Artfully distressed sneaker brand Golden Goose touched down in Los Angeles, California, on Wednesday night — well, technically the San Fernando Valley.
The Italian label took over the Pink Motel in Sun Valley for its “Golden Spirit” dinner, party and skate performance, drawing newlywed Brooklyn Peltz Beckham, actress Ashley Park, social media stars Matthew Noszka and Inanna Sarkis, tattoo artist Dr. Woo, model Paris Brosnan and more.
The midcentury, middle America-style motel was constructed in 1946 on San Fernando Road, an important thoroughfare in the development of the San Fernando Valley after World War II.
No longer a functional motel, now it’s a movie and TV set where scenes from “Grease 2,” “MacGyver” and “Dexter,” among many others, have been filmed.
It’s also a skate park that has hosted events for Red Bull, Thrasher magazine and now Golden Goose, which was looking to connect its own skate culture roots to the source of it all, Southern California. So Juneau was the star attraction, skating in a pink Golden Goose suit, natch, which was pretty cool.
The San Diego, California, native skated to a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 wearing Golden Goose’s Ball Star Pro, a sneaker he helped develop. In September 2021, Golden Goose celebrated the affiliation — and its 20th anniversary — in Venice, Italy, erecting a floating skate park on the Venice Lagoon, where Juneau also performed.
Wednesday’s event was the culmination of the “From Venice to Venice” journey (even if it was Sun Valley, which was ultimately the better party destination, organizers said).
“This is an iconic place in skate culture, where you can skate on an empty pool like the Z Boys,” said chief executive officer Silvio Campara, chatting while sipping an Americano ordered from the car hop style bar.
Founded in 2000 by skating couple Alessandro Gallo and Francesca Rinaldo, Golden Goose is now owned by Permira.
“It was important to set an ambience.…We want to unleash for people good sentiment,” the executive continued, looking out over two long dinner tables, soon to be serving Italian fare in the diner setting.
Model and influencer Natalia Bonifacci could have played the part of Sandy in “Grease,” dressed in a crystal studded Golden Goose biker jacket and leather pants. “I don’t do sneakers,” she laughed, looking down at her stiletto heels.
In between courses, Beckham and pals dropped into the venue’s Cadillac Jack Café to customize their own kicks, a new version of the Ball Star sneaker with pink tie-dye laces. Artisans were on hand studding, inking and burnishing the shoes with lighters, as well as hammering home the brand message of co-creation.
“We’re not trying to become a sport brand, that’s Nike…performance, Just Do It,” Campara said of his company’s ambitions in the skating world, stressing that the relationship with Juneau was more family-style. “The mission of Golden Goose is be unique.”
Sneakers represent 90 percent of the Golden Goose business, and even though loafers, boots and lace-ups are trending, he’s not worried. “What worries me is brands that are not consistent. In this era where trends go so fast, it’s unusual to find brands that are meant to stay. There’s an obsession with being wow, rather than being normal. We want to be normal.”
The West Coast is second to the East Coast, but America is the biggest market overall for the brand. “The U.S. is 42 percent of our business, it’s huge. Not many Italian brands can say the U.S. is their biggest market,” he said.
Golden Goose customizes and repairs sneakers and shoes, even from other brands, in every store, and recently introduced its own plant-based Yatay sneaker style. Earlier this week, the company made headlines for acquiring its main manufacturer, IFT-Italian Fashion Team.
“You can’t be flexible if you don’t have the power, the man power,” Campara explained. “Today, where is the scarcity, it’s not money, it’s not product — it’s people who do things. After COVID-19, the work market changed. To make sure you have great people, talents, who are well paid, it takes time. That’s why this was a good asset for us.”
Continuing to muse on the brand’s people power, he said, “Of our 450 employees and 1,200 employees in retail, we have almost 65 percent who are less than 32 years old, and 50 percent of that is their first job. I have a natural resource of creativity and connectivity to the audience outside. So most of the action we take is not to make more money, it’s listening to the new generation inside the company.”