would’ve been easy for Gotcha to come out with a load of gear that looked like Michael Tomson’s wares circa the business going tits up the first time, but that’s a pretty tried and tested formula. However, what they’ve created, with the Talent tee as an exemplary example, is a collection where you’re not quite sure whether the tees, jackets and shorts come in two days after a couple of clicks of the mouse, or have been discovered on the racks of some obscure thrift store by a determined pilferer. It’s quite the feat, that.

Shop the style here.

The Jeffreys Bay Short

We don’t wear shorts generally except for surfing and other assorted exercise, but the J-Bay knee-ticklers were too much to scroll past. First off: the belt. Much underrated some sort of in-built belt system, especially on shorts where a traditional belt feels like overkill. Zip pockets for a day on the trails or hiking around the next headland, short enough to let your hinges swing freely but not too revealing, and blue blue, electric blue.

Shop the style here.

The Queensland Polo

Without splitting hairs, I’d call this a rugby shirt. But, irregardless of definition it’s a hell of a piece and a much underrated garment. Either side of peak summer and winter, something like the Queensland Polo is your ticket to avoiding the dreaded too cold in a tee shirt/can’t find/too hot in a jumper. Slip into one of these on an autumn evening after a surf (obviously depending on where, exactly, you live) and dinner, drinks, dancing (or a quiet evening at home around the fire) can be enjoyed without the need for a change. Embrace the rugby shirt.

Shop the style here.

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