James Goldstein, Fashion's Most Mysterious Super Fan, On Launching His Own Line

James Goldstein, an older gent of mysterious origins who favors a wardrobe almost exclusively made of cowboy hats, neckerchiefs, and exotic skins, has been a staple at the shows for the past thirty years. Now he's turning his fashion super fandom into a business and launching his own eponymous line, to debut this fashion week in Milan.
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Hayley Phelan
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James Goldstein, an older gent of mysterious origins who favors a wardrobe almost exclusively made of cowboy hats, neckerchiefs, and exotic skins, has been a staple at the shows for the past thirty years. Now he's turning his fashion super fandom into a business and launching his own eponymous line, to debut this fashion week in Milan.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

If you've been to fashion week in the past decade, chances are you've noticed James Goldstein. After all, he's kind of hard to miss.

Goldstein, an older gent of mysterious origins who favors a wardrobe almost exclusively made of cowboy hats, neckerchiefs, and exotic skins, has been a staple at the shows for the past thirty years. But he's not some high profile editor, stylist, or publisher. Actually, no one really knows for sure what Goldstein does, or how he made his money. Rumors about his past, according to a profile in Interview, run the gamut--that he "made a fortune selling trailer parks" or that he "once had an affair with a famous Hollywood pinup." Both Interview and Another suggest that Goldstein's fortune comes from real estate investments. Goldstein, however, won't confirm the reports; he likes the mystery.

What we do know about him is that he's somehow very, very rich (see: his house) and he's extremely passionate about two things: fashion and basketball. In fact, Goldstein first came into the public eye for being the "largest investor in NBA tickets in the world." He's been court side at every important Lakers game for decades.

But his love of fashion might have finally overtaken his passion for the sport. "I attend more than 200 shows each year, and [have gone to] thousands in my lifetime," Goldstein told us over email.

Now, he's turning that unparalleled passion into a business. That's right, James Goldstein is launching a womenswear line. And it's coming to a fashion week near you soon.

In Goldstein's own words, the new label will be "a 'chic rock and roll' line, in the same spirit as my own style." The womenswear line will be shown during during Milan Fashion Week in September. "We will schedule presentations at our showroom on the top floor at Via Montenapoleone." Goldstein says he and his partners--friends Stefano D'Ambrosio and Jean Paul--plan to launch a menswear line in 2014.

An ad for the new line

An ad for the new line

"For years now, friends and fans have complimented me on my style and encouraged me to design my own line," Goldstein explained, of how the company, launched in June 2013, came about. "I have been reluctant to start a new career at this point in my life. But when two of my best friends recently came to me with their plans for a new clothing brand, to be named after me, I could not turn down their offer to be the head designer."

Goldstein's impressive experience as a fashion super fan has not only honed his own personal style, but his eye for design. "My experience as a spectator has taught me to understand the nuances of clothing design, including fabrics, colors, construction, and overall creativity."

"My style has evolved over the years," he continued. "I like to add accessories such as hats, scarves, boots, etc. to achieve a complete ensemble look and at the same time an individualized look. I study the new collections carefully each season for special pieces that have never been done before. And I even study the women"s clothes to find pieces such as biker jackets that can be modified for me."

As for how he started going to shows, Goldstein told us:

"The first important fashion show that I recall was the Jean Paul Gaultier show in Paris, about 30 years ago. At first, I started going to a few shows a year in Paris with Tommy Perse, the owner of Maxfield's in L.A. Then I added a few shows in Milan with designers such as Versace and Cavalli, who gave me invitations because I was a big customer. Gradually, I increased the number of shows and cities that I visited. And as the media such as Paris Vogue started writing about me, it became easier for me to attend even more shows. I couldn't stop because I enjoyed the shows so much."

When I ask Goldstein to describe how he developed his personal style, he explained: "I have no fear of trying something new and different I don't worry about following clothing rules. I make my own rules."

The same could no doubt be said about his life philosophy.

Click through to see some of Goldstein's best outfits for a look at what his line might look like.