In the sportswear industry, the rise and fall of companies often depends on seasonal trends. But Richard Allred is rejecting that notion by bringing the idea of timeless fashion into the equation. "It's really based on the classic surf clothing and lifestyle," says Allred of Toes on the Nose Corp., his Costa Mesa, California, company, which produces everything from board shorts and swimwear to bedding and towels. "We've got a look where a 5-year-old kid will wear the same print as his 80-year-old grandfather."
After graduating from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Allred found he was more inspired by his former classmates-who included Mossimo G. Giannulli of Mossimo Inc. and John Bernard of Spot Sport-than by his real-estate job. Gathering $110,000 from family and savings, he subleased space from Spot Sport and began to create the classic Hawaiian-print clothing he grew up with in San Diego. Today, his 7-year-old company is growing quickly-sales are expected to double from $5 million last year to $10 million this year.
Allred expects to slow down a bit in 2000 while he focuses on international markets and expanding throughout the United States. "The whole world's accessible to everyone now, and we're trying to take advantage of that," says Allred, who plans to expand into South America, as well as continue developing his markets in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Japan. "Surfing in general is hot, and we've got a look the rest of the world really wants."
And though Toes is expanding into home linens and beginning to advertise in nonsurf magazines like Teen, don't expect Allred to lose sight of his original mission. "The way we've made ourselves different is by staying totally true to what we make. Our company doesn't look any different from when we started. We may have more items and offer more variety, but our look is exactly the same," says Allred. "It's like our image and game plan is to be like In 'N' Out Burger [a Southern California hamburger chain known for its simple but well-received menu]. You know exactly what you're going to get. If you want a hamburger, you go there. If people want a classic surf look, if they want the best Hawaiian prints, they come to Toes on the Nose."