I used to have a very fond memory of Bally because they were among the few luxury brands that penetrated (doesn’t this word sound real juicy to you?) our market early and built a brick and mortar presence in the backwater Vietnam. Thanks to Bally, I was awaken to the concept of luxury–a single pair of shoes could set you back several hundreds dollars (which would be a bajillion when converted into local currency). I wasn’t always keeping up with the newest developments at the brand so today I browsed their online store for a little “catch-up”. And it really saddens me to admit that the vast majority of men shoes over there…mortified me!
From what I gathered, Bally has undergone a kind of rough and tumultuous patch for the past few years first with Brian Atwood leaving his creative director role and then a new CEO and Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz taking Brian’s spot in 2010. Fast forward to 3 years later, another CEO has been appointed again, and Graeme and Michael have handed in their resignation. Who will succeed them remains to be seen. We won’t broach the subject of quality here today because I don’t own any pair of Bally myself to vouch for their quality. Plus, at an average of slightly more than $300 per pair, the quality should be decent if not good; otherwise, they wouldn’t last long in this cut-throat market. However, from the aesthetic point of view, it seems like things have really taken a turn for the worse. I completely understand their main focus on heritage, craftsmanship, and fashion-meets-function. But truth be told, what I have seen so far is sadly function minus fashion. The Bally guy is the outdoorsy, nature-loving type not downtown Manhattan cool or Parisian chic or Milano refined, but that isn’t an excuse for shoes that would most likely be worn by suburbanites in the distant past. Dashing readers of this blog come from the first world for the most part, so you might not get to see unauthentic and low-quality shoes on a daily basis. In where I live though, it’s an everyday sight. Without the Bally name tag on the shoes, it’d be extremely hard-pressed for me to distinguish them from the poorly designed products by local manufacturers or from China. Even the nouveaux riches in the third world seem to have moved on from these dated and chunky designs. Here’s to hope that whoever is going to be creatively in charge of Bally will not just keep the brand’s heritage intact but also inject some much-needed modernity into it.
Images via Bally