Bally is an American sportswear brand with a heritage that most brands would die for. I would say that I am quite a Euro/Anglophile when it comes to brands, with a lot of my favourite brands being synonymous with English and European casual culture or traditional English outfitters, but occasionally I do look across the pond and Bally are a brand that really caught my eye recently. They started making “sneakers” all the way back in the 1930s, starting out making plimsolls and gym shoes before progressing to (American) football, basketball and golf, catering for the sporting industry like no other shoe brand at the time.
As “sneakers” made the transition from practical sporting footwear into the world of casual and sportswear fashion Bally was one of the pioneers and are rightly seen as one of the forerunners of designer trainers, not just in America but around the world.
Fast forward to the 1980s and Bally started to become ingrained with the burgeoning hip-hop culture, and remains a big part of its history and style today. Sneakers and music go hand in hand in hip-hop culture but in today’s heady heights of Yeezy and the billion dollar footwear market it is easy to forget how it all started. Back in the early 1980s long before musicians were calling out brands in their lyrics and running sneaker empires, British – American rapper Slick Rick shouts out he’s wearing his ‘Bally shoes and fly green socks’.
Doug E. Fresh put Bally where it could be seen when he wore a pair on his 1986 album cover ‘Oh, My God!’, before featuring them in his music video for ‘All the Way to Heaven’ in a Wild West style shoot out with a pair of Adidas Superstars!
The relationship continues today, in 2015 Bally collaborated with Roc Nation rapper J Cole on a collection of hiking boots. And last year Bally collaborated with Swizz Beatz to launching a limited collection of sneakers, accessories and ready to wear, which awoke the culture of Bally’s urban history even further in the modern day.
Since the launch in September, Swizz Beatz, his wife Alicia Keys and hip-hop legends and artists including Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick, P Diddy, Fabolous, Nicki Minaj, Timberland, 2 Chainz and Joey Badass have all worn the collection. Other big names such as DJ Khaled and Pharrell Williams took to social media featuring the collection on their own channels in support of the launch while LL Cool J, Beyoncé and Jay Z were all personally gifted by Swizz Beatz. So I think it is fair to say Bally is back.
Bally Today – Spring Summer ’18
So what of Bally here and now? Well their Spring Summer 18 collection is out and it is something special. Despite the fact I wouldn’t regularly look to hip-hop and American casual culture for my style, I can at times be drawn into the American preppy look and this is something that comes out in this collection whilst still being heavily influenced by the urban culture of 70s and 80s New York City.
Here are my top picks from the collection, all available at the legendary Stuart’s of London
Take a look at the rest of our Label Discovery series.