Over the past 15 years, Benny Gold became one of the premier streetwear designers in San Francisco by parlaying his fame as a skateboarder into his own eponymous brand of shirts, hats and outerwear. His flagship Valenica Street shop became a tourist destination and mainstay of the city’s historic Mission District.
But this week, Gold surprised the Bay Area skate community and his thousands of social media followers with the news that he would be closing the store and ending most production on the brand.
Why? To make a midcareer pivot to advertising.
Gold has joined Goodby Silverstein & Partners as a designer. He will report to award-winning GS&P design director Ryan Self, who is himself a recent transplant from MullenLowe London having joined the Omnicom agency in a wave of 2018 hires following new business wins including Pepsi, BMW and Liberty Mutual.
In a statement to Hypebeast that was republished as a personal letter to followers this week, Gold wrote that he made the move primarily to take on new creative challenges.
“I would rather bring [the brand] to a close and celebrate it’s life with integrity rather than push it to become something I no longer believe in,” the note read. Gold added, “I am a graphic artist at heart and all I’ve ever wanted to do is create meaningful things, which is why I’m thrilled to join GS&P.”
The brand will not disappear, however, even if the recently released line will be its last full collection.
The Benny Gold digital store will live on as its founder continues to produce limited-edition specialty products.
Gold’s best-known designs among skate and sneaker aficionados include the 2006 Nike “Hufquake” series, which was created to commemorate the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, as well as logos for streetwear publisher Highsnobiety and coffee brand Four Barrel.
Beyond Nike, Gold has produced work for brands including Adidas, Teva, JanSport, Red Wing Shoes and Miller High Life.
“As a fan of graffiti art, I’ve admired Benny’s work over the years,” said GS&P chief creative officer Margaret Johnson. “He will immediately bring an incredible artistic dimension and intimate understanding of urban culture to GS&P.”