Product links have been updated for 2023.
Fun fact: our old article, Are Golden Goose Sneakers Worth The Price? is still one of our most-read articles today. And we get why people are asking: at $500+ a pop, Golden Goose sneakers are quite the investment.
There’s good reason to be intrigued, too. Not only are Golden Goose sneakers designed and made in Italy, but their distressed-vintage vibe has basically reached icon status: they’re the sneaker that has launched a thousand knockoffs. And personally, I love the cushy, raised interior footbed. It elongates the leg, and makes these sneakers dang comfortable.
That said, would I buy a pair of Golden Goose sneakers right now?
Golden Goose sneakers, $525
Now there’s nothing wrong with Golden Goose, per se, other than the fact that everyone seems to own them (or a knockoff pair.) And while that edgy vintage star detail once made my heart beat fast…I find myself…over it. I mean, it’s fine. I’ll even call them a classic. But at this point, they’re classics like old brown riding boots are classics: I’m not getting rid of mine, but I’m not swooning over them, either.
And Golden Goose isn’t helping matters by doing things like doubling down on glitter. It’s like they know their fastest-growing customer base is 15-year-old girls.
It’s just…I can’t.
Better Than Golden Goose? These 10 Sneakers Deliver
Now, this list is NOT a list of Golden Goose knockoffs. If that’s what you’re looking for, these Vintage Havanas are your best bet.
Instead, below is a short list of sneakers I find more exciting than Golden Goose sneakers (or GG lookalikes). Some are a little more affordable, and some are much more affordable, but all pairs have a hefty dose of under-the-radar cool that speaks to the original success of Golden Goose sneakers. And, because I’m a practical girl, I (mostly) stuck with neutrals, so they really can be worn with everything. Just like GG.
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1 | For The Would-Be French Girl: Freda Salvador Women’s Eda Low Top Sneakers, $295
These sneakers are like an edgy take on French-girl style, and are SO good on. The cut outs are flattering on the leg and completely elevate the shoe. Freda Salvador sneakers (a small, women-owned business) are made in family factories in Spain and El Salvador from 100% Italian leather. I went with the classic white lace-up, but their website has more styles, and all look seriously cool. These shoes do require a breaking-in period…but it’s not bad. I’ve been wearing mine around the house with socks on, and the leather is already softening up. The footbed is flexible, and nice and cushy, too. Fit is TTS.
2 | For The Environmentalist: Cariuma SALVAS Sneakers, $98
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative, it’s hard to beat Cariumas. They’re made from leather that’s LWG-certified, natural rubber, and recycled materials. And they’re seriously comfortable. The footbed is memory foam, and the upper is butter soft, even on bare skin (I hate wearing sneakers with socks). I appreciate the extra cushioning on the collar, too. This exact style also comes with a red design (and navy back panel) that is so fun…but I’m also eyeing up the canvas Catiba Pros, with a black/white upper and contrasting gum sole. Oooo…SO GOOD.
3 | For Serious Street Cred: Off-White Vulcanized Low-Top Sneakers, $295
If you’re looking for serious street cred and are willing to drop a little cash: Off-White sneakers. In fact, if I had to point to one shoe as being the new Golden Goose, it would be this one. Like Golden Goose, Off-White is a luxury brand based in Italy and founded by Virgel Abloh. This Black-owned business was once described by Vox as “the hottest fashion brand in the world…built on irony and $1000 sweatshirts,” and, it turns out, makes one heck of a high-quality shoe. While the leather version will run you over $500 (like this one or this one), I’m really into the canvas pair. This is going to be my summer sneaker of choice. It’s crazy comfortable, and looks so freaking cool on. True devotees will prob keep that zip tie, but I’m ditching it. Full video review of this pair coming soon (subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when it drops). I’m in love.
Off-White shoes can be found at Saks, Nordstrom and FarFetch.
4 | For Those Distressed Vintage Vibes: Oliver Cabell Low 1 Epoch Sneakers, $204
If the distressed vintage vibes of Golden Goose call to you…try Oliver Cabell. The overall effect is similar…but less busy. It’s a clean, almost masculine twist. And the shoe itself is lighter than Golden Goose, but with a padded footbed and soft leather upper. The only key difference is that it doesn’t have that internal wedge of Golden Goose shoes.
5 | For The Budget-Minded: Any Adidas Superstar (Especially Limited Edition), $100 – 120*
If you stalk the Adidas website as often as I do, there are some seriously freaking cool twists on the classic Adidas Superstars. Classic Superstars are probably my most-worn shoe of all time, and I still love the way they look. That said, when I need an upgrade, I’ll watch the website for a while, and see if a special edition catches my eye. That’s how I scored a pair with a really subtle floral embroidery. I still get compliments every time I wear them. As of now, the tortoiseshell details are a pretty cool twist for spring. (*Sale prices are often lower.)
6 | For Someone Who Wants A Little Height: P448 Thea Sneakers, $298
If it’s Golden Goose’s internal wedge that intrigues you, then p448 Thea sneakers might be your best bet. While no wedge, these shoes do have an internal platform, and, like the GG, are especially flattering on bare legs. In fact, it’s hard to find a sneaker that looks better with shorts and dresses! These shoes are a team favorite because (in addition to the slight platform) the shoe is almost impossibly cushioned, and the leather is butter soft (no break-in period required!). These might be some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. That said, the brand is falling down the same rabbit hole as Golden Goose these days: the design elements skew very teenager (iridescent tongue, anyone?). Just know that an additional pair of plain laces comes with each sneaker. And if you find a basic pair you like, snap ’em up! The good ones go fast.
7 | For Someone Who Likes The Hype: Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid SE, $130
Classics? Yes. But never boring — Nike Air Jordans are always in demand! In fact, the only reason I don’t currently own a pair is because I can’t keep up with the sell-outs. Whenever I find a perfect color combo (and I’m convinced it’s worth waiting for)…they always sell out before I can hit ‘add to cart’. But if you’re willing to put in the work and don’t mind a little friendly competition…they’re yours. (I’m already jealous.)
8 | For Boyish Vibes: Vans Lowland High CC Sneakers, $95
I love the old school vibes, sexy lines, and the perfect black/white balance of Van’s latest sneaker. Despite the fact that high-tops can look rather substantial, this pair is much daintier in person, and impossibly light on your feet. They have Vans’ classic flat sole, but with extra “comfort cush technology” and are suuuuuper comfy right out of the box. There’s also a mint green/dark green colorway (with a v. exciting dash of black) that is gorgeous, and worth checking out. These sneakers do run a bit narrow, however (like most Vans).
9 | For The Street Style Star: Zadig & Voltaire High Flash Leather Sneakers, $348
Instagram was spamming me with ads for these sneakers last year and dammit: they’re GOOD. Of course I can no longer find the ads, but Zadig & Voltaire’s approach was to simply show various editors wearing these sneaks and OH MY GOD they went with EVERYTHING. Add to that fact that these do have an internal wedge (like GG) and are made in Italy. They require a bit of a break-in period, but Laura has them and can vouch for their comfort.
10 | For Someone Who Wants Playful, Not Childish: Marni x Veja Leather High-Top Sneakers, $320
I love the perfect insouciance of these sneakers, and the decidedly playful vibe. It’s exactly what I’d expect from Marni, and this collaboration with sustainable sneaker brand Veja is what my sneaker dreams are made of. THIS is how you do quirky and bright and cool. Also in a low-top sneaker (all reds and pinks scribbles).
Oh Hey, Pinners…