words. Frank Herbrand
issue 3 – the water issue

What is Bally’s position on Swiss DNA? Is Bally still a Swiss brand?
Bally was founded in Switzerland in 1851, we are proudly Swiss, where this idea of Swissness aligns with the definition of modern luxury – the art of living well that can be defined as follows:

­a respect for the environment
an openness to the world
a focus on quality and craftmanship, Made in Switzerland is a core part of our heritage, but also creativity and innovation

Moreover, Switzerland has always been important for us, as it’s our home market where around 100 artisans currently produce over a quarter of footwear in our headquarters in Caslano includes a factory (150-200,000 shoes/year out of appx 700,000 shoes per year).
However, we are a global company, that has always been open to the world. Our founder, Carl Franz was a visionary, pioneering global brand by the turn of the century as Bally expanded stores from Montevideo, Uruguay (1870) to Paris, France (1879) to reach today a network of more than 300 retail stores all around the world, employing a global team of 1400 collaborators from over 25 nationalities worldwide.

What is Bally’s distinction from other luxury brands?
Undoubtedly, our heritage, Bally was founded more than 170 years ago. With such a longstanding history, we are proud of our incredibly rich archive which is a constant source of inspiration for our creative team and for the distinctive know-how we developed as a shoe-maker.

photography. Iulia Matei + dobe + Bogdan Chilldays Plakov
photography. Iulia Matei + dobe + Bogdan Chilldays Plakov

What are the most important measures to further strengthen Bally as a luxury brand?
We started the repositioning when I joined as CEO in 2019, addressing important evolutions across the business in terms of merchandising and distribution. After three years of consolidating the brand across various touch points, which set strong foundations to build on with a fresh vision to reinvigorate the brand, I decided to bring back the brand to the runway to elevate it, make it more desirable, and strengthen its fashion credibility. Appointing a young and promising talent as Rhuigi Villaseñor as Creative Director was natural to me. It was important to find someone who naturally embraced and respected the brand’s legacy, and understood how unique it was to be Swiss, in so much that we have a renowned history of excellence in craftsmanship and tradition.

photography. Iulia Matei + dobe + Bogdan Chilldays Plakov
photography. Iulia Matei + dobe + Bogdan Chilldays Plakov

How does Bally present itself in the following years in the international market?
The new logo we revealed in September 2022 was the starting point of the new brand identity that encompasses a new store concept we’re launching with the reopening of our New York flagship store located in the trending Meatpacking district, followed by Zürich in a few months.
In terms of product design, we’re launching Bally’s signifiers with the SS23 collection, introducing our emblem, expect to see it everywhere, on shoes, and bags but also on ready-to-wear pieces. Rhuigi discovered that Bally used to make elastics when he visited the archive, and he loved the way the two of them intertwined and made this abstract ‘B.’ That’s the inspiration behind the new emblem.
We are also continuing the long tradition of collaborations with artists that Bally has offered since the early 20th century with the release of capsules designed by Academy Award-winning actor and renowned artist Adrien Brody. It’s important to occupy the fashion conversation, to keep the brand on the fashion radar, always bringing newness and elements of surprise and excitement.
All those initiatives are aimed at rejuvenating the brand identity and reaching a new, younger audience while we continue to serve our existing customers who recognize Bally’s commitment to luxury craftsmanship, sophistication, and a strong appreciation for the arts.
We are continuously building and expanding Bally’s community of friends to reach new territories and audiences. We dress celebrities who attend our events, not only fashion shows twice a year, but also through capsule launches and dinners such as the promotion of our Curling capsule collection in St Moritz in January.

photography. harley weir
photography. harley weir

What is clearly going best today? Bags? Shoes? Clothes? What will the focus be on in the future?
Shoes and bags remain our core business. However, we’re looking to further build our women’s offering (which is currently at 40%) to balance our offer in terms of gender and take our ready-to-wear business from 11% to 20% over the next three-to-five years. There’s definitely a big potential in developing our presence in the ready-to-wear business. We’re also planning on launching new lifestyle categories following our introduction of jewelry for Spring/Summer 2023 to convey a lifestyle message.
Over the last years, Bally has casualized its offer, where Casual represents 60% of our sales. However, we showed on the runway a more sophisticated look and bold silhouettes, elevating the dressing part to be in sync with the zeitgeist that sees the comeback of a certain classic elegance. I’m interested to see how Rhuigi, who comes from the “sneaker generation” is already adapting to that new trend.

What does Capsule Wardrobe mean? The term “Capsule Wardrobe” was first coined in 1970 by the London boutique owner Susie Faux. She defined the principle of the minimalist wardrobe, which consists of a few essential pieces of essential items of clothing that never go out of fashion – this wardrobe is replenished this wardrobe is replenished seasonally with trendy items.

words. Frank Herbrand