MILAN — Bally will unveil its first collection by design director Simone Bellotti on Saturday and the designer clearly has familiarized himself with the brand over the past few months.
Measuring his words carefully in an exclusive interview ahead of the show, Bellotti is the opposite of a diva designer. Understanding the power of heritage and its potential, he said he was “obsessed by the idea of diving deep into Bally’s history. I think there is still so much to tell, using today’s codes.”
Arriving at the company he was impressed by the high quality of the products and the longevity of the designs. For example, he revisited the Glendale shoe, which was created a century ago, marveling at the style’s modernity and functionality. Ditto for the Scribe and the Plum shoes, again saying that he was “obsessed” by classic products.
“Everyone has an idea of Switzerland as something extremely precise — think watches, banks — but there are so many other layers, more irrational and organic. That’s why I like to add details that are somehow out of control,” he said, pointing to a short taffeta dress out of which pleats seemed to sprout, forming floral motifs. “This short dress can be classic but has these unexpected touches and becomes new and modern.” He paired it with a sleek leather trench — reflecting Bally’s expertise.
On a white T-shirt, there was an image of Monte Verità, or the Monescia Mount, near Ascona. He was intrigued by the photos he found of the community founded there in the early 20th century, “dancing in the sun, looking for a different way to express themselves, free minds running away from the stress of industrialization,” he said.
Bellotti was appointed to the post at the end of May, following the exit of Rhuigi Villaseñor, who held the title of creative director and had joined the company in January last year.
Bellotti quietly joined Bally last October after a 16-year tenure at Gucci. Previously he held senior design positions at Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta and Gianfranco Ferré, boasting an experience in both both ready-to-wear tailoring and accessories.
“We share the same point of view and we truly are in sync,” said chief executive officer Nicolas Girotto, of selecting Bellotti for the job. “We took advantage of this moment to redefine Bally and we realized that we should embrace who we are, leveraging our history spanning 172 years — which was never discontinued.”
Girotto said that with Bellotti, he was aiming “to go beyond the clichés associated with Switzerland. It’s really different from what one would think. I am deeply in love with the country and I see paradoxes, contrasts and duality, tradition and innovation, conservatism and strong progressiveness, exemplified by the city of Zurich. One of the most important Pride movements is in Zurich. We are very much interested in this duality.”
Girotto praised Bellotti’s know-how, culture and experience, and the fact that “he is not trying to make Bally into another brand, he has a point of view but respects the past, and this is a strength. We need to be true to who we are, but also unexpected, classic with a twist. I was tasked [in 2019] with the transformation and elevation of the brand and this has not changed.”
Bally, which is controlled by the JAB holding company, is “reactivating” its business in Japan, where it already has 20 stores, said Girotto.
A new store will open in Tokyo’s Ginza district in January. “The country is benefiting from a return of tourism,” he said.
The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 40 percent of sales. The executive said Bally reported a strong start in China this year with double-digit growth compared to 2022, but admitted the market had slowed during the summer.
He characterized the performance in the U.S. as “flat,” while the Middle East continues to grow. He also pointed out that India has growth potential. There are four existing stores in India, and a new unit will open in Bangalore next year.
A second store will open in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the TRX Mall on Nov. 29. Girotto noted that Bally’s first international store opened in Uruguay in 1870, reflecting a pioneering strategy of the company.