At secondary school, those that couldn’t afford good training shoes often turned up in Gola. Gola trainers were a bit of a joke; cheap and cheerful, but never cool or fashionable. Such was the trainer obsession and snobbery at my school that a pupil’s fashion sense and family income was immediately identifiable by the training shoes he wore. Nikes, Puma, Diadora, Ellesse, Adidas and even some types early Patricks all cut the mustard back then. But not Gola. They were one step above Primark’s own brand. Ah, the cruelty of children.
Fast forward a couple of decades and Golas started appearing in the fashion boutiques with many an aspiring hipster sporting a pair. Personally I was more than bemused by this, but looking at the press ads in the cool glossies, Gola was clearly spending some brass and positioning itself as a bit of a style leader.
For me the stigma still remained, but clearly not for those who went to schools where they had better things to think about than hierarchies of trainers. They lapped up the retro factor and didn’t even mind the fact that Gola was no longer a cheap alternative, but an expensive one. The other half of Gola’s target audience wouldn’t have remembered the first incarnation, so they merrily joined in too.
It certainly shows what can be done with a decent sized marketing budget. Clearly the board sat around the table with the marketers asking for a shot at stardom. Good designers were contracted in and the range expanded dramatically – but it was the premium positioning that did the trick.
Fashion is fickle and they might not be the latest thang anymore, but Gola is still more than established both online and on the high street – and no more the poor relation in the cost department. It just proves that if there’s cash and determination available, you can’t write off brands.
As for Dunlop Green Flash – well this was the same – but different. In the early 80s, these shoes were so cheap that you bought them for school PE lessons when you felt too old for black plimsolls; but sometime in the 1990s they suddenly appeared in boutique windows on London’s Floral Street, with a premium price tag to match the surroundings. You were beyond hip for wearing them (albeit for two nanoseconds), but whereas Gola’s renaissance seemed to be marketing led, this seemed more of a street-led craze. Fashionistas deliberately resurrecting a brand almost because it was once cheap and passé.
There are plenty of Lazarus brands that have risen from the dead outside of fashion too. Babycham tried it and have some success, and I’m hotly anticipating the Lada come-back anytime now. So please shout up with your suggestions for other brands that have risen from the dead and are back with a vengeance.
In the meantime, anyone for a pint of Hofmeister?