Brands You Should Know


The time-honored Swiss label has been churning out sleek, modern looks since it started in 1851.

A vintage Bally poster, from 1943

The story of Bally is, in essence, a story of pairs. And no, we’re not talking about shoes, here (well, not exclusively). Mostly, we’re talking about people. Founded by brothers Fritz and Carl Franz in 1851 as “Bally & Co.”, the company got its start in the basement of Carl’s home in the Swiss town of Schönenwerd, where German shoemakers handcrafted fine shoes under the Bally banner. By 1854, the operation had moved to a proper factory, and by the mid-1880’s Bally had established itself as a leader in European shoemaking, producing more than 100 pairs of shoes a day.

In 1899, Carl Franz passed on, as did the Bally brand—to another duo, his sons Eduard and Arthur. The second generation of leadership oversaw a period of expansion and record-setting sales, and by the time Carl’s grandson Max added the iconic Scribe model to the company’s range in 1951, Bally was a worldwide force. The company left family hands when it went public in 1970, and expanded into clothing soon thereafter.

A standby on the luxury scene in the decades that followed, Bally was acquired by Vienna-based luxury goods holding company Labelux in 2008. By 2010, superstar Acquascatum alums Graeme Fidler and Michael Herz were at the helm, making them the third two-man team to contribute to the time-honored brand’s success story. Emphasizing clean lines and classically inspired style that takes its cues from the archives but still pushes things forward—think evolution, not straight heritage—their vision of casual, understated luxury reinvigorated the label in the last few years, and stands as the guiding force behind Bally today.

Bally, on sale now on Gilt Man.

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