Golden Goose

I take a lot of walks around Manhattan and, when I'm walking, I often look down, mostly out of necessity. I'm always dodging trash, shuffling through a crowded subway station, or navigating a group of tourists and it helps to keep an eye on where my feet are going.

It also means that I spy a lot of shoes and get a sense of the city's most in-demand styles.

Perennial favorites include the usuals from Nike, YEEZY, HOKA ONE ONE, and Skechers, the kinda stuff you'll see in any metropolitan zone.

There's one outlier that I cannot square for the life of me, though.

Day or night, rain or shine, summer or winter, I almost always see a couple pairs of Golden Gooses walking around. And, unlike the shoes themselves, I'm actually distressed.

Covered in faux scuffs and lurid animal print, Golden Goose shoes are like an Ed Hardy shirt for your feet. Except, unlike the Y2K holdouts that populate Depop and thrift stores, Golden Goose shoes retail for upwards of $600 and are available at any number of tastemaking boutiques.

It's acceptable for luxury items to be expensive; that's not my problem at all.

No, I just can't comprehend why anyone would want to cough up the better part of four figures for a pair of these sparkly, pre-distressed sneakers.

From an aesthetic perspective alone, Golden Goose is borderline traumatizing. For instance, they currently offer pairs with horrifying sparkles and fur, leather flowers, and some truly terrifying ripped denim.

Sure, Golden Goose offers sneakers without faux wear and minimal patterns but I haven't seen any of those strolling through New York, though they did receive an Off-White™ co-sign a while back.

Founded in 2000, Golden Goose has enjoyed remarkable success, all things considered. It's still an independent label — despite a big injection of funds from Dr. Martens owner Permira — but reported revenue of over $300 million in 2019 and operates dozens of international flagship stores that peddle its sneakers and apparel collections (which include, no joke, pre-distressed socks).

It's both impressive and tragic.

I just cannot wrap my head around how these ultra-maximalist — but otherwise quite boring — shoes generate international appeal. Like I said, it's fine for luxury stuff to be expensive but how can anything this visually upsetting cost this much and still fly off shelves?

I mean, forget paying more for sneakers that already look worn in: when will we collectively rise up and reject the sparkly sneaker? Cow print? Snakeskin AND metallic green leather!?!

Even controversy can't slow Golden Goose's ascension. Several years ago, the Italian company received some blowback for some extra-blown-out sneakers fitted with faux tape, as if they were actually falling apart.

As social media lit up with commenters complaining about Golden Goose making a mint off of shoes seemingly inspired by poverty, it hit back with a statement that claimed inspiration from "West Coast skater culture."

Sounds like a cop-out to me but that must've been a good enough excuse, because Golden Goose both skirted backlash and continued to sell an iteration of the taped-up shoes for a cool $667.

To put it simply, Golden Goose baffles me.

Put the price and marketing faff about "quality" aside — I assume we've all moved beyond the idea that "Made in Italy" automatically equals good — and, even then, you've still got some indefensible sneakers.

I know it's a status thing with all these famous folks wearing them but so what? Unlike, say low-rise jeans and barely-there cardigans, I simply cannot imagine a compelling argument to justify mid-top sneakers with a silver stripe, leopard print, glued soles (!) and TWO different brogued panels.

And, hey, if comfort is all you ask for, there are plenty of dad shoes that fill the bill quite nicely. And, having seen nearly as many of those on the streets of NY, I can say that I much prefer to glimpse those instead.

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