For our latest profile, we headed up into the Hills to pay homage to one of LA’s most iconic style creatures: James Goldstein. Goldstein is by no means new to the scene—quite the contrary, he’s been slashing a path all his own for quite some time—it just took a while for everyone else to catch up.
In a way, Goldstein exists in a category all his own. Whether court-side at the Lakers, or front-row at fashion events all over the world—he cuts a dashing, somewhat mysterious figure in his trademark cowboy hat, leather jacket, skintight jeans, and boots. Even the property investor's house has iconic style—it's where the Dude abided in The Big Lebowski, and it just got donated to LACMA. We talked with this LA legend to hear how he dictates the style trends and doesn't pay attention to anyone else.
JAMES GOLDSTEIN: I would describe my style as being unique to me. I don’t like to see anyone else with the same look. I love short jackets. Something that is special and original that hasn’t been done before with unusual fabrics and skins together with my usual hat, scarf, and boots. Skintight boots.
Who are your style influences?
Presently, I don’t have any person that I’m aware of that I look up to from a fashion standpoint. Michael Jackson was my favorite. I really admired and looked up to him. But, without Michael Jackson being around, I don’t know of anybody else.
Is there such a thing as LA style?
If you were to define an LA style, I would call it “No style.” LA is very casual, but there’s definitely a lack of fashion awareness here. Last night, I hosted a major party, and out of 400 people, I’d say that maybe 10 or 15 showed me some style.
Prized style item?
I buy completely new wardrobes every six months. I stay very much aware of what the hottest designers are doing, and I’m always looking for something new that appeals to me and looks good on me.
How does LA inform your style?
LA has no impact on me whatsoever. I spend a lot of time in Europe, I go to fashion weeks all over the world, and I enjoy impressing the fashion people that are around me during those fashion weeks. In general, the people in LA don’t have any fashion consciousness. It’s nice to get compliments from them, but at the same time, I know that they’re not really aware what they’re looking at.
How has your style evolved over time?
For example, I used to wear more blazers than I wear now. But I realized that short jackets are more attractive. They feel better on me. In my younger days, I was a little more constrained by dress codes. Now, I feel that I dictate the style and I don’t really care what anybody else is wearing around me, or whether they approve or disapprove.
Every season, I buy so many clothes that there’s always one or two piece that after I wear it a few times, I realize I’ve made a mistake. That’s part of what I do. I have to expect that, so I don’t get too angry at myself when I make a mistake.
How is your style an extension of your personality?
Fashion brings out the artistic side of me, the creative side of me. I have another side of me which is the business sense, but I don’t let business affect what I wear.
What’s your favorite thing to wear?
My favorite items right now are two jackets—Gucci and Balmain. I also have two jackets from Saint Laurent this season that I like very much.
What’s your process like for deciding what to wear?
I look for quality, to coordinate different pieces. I look for something that I know comes from the latest season that the designer is offering.