Welcoming johnnie-O’s new CEO, John Collins

We are excited to announce that John Collins has joined the johnnie-O team as our Chief Executive Officer and Board Member. As CEO, John Collins (aka, JC) will succeed Dave Gatto, who has played an instrumental role in johnnie-O's journey as CEO and Board Director since January 2015. Dave will retire this year after a remarkable career, including the nearly nine years he spent building the johnnie-O brand and positioning it for future expansion.

Collins began his distinguished career with Patagonia in 1996, where he spent over two decades championing brand storytelling that captivates consumers, creating quality products with clear consumer benefits, and developing robust omnichannel retail strategies. His extensive experience includes leadership roles in domestic and international sales and general management, showcasing his ability to connect with consumers globally and drive brand growth in the competitive retail environment.

"This is an important and exciting moment in the company's growth," said Collins. “As a johnnie-O customer, I was already aware of our great product and when I dug deeper, I found a fantastic community of people. From our employees to our customers, johnnie-O resonates so well, and I am grateful that Dave Gatto, John O'Donnell, and the larger johnnie-O team are entrusting me to help lead the brand into its next phase.”

In his new role, Collins will focus on accelerating the growth of johnnie-O's business through increased brand investment and omnichannel expansion, including wholesale and branded retail development. He will also employ strategic digital and DTC-led initiatives to support sustained brand growth and explore entering new product categories to better serve johnnie-O consumers.

We sat down with JC to learn more about his story and career and discuss what he is most excited about as he joins the j-O team…read on below!

Let’s start with an easy one: can you tell us how you started in the retail industry?

JC: Oh man, I need to go back in the archives for that one. I started in high school working at various ski shops in Connecticut. I grew up skiing and ski racing, so it was the first time I saw how my passions in life could translate to my daily work life, and I have stayed true to that throughout my career. Later, I owned and operated a fly-fishing retail store, school, and guide service operation in Newport, RI, where I found my connection to Patagonia.

What are some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned over the course of your career?


  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. I learned that early on as a sales rep. You need to be really on top of your business and question it at times to make sure it is sustainable and repeatable for your customers.
  • Tell the truth, there is less to remember. I stole that one from a bar on Maui, but it is a great philosophy. The less you B.S. yourself and others, the more you trust one another and get things done more efficiently.
  • The dollars will come. This was a chestnut from my grandfather when he told me that, rather than chase money and success, I should follow my passions in life and in work while giving my best effort every day, and success would come from that. He was spot on.
  • Celebrate success and get humble quickly. We should always celebrate our successes, and each other and then right away ask how we can continue to improve in all that we do. Arrogance breeds complacency and can be the death of any career or organization.

What are some of your priorities for your first year on the job at j-O? Where do you see the brand in 5 years?

JC: I am looking forward to helping the company evolve and building upon its strong foundation as I continue to listen and learn, and there are a few key areas that are top of mind. Elevating the johnnie-O brand is my first priority. More people need to know who we are, our story, and how we are different. I’m also excited about our Omni-Channel and eCommerce improvements, as once people know who we are, we need to make it easy to buy from us. These two are related, as we need a seamless shopping experience for our customers across all channels. Customer service at j-O is top-notch, and I want to build upon that with even better tools for the seamless shopping experience I mentioned above. We will also invest in ensuring we have the right people and systems in place for our inventory and demand planning to always have the right product in the right place at the right time.

In five years, I see johnnie-O as a respected leader in the apparel space for Men’s and Boy’s (and soon-to-be-announced additional categories as well.) I say that confidently as we have an amazing team, great product, and a community people want to be a part of that grows with us because we support them with great products and service. I see us never taking ourselves too seriously, as we represent fun in whatever form our customers find it. One thing is for certain: we will forge our own path, or like our founder John O’Donnell likes to ask, “Who’s to say you can’t do something the way you want”?

What new trends or ideas in the retail industry are most exciting to you?

JC: Great question, but a hard answer, as so much is being thrown at customers today to get their business. With a premium brand like ours, it will be about the fundamentals of great quality, service, and staying connected to our customers. I see johnnie-O as more about functional style than fast fashion, and in the same way, we want to be about solid fundamentals rather than retail gimmicks or tricks. We are grateful for every customer that supports johnnie-O, and let’s never forget to show that.

What is your favorite j-O product and why?

JC: Yikes. That is like asking a parent who their favorite kid is. I love my Cash Cashmere Blend Hoodie a lot, and across the board, I love the feel and fit of our products, as I feel comfortable but stylish. Or more simply said, I may not be good lookin’, but I’m lookin’ good.

If there is one legacy – or lasting impression – you could [will!] leave in the retail space, what would you want it to be?

JC: In the retail space, it would be that I always thought of our customers first. Whether that is a vendor partner, a retail partner, or the person buying our products, I want to be known for caring about those relationships, providing value, and operating with the highest integrity. For those I work with, I want to be known as someone who motivates people to bring their best every day, who inspires the team, and who likes to have a few laughs along the way together.