The Bally Design Duo Takes Miami
By Laurie Brookins
The jumping-off point for both the men’s and women’s anniversary collections is the classic brogue, that traditional oxford accented with perforations (or “brogueing”) that originated in Scotland and Ireland. The perforations historically were meant to be more practical than decorative, as they allowed the wearer’s shoes to drain after crossing wet bogs. Herz and Fidler, who split the design duties (Herz handles the women’s side of the label, while Fidler oversees the men’s), dove into Bally’s exceedingly impressive archives—more than 30,000 designs and a museum at their Schönenwerd, Switzerland, headquarters—to research the brand’s history with the brogue before deciding how to reinterpret it for a fashion audience today.
The result: streamlined oxfords and demi-boots for men with brogue detailing and superlight micro rubber soles, while the women’s collection includes oxford pumps with oversize fringe detailing and ankle boots toned in the season’s key color-blocking trend. Bally’s also makes sneakers, which Fidler calls “the modern side of the shoe spectrum: very chic, very easy, and it’s quickly become one of the best-selling parts of the footwear.” Earlier this summer the duo launched a new collection aimed specifically at women: The Urban collection features the iconic red and white Bally stripe, a nod to the colors of the Swiss flag. The collection is based on the company’s unisex Trainspotting collection, referring to Switzerland’s almost manic ability to run its trains on time, and has likewise met with talked-about success.
By all accounts, Herz and Fidler are achieving exactly what they’ve set out to do, and what Bally has given them free rein to accomplish: to dial up the hip quotient on the label and propel it into the zeitgeist as a brand with buzz. On the night we speak, the pair calls in from Tokyo, where a Bally boutique has just opened in the decidedly upscale Ginza district. “It’s amazing to see people embrace the products and understand what we’re doing,” Herz says. “It’s a wonderful recognition of our desire to appeal to the more fashionable side. No one wants to be a brand of lost generations, of solely appealing to your parents or grandparents. You want to make yourself relevant to the next generation as well.”
All of which is to say the whirlwind shows no signs of slowing—but then again, it’s all the more reason to look forward to a few moments under the Miami sun. “Last year was a bit daunting, but then most of last year was, because everything was new,” Fidler says. “This year it’s going to be amazing, because we’re riding the crest of the wave.”
photograph by marc dimov/patrickmcmullan.com
AG Jeans design director Mark Wiesmayr and stylist Jeanann Williams on denim's cultural footprint.