In the fickle footwear market, when a brand has been around for over 110 years, it’s fair to say it’s stood the test of time. Many people remember Gola as the shoes they (or their parents) wore back in the ’70s and ’80s, when the brand was riding high on the success of its trainers and its iconic Gola messenger bags. Fast-forward a few decades and dozens of fashion cycles later, and Gola is still standing, and perhaps hotter than ever.
With athletic wear a major trend again, a whole new generation is discovering Gola as a must-have ‘basic’. Their classic white or black trainers go with just about anything, but Gola is introducing a huge array of footwear for its ambitious Fall ’16 line that will likely be all over Instagram in a few months time as well. We recently had a chance to speak with Gola VP of U.S. Operations Steven Weinreb about what’s new at the British brand, as well as how returning to their roots is informing the future of Gola.
VAMP: Gola has quite a long history. How does Gola continue to remain relevant while also respecting its past?
Weinreb: Yes, we do have a very long and illustrious history and for Gola, this is a great value. We have extensive archives of Gola catalogs, adverts, and product from years past. As a brand we build on our heritage and this includes the re-release of styles from our back catalogues, so each season we have new editions of core heritage styles such as Harrier and we also introduce new styles which have a great story to tell, an example this season is Bullet. Bullet was first launched in 1976 as a multi purpose training shoe, this season it fits perfectly with the return to ‘terrace’ inspired footwear.
VAMP: Gola’s Made in England collection emphasizes its heritage. Can you tell us why Gola felt it was important to return to making shoes at home?
Weinreb: Many years ago, all of our product was produced in England. Of course, it is not possible to produce our entire collection in England and still be competitive in the market today, but as a British brand we feel it’s important to deliver a collection that is made in England so each season we offer a capsule collection that is heritage inspired. This is a salute to our heritage.
VAMP: Has anything changed in how the shoes are made?
Weinreb: Not very many changes in the production process. With the exception of automated stitching and advances in footwear design little has changed in footwear when we compare it to other industries. One great advancement though is material, so we get to work with interesting new materials which give us different looks.
VAMP: How did the Gola and Liberty Art Fabrics collaboration come about?
Weinreb: When choosing a global collaboration partner we tend to work with other like minded British companies, Liberty Art Fabrics holds a fabulous heritage and their fabric archives are amazing.
VAMP: With athleisure a huge trend right now, where does Gola fit in? Have you seen a resurgence of interest in classic trainers?
Weinreb: Yes, there has definitely been a resurgence of interest in classic trainers and this is great for Gola since our heritage is what sets us apart from others. Gola also makes athleisure styles as part of our range and they sell very well at retail. It really depends on what kind of look the customer is going for.
VAMP: What’s new for 2016 from Gola? Are any old hits returning?
Weinreb: Harrier is our flagship shoe and it’s been in our collection since its inception in 1968, so there’s a big anniversary coming up in 2018 and we’ll have a lot happening around this but back to 2016; this season we see the re—release of a style called Coaster, an authentic canvas style that was originally introduced in 1976. The shoe is simple looking, but very wearable and we’ve got a great and impactful colour palette. As I’ve previously mentioned, Bullet comes back for 2016 and this has been a huge hit with bloggers that we’ve been working with so we’re sure this will be on many trainer enthusiast’s shopping lists. Colorwise, look for deep reds and earthy tones.
VAMP: At 110, how does the future look for Gola?
Weinreb: These are exciting times for the brand as we look to significantly expand our presence in the US market. There will be many in store displays, events, and possibly some exclusive U.S. collaborations. Keep an eye out for us.