Golden Goose bets in-store cobblers will appeal to sneakerheads
Golden Goose, the upstart maker of $500 sneakers, is turning back the clock to keep pace with its trendy Generation Z fans, staffing its stores with trained cobblers to help meet demand for products that won’t end up in a landfill.
The Italian brand, a favorite of Selena Gomez
“At a time of standardized production, we want to engage with the client in the creative process and encourage loyalty,” said Campara, who helped reposition a small Venetian fashion firm into a vintage-inspired brand whose 2022 sales grew 30% to about €500 million ($548 million). “We also want to show them the value of repairing old shoes instead of throwing them away.”
Golden Goose, which is controlled by Permira
It could make a good fit with the company’s core demographic: more than 80% of Golden Goose buyers are Millenials or from Gen Z, Campara said, and they put a premium on breaking out of the throwaway-product cycle.
Tailoring and repair, now available at Golden Goose locations including Milan, New York and Dubai, extends sneaker lifecycles and reduces environmental impact, the CEO said. The goal is to have about 70 cobblers at some 10 key stores and at a Golden Goose repair hub near Venice.
For cobbler Marco Zanin, who’s worked at Golden Goose since 2019, shoe repair is second nature. The 36-year-old Venetian said he “grew up surrounded by shoes — when I was a child I played next to my aunt who crafted vamps,” as upper portions are called.
And while old-world artisans might seem to be a strange fit in a fashion setting like downtown Milan, where Zanin works today, diehard “sneakerheads” have proved enthusiastic about the cobbler program, he said.
“The kids who come in are curious, they want to know everything about the shoes and how to master working on them,” said Zanin, who studied urban planning and worked as a DJ before joining Golden Goose. While the brand’s young buyers have long used sneakers as a sort of “blank slate to add on details,” the cobbler program adds the possibility to “rebuild, rework and refurbish them,” he said.
Innovations directed at young buyers are something of an obsession for Golden Goose, and at 43 years old, the sneaker maker’s CEO exudes a stylish, youthful demeanor that suggests a deep insight into the casual fashion world.
But Campara says he’s not taking chances in misinterpreting the rapidly changing tastes of his core demographic. He set up a “Gen. Z board” at the company to delve into what customers are thinking, and proudly notes that, with over two thirds of his workforce under 32, he has more insight into young buyers than many competitors.
Golden Goose has already passed through the hands of three global investment groups. Carlyle Group
The current fashion landscape suffers from “a lack of artisan manpower,” Campara said. To stand out in a crowded field, he wants to bring on board people who are “not simply workmen but artisans, who we are training ourselves for this purpose.”