Looking for some distressed
Prior to recent years, pre-distressed leather was reserved for rugged biker jackets or leather furniture accents.
Golden Goose helped usher this concept into the sneaker world, effectively creating a new legitimate category for luxury kicks:
The pre-worn pre-distressed sneaker. If you’d rather save that $500, or are looking for slight design variations, you’re in the right place. We’ve got 15 Golden Goose sneaker alternatives to choose from.
Golden Goose is a Venice-based company that spearheaded the distressed shoe movement by building the scuffed vintage design using high-quality materials. This didn’t come without its critics (why mark-up a tattered shoe?
Why fake your game-worn kicks when you didn’t come off of the court?), but there’s an undeniable convenience factor about this aesthetic. And creating it out of premium materials makes it practical too.
Of course, Golden Goose’s pre-distressing process is a trade secret. At this point though, several brands have gotten in on the well-loved sneaker look. Let’s take a look at a few good ones.
Sneakers and Alternatives to Golden Goose
Here are 15 of them in no particular order.
Oliver Cabell Distressed Low 1
More than an excellent alternative, the distressed Low 1s from
The branding is less in-your-face, and can be taken as simply cool abstract designs. Instead of the Golden Goose star, we’ve got the Oliver Cabel Os and the brand’s trademark side-stitch.
And like Golden Goose, the distressed Low 1s serve up that straight and low-profile silhouette, and come in multiple colorways. These range from standard white to much louder options.
The Stingray features pebbled leather which works well with the distressing, since the aging effect gets in the cracks. The Shamrock has sophisticated wool-like canvas sides, which creates an interesting contrast with the worn soles and suede O.
Meanwhile, the Ghost is basically just a standard white, except it has a red contrast stitch, an example of just how nuanced the wide-ranging colorways can get.
Oliver Cabell shoes are built with full grain calfskin leather, and they’re lasted and hand-stitched in Marche, a region in Italy known for its generations-long shoemaking tradition.
Not too shabby considering the distressed Low 1s are half the price of Golden Goose shoes, less than half for several variations.
The molded insoles and soft padded collar and tongue are really comfortable, and the sizing impressively goes all the way down to a 6 and all the way up to a 15. Half-sizes aren’t available, and the consensus is that you should size up if you’re between sizes.
AllSaints Sheer Low Top Sneaker
British retailer AllSaints is known for having a vintage, rock and roll, and even goth-friendly slant. When ever-subversive distressed
Other than the $300 price drop, there are two immediately noticeable differences between Golden Goose
The only branding on these shoes are thin flaps attached to the eyestays. Second, they only feature a touch of distressing, mainly showcased on the rubber outsole.
The uppers are fully made of cow leather, while the linings are 100% goat leather, which is lighter and more supple than cow hides. They come in white and chalk white, both with a black contrasting black panel. They also come in black, but the distressing isn’t as prominent on it.
If you’re not familiar with AllSaints, I’d say they’re on par with Topshop or Theory. They’re of midtier quality and pricing, but also not offensive to people with high-fashion sensibilities, for the most part.
While a few pieces in their lines are made in China, the Sheer Low Top
However, when it comes to leather footwear, Portugal does indeed have a rich history in shoemaking.
Greats Royale Eco Mesh
The Greats Royale Eco Mesh
The teal and orange colorways are fun and playful, and feature a subtly colorful speckling on the rubber outsole. In a way, the specks do camouflage dirt, but obviously not as effectively as an actually distressed sole would.
The black and white variations have plain outsoles. The silhouette is the standard low-profile look, no different than their popular standard leather Royales. Sizing-wise, they fit about a half-size larger against a Brannock measuring device.
Another cool thing is that while Greats is known for focusing on sustainability in general, this model is pretty next level. It’s actually made of 100% recycled canvas, 75% recycled mesh, and a recycled rubber outsole.
Even the laces are fully recycled, and the footbed is created using algae foam from overpopulated ecosystems.
As far as how that affects you in your day-to-day, this unique construction makes the Eco Mesh
Sepol Estrella Star
Possibly dipping into homage territory, the Sepol Estrella Star
The top part of the upper has super unique mercedes-shaped perforations. The Beach Star Sneakers are a variation with shiny foil stars and back panels, just like some of the more flamboyant Golden Goose colorways
The leather lining is immediately comfortable, and the synthetic outsoles are especially slip-resistant.
The company is based in Texas and the shoes are made in Turkey, which of course makes them much more affordable on several fronts. They’re in the $160 range depending on the colorway.
The cool thing here though is that the founder was actually a Turkish shoemaker who started his own factory in Istanbul, so there’s at least a history there.
If you’re looking for something less on-the-nose, but like the star motif, the Sepol Constantinople features smaller stars on the side instead of one big one like Golden Goose does. It also still has that distinct perforation style.
Koio Court Chalk Distressed
Koio is a brand that we often think of when considering quality Common Projects alternatives. Their shoes are hand-made in the Marche region of Italy, and they tend to be immediately comfortable thanks to the cushion insole that molds to your foot.
A point of well-deserved pride for the brand, Koio uses cow leather certified gold by the Leather Working Group (LWG) meaning they’re tanned in an ethical and sustainable facility.
Both the standard Court Chalk Distressed variation and the Court Chalk Perforated version offer a more classic and basic alternative to Golden Goose high-tops. There’s zero aesthetic-only elements, save for the gold branding on the back collar.
Koio’s distressed options are way more bare-bones, and like the AllSaints, way more versatile.
Another similarity the Koios have with the AllSaints is that their black variation, Coal Distressed, only displays visible distressing on the outsole. Shape-wise, all the colorways feature a dramatic taper, so it gets quite wide, and then narrows in the instep.
Plain white shoes pick up stains so easily. So if you’re going the distressed route because it’s practical and easy to maintain (or not maintain), I think basic whites or perforated is a sensible way to go.
Converse One Star Suede
The Converse One Star Suede
What this brand has above the other star-adorned selects is that Converse has its very own star, associated with it long before Golden Goose came along. It’s not just a cheap homage in that sense.
They’re not pre-distressed, but they sport that classic low-profile that, again, Converse was known for way before Golden Goose was known for it. Besides, the ultra-napped suede can hide scuffs pretty easily.
They’re immediately comfortable athletic shoes. Of course, China-made Converses aren’t as high-quality as our Marche-made options. For less than $100 though, you still get a cool vintage style, complete with a star and more history than Golden Goose.
Steve Madden Reza
Here’s a cheat code: men can wear women’s
The white version of the Steve Madden Reza is perfectly unisex and sports a pretty standard low-profile white sneaker style.
What’s interesting about it, compared to other pre-distressed shoes, is that the sectioned toe and back, and the outsole are distressed, but the sides aren’t. It looks deliberate, as if distressing is used to accent the shoe. Also, the star design is perforated instead of patched on.
For Steve Madden, women’s sizes are one full size up. If you’re a 6 usually, you’d be a 7 in these shoes. You might even be a 8.5 or an 8, and here’s why.
I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a women’s shoe, but the toe box seems proportionally small (though there’s no reason to do this to a shoe simply because it’s for women). By sizing up a little, you can make up for this lack. Just make sure to check the seller’s return policy.
Vintage Havana Rocco
Since the brand is aimed at women, Vintage Havana tends to make
Their trademark faux snakeskin, leopard print, and glittery options are reminiscent of Golden Goose’s ornate and glamorous variations.
The simple and unsparkly Rocco shoe though is more guy-friendly. Design-wise, it’s accented with perforations on the sides that help the star design stick out without having to make it a contrast color.
The back collar and branded lip are a napped black. Other than those features, the Rocco is a standard and stylish low-profile white sneaker. I do like the sectioning in the outsole because it gives it a tactile quality.
Vintage Havana’s shoes have a 1.5 size difference for men. So if you’re a 7, you’d get the Roccos in an 8.5. Once you’ve accommodated the lacing to your preferences, these guys are really easy to slip off and on, without having to undo and redo the laces.
Olukai Mio Li Athletic Shoe
Several Golden Goose variations use different mesh styles and colors and leathers all in one shoe. For those of you who like the idea of this, but prefer a cleaner, more grown-up execution of it, the Olukai Mio Li Athletic Shoes are sleeker and more streamlined, but still fun to look at.
They don’t have the no-need-to-maintain maintenance expectations that pre-distressed
The Mio Li uppers have a tightly weaved mesh construction, while the lip features a super loose mesh for an exaggerated aesthetic to accent. There are different textured leathers throughout, and an athletic bungee cord style design holding the eyelet area.
As a genuine athletic shoe, these are super comfortable. The mesh is breathable, the footbed has a dual-density gel insert, and you just feel spry and springy in them.
Bed Stu Holmes
Bed Stu focuses on original handmade, vegetable-tanned, organic leather goods. In fact, “imperfection” is one of their tenants, so they’re sort of like the anti-Dr. Martens.
This is probably why their distressed
The Holmes has a more industrial build than your average sneaker. The shades are cool and dark and the eyelets are adorned with stark hardware. Both this Holmes shoe and the next Bed Stu entry, the Brentwood, look like they might have some work boot in their ancestry.
This rugged look is the perfect canvas for pre-distressing. While some may not understand the weathered look of a Golden Goose, the Holmes looks unconfusingly cool with its burnished aesthetic.
No one would question why cowboy boots or jeans would come pre-worn, and it’s the same with this shoe. And unlike Golden Gooses, you could probably sport Holmes shoes in smart casual situations.
Bed Stu Brentwood
If the Holmes looks like he might have a work boot for a grandparent, the Bed Stu Brentwood looks like he’s half work boot.
The Brentwoods are a high top sneaker with a highly oiled finish and 8 D-rings for its eyelets, like a hiking boot.
In fact, if it weren’t for the rubber outsole, and the slightly Asics-style design on the sides, I could have mistaken these for boots.
Like Golden Gooses, the Brentwoods are street-style friendly. Their industrial look even borders on grunge or goth (which these days do have some overlap with street style accessorizing).
The distressed leather is vegetable tanned, which gives it its rich patina, and the shoes themselves are hand-crafted in Leon, Mexico, per the Bed Stu tradition
The Cariuma Vintage Gum comes in white leather with off-white accents or in suede, with several fun colorways for a cool personalization factor.
The Off-White Gums are the most quintessential vintage shoe because the contrast gum outsole does give it this Wonder Years vibe.
The black leather leaf adds a sleek touch of stylishly vague branding, but doesn’t take away from its overall casual aesthetic. Although you can’t miss the bright green Cariuma logo on the back outsole. The gum sole only comes in black and white, but the white sole version comes in an additional, pink, gray, blue, and red.
These aren’t distressed at all, though you can of course distress them. Cariumas are really great with design details.
The leather leaf is on all of the colorways, and the triple stitching throughout is a testament to its durability, but also adds extra texture. On top of that, Cariuma makes their canvas uppers out of ethically sourced or recycled materials.
At $300, the Esquivel Weekenders aren’t cheap, but they’re still more affordable than the lowest-price Golden Goose.
Additionally, I think they’re classier. They have much cleaner uppers. The eyelet area, a front patch, and the back patch are the only sectioning on them.
This makes the wornness look almost like a white patinated look. Their signature handmade fabric laces feature an aerated-looking red pattern, which matches the stitching around the gum outsoles. There’s a clear level of detail in this simple shoe.
This is unsurprising since George Esquivel is a California-based designer who focuses on hand-craftsmanship and mixing sophistication with casual looks.
The word artisan gets thrown around a lot these days, but the Esquivel Weekenders are definitely artisan distressed
Philippe Model Paris
Philippe Model is an Italian brand, like Golden Goose, of a similar caliber quality-wise. Their Paris shoe runs at $100-$200 less than the cheapest Golden Goose
They feature their own distinct logo, a shield that takes the place of the Goose star. That being the case, this is another “competitor alternative” rather than a lookalike or even just another shoe in the same category. I think that Paris shoes’ unique distinct style looks more deliberate.
The pink and white variation, for example, has a “wrap-around” style outsole, which aligns with the tattered and thrown together aesthetic. Each Paris variation plays with the Model shield in a different way.
The white with pink accents stitch the outline of the symbol, while the dressier brown Antracite features an actual embossed shield.
Some brands do more youthful distressed
Overall, the Paris shoes offer excellent craftsmanship, good materials, and still lower prices than Golden Goose due probably to the fact they just aren’t as famous -which I know some of you prefer.
Sneakers Will You Choose?
Whether you’re looking for a cheaper homage or a less common alternative that’s equally as fashion forward and trendy, you don’t have to spend $500-$700 on Golden Goose shoes. Of course, if that’s what you want, there aren’t really exact replicas outside of actual knock-offs.
And again, a pre-distressed sneaker does away with the need to really maintain. You either buy a clean pair and let them get worn, or go for one of the shoes here and skip that step altogether.
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