Is Bally More Interesting Than Gucci? Depends Who’s Tweeting

From the start, it should be acknowledged that the matchup is imprecise: Gucci is a full-service house, and Bally, which began life as a shoe manufacturer in the 1850s, still focuses on accessories. “At Bally it’s like the clothes are the accessories to the accessories,” Mr. Coppola said in an interview in 2014, the year he got the job.

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As for the clothing on display, restraint is Bally’s métier.

Credit
Stefania Curto for The New York Times

Indeed, at the store, approximately 30 items of men’s clothing were on display — that’s it. Some erotic outerwear, like the red velvet trucker jacket with a belt at the waist (a mere $2,795), or the black leather coach jacket with travel-theme green lining (*cough* $2,495).

Both were lovely to the touch and on the body. Neither was practical. More reasonable was a purple polo shirt with black and white trim ($310), with the B logo slanted at an angle so that if you squinted, you might see the tilted P of Palace Skateboards. (It was regal. I bought it.)

The women’s side wasn’t much different. The emphasis on scarves and purses and shoes was overwhelming, but also logical. I saw a sharp pair of soft-backed striped patent leather loafers ($675) that I recognized because Eva Chen had worn them on Instagram a few days earlier. (I’m not ashamed.)

It’s important to remember that Bally is Swiss, not Italian, or French, or British: Restraint is its métier, and any place in the store where it veered from that is where it suffered. I’ve long admired the company’s sneakers. One of my rare shopping regrets is not buying a pair of 1980s too-snug-but-what-the-hell navy low-top sneakers from the old Flight Club on Greene Street — and its basic high-top, with a crimson and beige stripe pattern, was smartly elegant ($495).

But when it strayed too far from purpose — I saw second- or thirdhand ideas from Valentino, Prada, Nike and, grotesquely, Giuseppe Zanotti — the charm faded.

In general, less is more here. Even when embellishment is the raison d’être of a certain piece, it’s done minimally. A few wallets were printed with illustrations from old company posters of a dapper half-man, half-shoe hybrid ($395 to $725). A set of leather goods was embroidered with a low-key space desert theme. By the women’s wallets were a set of luxe stickers ($50) designed to be applied to purses and wallets….

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