Really, Bally?

Disclaimer: I must admit that I am a huge Saturday Night Live fan and have watched quite a few of the old Weekend Update segments with Seth (Seth Myers) and Amy (Amy Poehler) lately, so those of you who recognize the similarity between this post’s title and the super funny SNL segment will understand.

So today I was walking around Berne, Switzerland, when something strange caught my eye: the windows of the big Bally Store (I try to avoid using the word “Flagship” because even though I thought I did, I no longer understand what it means).

The windows have been changed. Gone are the fixtures that provided a backdrop to the displayed articles and prevented you from clearly seeing the store interior. Now you can see all through the elegant, light-filled store that has windows on both streets that it occupies and has entrances on. And it looks very plush, inviting and luxurious while providing you with a total view of the merchandise in the store, which is great. Especially for after hours window-shopping.

But it is not the much better designed window that caught my eye – it was the goods. I was shocked to see that every single item in the window looked like a Céline knockoff. So I took out my camera, shot a few pictures and felt the urge to write about it.

I understand that minimalism is very much du jour, I also understand that after the whole heritage/stripey thing (that in its turn very, very much inspired Navyboot, but that’s a whole story on its own) Bally have been trying to create a certain style.

They have had their share of creative directors since 2003 and I understand that it’s not easy to continuously come up with products that have what it takes to become objects of desire but what I don’t understand is why a premium brand sells products that look like a copy of a fashion phenomenon. Phoebe Philo’s collections at Céline have undoubtedly become a very heavy influencer of style, a definite trendsetter. But it is not a reason to come so close to the stuff, slap your name – by the way also in an identical manner to Céline’s – on it and call it your own.

Come on, Bally. Really? You have such a great brand, so many qualities and a potential of becoming – again – something so unique, so recognizable on its own…what is happening to you?

Your history, your archives, your origins, your craftsmanship, your Swiss roots, your pioneer spirit could not inspire you but Céline could?

And I am even more disappointed because I have been working on a series of articles on retail in Switzerland and only had good things to say about Bally, who since 2003 have really shown substantial style, retail excellence, great service – until I saw this.

And while I love SNL, am using the name of my favorite segment and cannot avoid being influenced by its tone, I am not setting up a studio with a world map behind me and broadcasting my blog with a handsome co-anchor on a Saturday night all while calling it my creation.

And while it is absolutely fine to like something and allow yourself to be inspired by it, it is definitely weak to actually copy the thing, put your name on it and call it your own. Just saying.

5 Comments

  • raya says:

    Really is a shame for Bally that felt like a guardien de tradition, de savoir-faire…. and timeless. But what I see here could be from any random brand. Their creative director muss not be that creative after all…

  • Geeker says:

    I see it as a variation on a theme, more choice within the same style. It is clear that the price of that would be the gradual erosion of the Bally “griffe”, I think I will call this move ‘going chinese’, and while it has proven to be a somewhat effective strategy for certain new brands to start up, it’s bound to be a bad move from an established brand like Bally.

  • Excellent post Maya.
    Love your tie-in to SNL. Well done!

    It’s disappointing to see brands with so much potential go a route that leaves little to the creative imagination. While I would not have picked up on the similarities between Celine and Bally (I’m not THAT good), the display and the merchandise were “meh” at best. It feels heavy and without true style.

    Will this impact the articles you’re writing about retail in Switzerland? Will you adjust all the good things you had been feeling about Bally?

    Keep us posted!
    -Heather :)
    retaildesigndiva.blogs.com

  • athenà says:

    Really excellent post

    I would expect more creativity from this great Suisse name.
    Saying Bally a while ago,meant unique excellence.
    But coping other good branch name, in this case Celine,it’s a way backwards for Bally.Dommage.
    Hope they read your article and make an effort to find a inspired designer who can give a new glamor to the brand.
    For they can improve their image trusting a competent person to give a face lift to the brand who once was the mark of Switzerland’s excellence.
    P.S. big fan of SNL. .

  • athenà says:


    athenà:

    Really excellent post
    I would expect more creativity from this great Suisse name.
    Saying Bally a while ago,meant unique excellence.
    But coping other good branch name, in this case Celine,it’s a way backwards for Bally.Dommage.
    Hope they read your article and make an effort to find a inspired designer who can give a new glamor to the brand.
    For they can improve their image trusting a competent person to give a face lift to the brand who once was the mark of Switzerland’s excellence.
    P.S. big fan of SNL. .

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