Golden Goose vs. Steve Madden Dupes – Are the GG Really Better?


I have never been known as a “sneaker girl.” Up until fairly recently, I was all about heels…the higher the better. People thought I was at least 2 inches taller because I was never without my heels. And then I got older.

And had kids.

And started visiting Shana in Philadelphia (and actually, now that I think about it, that was probably the biggest contributing factor to my becoming a sneaker girl…those Philadelphians, man…they walk EVERYWHERE. We’re talking miles a day.) And between walking all over, chasing after the kids and my feet “settling” with age (as my mom calls it–UGH) I canNOT with the heels like I used to (Am I the only one watching Real Housewives wondering How. Can. They. Do. That??)

Ironically, despite my desire to spend as little money as humanly possible on sneakers, I’ve ended up spending HUNDREDS of dollars on them. It started with buying whatever was on crazy clearance at any store we happened to be walking by in Philly because my feet were killing me.

Unfortunately, there was a reason they were on sale and most weren’t actually comfortable to walk in. So I moved on to some favorite go-to brands: I love my Converse, but can’t wear them for any long period of time because they’re too stiff and rub on my ankle. (Found that out the hard way at the airport one day.) I bought these Vans because they’re cute — but so rigid I’ve never been able to actually walk around long enough to break them in (update: I broke them in and they’re amazing!). And while I actually love these leopard-print sneakers (and they’re super comfy), they’re not exactly a pair that will go with everything.

So that became my goal:to find one pair of sneakers that are comfortable (like really, really comfortable), that will go with all the things and allow me to stop spending money on cheap(er) tennis shoes that I end up wearing once or twice.

Golden Goose Or Dupes? Superstars vs. Steve Madden

The price tag on Golden Goose sneakers is crazy expensive...SO we got some look-alikes (Steve Madden dupes) to compare & contrast. Check out our review.

So a little background is necessary, I think, to explain why I decided to try those expensive Golden Goose sneakers in the first place: I had drooled over Stuart Weitzman boots for years before I finally took the plunge and bought them (on sale!). I had done the same thing with those boots that I did with my search for comfy sneakers — I ended up spending lots of money on cheaper alternatives that weren’t exactly what I wanted but were good enough. And every time I wore those cheaper boots, I would find something I didn’t like: the construction, the quality, the fit, etc., I’ve always had a hard time with investment pieces because they’re so expensive, but I also forget to take Shana’s price-per-wear into account. So I ended up with multiple pairs of boots that I only wore a handful of times and could have saved a lot of money if I had just bought the ones I wanted in the first damn place.

I Walked A Mile In These Sneakers

But that price tag on Golden Goose is crazy expensive (IMO), SO I bought a pair of less expensive Steve Madden sneakers to compare and contrast. I mean, the two pairs look very similar, and I could always return the GGs if they weren’t all they were cracked up to be. I was very “scientific” about the whole thing (using that term pretty loosely–see my Insta stories here), and brought both pairs to the Superior Dome (a big sports rec center where people go to walk when the snow is everywhere). I decided to test them out by walking a mile in each pair–straight out the box and with no socks. (I mean, if you can wear a pair without socks that’s comfort, right?). Here are my thoughts:

First Up…Steve Madden Dupes

So these were actually pretty comfortable, even without socks. They didn’t rub on my ankle (a problem I often have,) and the glitter wasn’t right on my skin so it wasn’t scratchy. The lining is like a softer textile–almost like a terry cloth?–so I think that helps with the comfort. They do squeak, though, which drove me a little nuts. Not a huge deal, but kind of annoying. They’re definitely warmer than the Golden Goose (which is good for me right now in the cold weather,) but I imagine they’ll be hot in the summer. They felt more like your typical athletic shoe and were made with leather and man-made material. I usually wear a 7.5-8 and the 8s were perfect. There is a slight amount of distressing that doesn’t come through as much in the pictures as it does in person–more on that later. (Sidenote — my daughter Greenlea was obsessed with the glitter!)

The price tag on Golden Goose sneakers is crazy expensive...SO we got some look-alikes (Steve Madden dupes) to compare & contrast. Check out our review.

Or…Golden Goose Superstars

The price tag on Golden Goose sneakers is crazy expensive...SO we got some look-alikes (Steve Madden dupes) to compare & contrast. Check out our review.

So when I first put these bad boys on, they fit just a bit lower than the Steve Maddens around the ankle, which I liked. They also felt lighter, but somehow more substantial, if that makes sense. They felt more like regular “shoes” than your typical athletic shoe.

They’re made from 100% leather and are vented on the side thanks to decorative perforations which makes them a lot more breathable (and not as hot). I like that the sole is ever-so-slightly thicker at the heel (1″ at the heel and 0.8″ at the toe, instead of 1″ all around like the Steve Maddens,) because I think it looks more flattering and leg-lengthening somehow.

And, of course, I have to address the distressing: I know a lot of people comment on the silliness of buying expensive shoes that already “look dirty,” but I kind of like that there’s a slight amount of distressing on these. I worry less about wearing them outside and getting them dirty. You know when you get a brand new pair of white sneakers and are constantly watching where you step to avoid any mud or water?(It can’t just be me, right?) But I think the ones I chose have a perfect amount of distressing that looks less dirty and more broken-in. (It’s not for everyone, though, and I totally get that!)

I think my FAVORITE part of these sneakers (aside from the comfort–that’s the #1 most important thing, IMO) is that I will literally be able to wear them with everything. EVERYTHING. They look good with jeans, shorts, joggers, etc., but also with dresses and skirts--long or short. (And I plan on coming out with a post on all the ways I’m wearing these soon, so stay tuned).

OK, So — Golden Goose Originals OR Steve Madden Dupes?

If you’re looking for high-quality, really well-made, comfortable sneakers that will go with everything and stand the test of time, the Golden Goose sneakers really are a good investment. Think price-per-wear…they’re expensive, but if you want one-pair-fits-all that will get lots of use, it might be worth the higher price tag. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the sneaker style and aren’t sure if it’s for you, the Steve Maddens are a great option. Some quality is sacrificed for the price, so they may not last as long as the GG, but they are comfortable and come in some fun prints.  

The price tag on Golden Goose sneakers is crazy expensive...SO we got some look-alikes (Steve Madden dupes) to compare & contrast. Check out our review.
The price tag on Golden Goose sneakers is crazy expensive...SO we got some look-alikes (Steve Madden dupes) to compare & contrast. Check out our review.
The price tag on Golden Goose sneakers is crazy expensive...SO we got some look-alikes (Steve Madden dupes) to compare & contrast. Check out our review.

Outfit Details

sneakers: Golden Goose Sneakers (wearing a 38, usually a 7.5-8)

jeans: Everlane Authentic Stretch High-Rise Skinny Button Fly (size 27 regular, these are one of our favorite pairs of jeans at TME . . . see how we’re all wearing them here)

sweater: Cashmere Crewneck (size small)

Uh…Tips On Tying Golden Goose Laces

Also…I admit I was confused on how to tie these. So I turned to my husband, a sneaker-lover himself, and asked him to help. He had me loosen the ties just a bit and then tie them in a knot right behind the tongue. That way I didn’t have a ton of extra lace to tuck into my shoe, but I still avoided that giant bow on the front that I didn’t really want Do any of you have any tips on how to best tie these Golden Goose sneakers? Let us know!

Shop My Favorite Golden Goose Sneakers

While you can find Golden Goose at Shopbop or Nordstrom, I found the selection at SSENSE and Farfetch to be MUCH better (especially for size selection). They both offer free express shipping too–I ordered mine from Farfetch and didn’t really believe they’d reach me so fast from the UK, but they did–even in Marquette where everything takes so much longer to get too.

Shop My Favorite Steve Madden Dupes




  1. I find GGDB run a half size big in the Superstar,Hi-Star, and Slide. The May run a half size small. I also have my method for the “untied” look on my “shop” highlight @chardonnaynshopping

  2. As a retail worker, I’m confused about what you meant when you said you could return the GG ‘if they didn’t work out’. Does that mean trying them on in the comfort of your home? Or does that mean wearing them, wearing them? I’m hopeful you didn’t mean you would wear them and then return them. Just yesterday a co worker took back a bunch of stuff from a woman who was proud to say “I’m a blogger”, including used cosmetics. That didn’t thrill us. I do love this site, that line just jumped out at me!

    • I totally get it! And just to clarify, I meant if I opened them and didn’t like the way they looked or the way they fit. That’s what allowed me to pull the trigger . . . once they’re worn, ESPECIALLY outside of my house, they’re mine. We don’t return used products here . . . so thank you for letting me clarify that! 🙂

  3. This article came at the perfect time. I have a pair of GG in my closet that I love (and have wanted for awhile) but still feel guilty about keeping them. I only have 5 days left before I can return them but I am keeping them now!

  4. I finally pulled the trigger on a pair of GG’s on Saturday- and it’s like I’m a kid at Christmas. Which I know is silly but they’re the perfect neutral pair and I found them for under $400 (before tax- but still. And free shipping)! They’re supposed to be here tomorrow!!

  5. Great review- thank you! I think I am in the minority, but my foot did not agree with Golden Goose. Super cute? yes. Super versatile? yes. “insanely comfortable” (as almost every blogger seems to describe them)? ummm… not for my foot. I found there to be almost zero padding in the ball/front of the foot (although the heel and ‘hidden’ wedge was comfy). The sizing was hard to work for me. At the end of the day, I absolutely could not justify the price tag for the not really ‘insane’ comfort level. And while I am willing to sacrifice some comfort for fashion/cuteness sake, I cannot afford to do so at that price point. Golden Goose seems to have quite the hold on many fashion bloggers, but I will keep looking. Better luck to other feet and thank you for presenting the Steve Madden options!

  6. To those that read this article…the rumors are true…this is an amazing shoe. After readings Scottis article I pulled the trigger and purchased some off Farfetch…which is an amazing website. Not only did I get 10% off b/c it was my first purchase, I received these shoes in three days…from the UK!!! The GG is one of three investment pieces I’ve been eyeing for a few years now and as soon as I put the shoe on I had zero reservations. They are incredibly comfortable, true to size and a perfect neutral sneaker. Thank you TME for all you do…it’s like you live inside my head.

  7. I recently pulled the trigger on the tan pair of GG in your post and they literally go with EVERYTHING. I agree with the other commenter that the comfort level isn’t necessarily all it’s hyped up to be, and I do wish they had half sizes…but I love the subtle heel lift and the fact that I can throw them on with just about anything in my closet!

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