Carl Franz Bally
Born October 24, 1821, founded the Bally Shoe company in 1851.
Carl Franz Bally was the 11th of 14 children of Peter Bally (1783–1849) and Anna Maria Herzog. His grandfather, Franz Ulrich Bohli (1748–1810) immigrated as a young man from Vorarlberg in west part of Austriato Schönenwerd in the Canton of Solothurn in Switzerland, working as a mason for a manufacturer of silk ribbons. Later, he established his own silk ribbon manufacture in that town, relying mostly on work outsourced to local weavers. His sons Peter and Niklaus continued and enlarged the firm producing also suspenders and elastic fabrics and building an extensive second facility in Säckingen, (Germany). Carl Franz, one of the ten sons of Peter, entered the business at age 17 concentrating on the newest products. During a business trip to Paris he visited a shoe manufacturing plant and began to think about producing shoes, founding his own small facility in 1851. After initial difficulties the business began to flourish and in the early 1870s he established sales organizations in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Montevideo, (Uruguay) and Paris, (France).
By 1880 Bally had transformed Schönenwerd from a sleepy farm village to an industrial center offering employment to hundreds of workers from the town and surrounding towns in what developed into one of the world’s leading shoe manufacturing enterprises. Leather goods are the heart and have lead BALLY’s Company.
Carl Franz was a progressive liberal, pushing forward many new ideas in the town, now taken for granted. He and his wife opened a special education school for girls, a kindergarten, an old-age home and a public swimming facility at the bordering Aare river. He built homes for workers and converted a flood region of the Aare in town into a luscious, publicly accessible park. He fought battles to break the long established bond between school education and religion (Schönenwerd is the location of a small monastery originally built around 600 AD) and supported the establishment of improved schooling facilities for grade schools and a regional middle school. To fill the need for workers he opened small manufacturing facilities in several towns in the surrounding region. He also served as a lawmaker in various local and federal positions. Carl Franz and his wife Cecile Rychner (1823–1893) had two sons, Eduard and Arthur, who continued their father’s business under the name C. F. Bally Söhne. Around the turn of the century, the firm employed some 3200 workers and produced over two million pairs of shoes a year. Carl Franz Bally died in Basel in 1899.
The Bally company was founded in the basement of their family home in Schönenwerd in the Canton of Solothurn, Switzerland and created through the passion and vision of pioneer Carl Franz Bally. His original family business was the manufacture of elastic ribbon but a journey to Paris and a gift of love forever changed Bally’s destiny.
During a business trip to Paris in 1849, Carl Franz wanted to buy his wife some lace-up booties – the popular shoe of the day. Unable to recall her exact size, he decided to buy twelve pairs in a range of sizes, knowing that one would certainly fit. Upon visiting the Parisian factory where the booties were made, he noticed that each shoe featured buttons with elastic closures similar to the kind his family produced in Switzerland. Inspired by the possibility of creating more jobs and improving the lives of local residents, he decided to expand his business into shoe production. Together with his brother Fritz, Carl Franz employed designers to assist and together, they began producing shoes made entirely by hand in the cellar of his Schönenwerd home.
The Bally Company was established in Schönenwerd in 1851 and three years later, the first factory located in the village centre was built. In 1854, Fritz Bally retired. By the 1870s, Bally was recognised as a footwear industry leader. The company’s name changed to CF Bally, and then to CF Bally & Sons when the brand’s founding pioneer handed the company reins to his sons in 1892. Carl Franz died in 1899 but undeniably passed on his pioneering spirit to his sons.
Bally grew internationally and opened stores in Geneva and Montevideo (Uruguay) in 1870, followed by Buenos Aires (1873), Paris (1879) and London (1882). In the 1880s, Bally was also one of the very first European luxury goods brands to open in post-reform and opening China. By now the brand had also extended its offering to include clothing, handbags and leather goods for both men and women (1976), and in 1990 would become truly global, opening in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Lebanon and Turkey.
Bally is currently under the leadership of CEO Frédéric de Narp (November,2013), with Pablo Coppola as Design Director (February, 2014) and parent company JAB Holdings at the helm. Anne-Marie Gaultier has also joined the brand as Vice President of Global Marketing & Communications. She started in April 2014.
BALLY companies continue to strive for what it was originally known for when first started in the basement of C.F. Bally’s home in 1851, high quality and luxury. More than 200 Bally stores around the world, as well as the opportunity to purchase Bally products on-line, gives consumers the products and the quality that C.F. Bally envisioned.
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