DOING WHAT YOU LOVE
By Craig Kaminer
While browsing iconic department stores and boutiques in New York during the height of the pandemic, it was clear the trend of luxury sneakers is still hot and here to stay. The handmade Italian fashion footwear line Golden Goose best reflects how people are living, working, commuting, and dressing now and for the foreseeable future. The line of distressed sneakers and bags started as a passion project of founders Francesca Rinaldo and Alessandro Gallo, a couple from Venice who were outsiders to the world of fashion. Since its inception in 2000, it has grown from a company of $20 million in sales to more than $320 million in 2020. Golden Goose expects to grow another 35 percent in 2021 and has attracted private equity Permira, a British global investment firm, and fashion industry superstars Silvio Campara to serve as CEO and Maureen Chiquet as Chairwoman to build the global brand.
Although competing with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and Christian Louboutin, Golden Goose has emerged as a distinctively excellent Italian brand inspired by vintage fashion -- initially because the founders didn’t have the money to buy new luxury goods. Shoe prices start at $500 for men, women, and kids. While expensive, they are roughly half the price of other luxury brand sneakers. In a world of fashion sameness, Golden Goose customers are as original as the brand; seeking creativity, authenticity and relevance to make a personal statement and reinforce the uniqueness of their identities.
According to Silvio, “Everything we do at Golden Goose goes against what I learned before I came here from Alexander McQueen and Armani. We are about scarcity, word of mouth, and making people feel relevant...not important. I was asked to not work the way I had before, not to worry about replenishment or assortment, but rather to focus exclusively on customizing the fashion and the experience for every customer. At first it was hard as it went against everything I thought I knew, but I decided I just needed to trust the vision and grow the business without changing the founding values.” The results speak for themselves.
What started with 17 employees is now 750 strong and the company recently moved into new headquarters in Milan. “Just like the day the company started, we still know each other, we still love each other, and we still trust each other,” Silvio adds. “Seventy percent of the employees are women, from every race and religion, and always very international. We embrace talent above all else -- the best people with the best hearts. We don’t hire the best professionals we can find because that limits our possibilities. We hire inspired people and let them focus on what makes them unique.”
According to Maureen Chiquet, former CEO of Chanel and a native St. Louisan, “Golden Goose is more than a brand. It's a family of creative, passionate, soulful, visionary people. One thing I loved about working for Chanel was the emphasis on perfection in everything they did but the one thing I love about working for Golden Goose is the emphasis on the perfect imperfection!”
With the majority of its consumers being Millennials and GenZ, the emphasis is on the individual. “We give our customers comfort and authenticity first, then cool. But the brand really caters to anyone who is passionate about life,” says the very passionate CEO.
The pandemic helped Golden Goose understand the importance of their brand’s values of family first, positivity, creativity and hope for the future. The main goal of its newest collection is to convey a positive message of hope and of a fresh start. In these times of uncertainty, creativity becomes an uplifting response. “CREATIVITY IS THE ANSWER” became the company’s motto and a recurring sentence used extensively throughout the collection. Going back not only to its founding values but also to the brand identity, the new collection is called ReStar, which perfectly narrates the values and the real DNA of the brand. Bold statements such as Rethink, Future, Happiness, Kindness in the Small Things, Do What You Love, and Creativity is the Answer are printed or embroidered on T-shirts and sweatshirts, embellished with jacquard or flock print on knitwear, and embroidered with studs and Swarovski crystals on leather and denim. A deep sense of freedom underlies the whole collection with its balance between easy and versatile pieces in jersey and knitwear, or in leather and denim -- all of these garments being very effective means of spreading these messages of positivity.
Images of beautiful landscapes are used in some pieces to suggest the freedom of outdoor adventure and the willingness to begin traveling again. Golden Goose artisanal craftsmanship is fully manifested in the Dream Maker collection through the use of different treatments adapted to the different categories, recreating the distinctive Golden Goose lived-in touch. To reinforce the importance of positivity, love, and being connected to each other, Golden Goose launched another initiative to encourage customers to join its creative community and work together on its designs. Believing that the energy of a collective is able to overcome any type of obstacles and that the most outstanding results can only be achieved through cooperation and co-creation, the company is inviting everyone to participate in a new activity called the “Dream Maker.”
Dream Maker challenges people’s creativity and invites them to become an active part of the design process. In order to do so, Golden Goose decided to design a few garments on which the customers can give their final touch by themselves, adding their personal twist to these pieces following some specific input and guidelines given by the design team. This ensures a desired and appropriate outcome and pushes customers’ imaginations and creativity.
For example, several T-shirts and sweatshirts come with small pieces of tape on which the customer can finish a brief sentence already written on it by adding a personal message with a colored marker that comes in a tool package included with the purchase of the garment. Other T-shirts come with numbered dots that customers can connect by embroidering through them and then discovering the outline of the Golden star. These T-shirts come with a small kit containing colored thread to use for the embroidery. Other sweatshirts feature hand-sewn fabric patches on the back which the customer can decide to leave them on or remove them with the use of scissors to reveal a printed picture underneath.
All these Dream Maker garments come with a QR code on the tag. By scanning it, the customer will be redirected to a guide on how to properly customize that specific piece. The brand is asking its lovers to push their creativity to the limits and work together on some of its most memorable styles, ranging from ready-to-wear pieces to footwear and accessories.
The intertwining of ideas has always been one of the structural pillars of Golden Goose's design ethos: how the experiential pedigree of one notion or an object could develop and flourish in a completely different context, as seen or perceived through the eyes of someone else. It’s a journey of love, co-creation, and imagination.
What Golden Goose does best is bring out the emotions of their customers in all of its designs. The company’s singular focus on their customers who, above all else, are passionate about life comes through. Even if the designs are not your thing, it’s hard not to be inspired by their vision, dedication, and success.
Visit goldengoose.com to shop today!