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Bally launches Retro Sneakers collection | Style/Design Feature 

Sneakers, just like music, are an essential part of hip hop culture — their ubiquity on vinyl covers throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s spoke out as a representation of status. As rap music evolved, fans started paying attention to their favourite artists fashion sense and used sneakers as an accessible way to emulate their style. 2015 saw Bally collaborate with Roc Nation rapper J Cole on a collection of hiking boots. ‘Before I really knew about luxury brands, I knew the name Bally, and I knew in the hip-hop world this was something that Biggie was rockin’, Nas was rappin’ and even before that, Rakim, so it’s cool to be in that lineage.” Footwear News, August 2015. 

Bally has been creating sneakers since the 1930s. Starting with plimsolls and gym shoes and progressing to football, basketball and golf, Bally catered for the sporting industry like no other shoe brand at the time. As sneakers transitioned from their sporting practicalities to become part of everyday casualwear, the style or brand that you wore began to signal a sense of belonging. 

Jumping ahead to the 1980s and there sparked a period of time when the Bally name was synonymous with the urban hip-hop movement, gathering momentum in New York City. The early 80s saw an explosion of Bally within this community and the brand remains a status symbol even today. Bally sneakers rose to recognition as the first designer sneaker in the mid-1980s among rappers on the hip-hop scene. Long before musicians were calling out other sneaker brands in their lyrics, 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 Competition (1983), Galaxy (1983), Vita Parcours (1974) and Super Smash (1965) have all been taken from the extensive Bally archive and recreated as part of the SS18 collection. Bringing back Bally’s best sneaker styles from the past decades, the collection includes four replicas of its most successful lace ups, from hip-hop era classics to tennis shoes and sporty runners.

Last summer LIFE VOCABULARY's LV MAG section featured the latest collaboration by Grammy Award winning producer Swizz Beatz – a capsule collection of shoes, accessories and ready to wear, with designs by Spanish artist Ricardo Cavolo – which came about organically from Swizz Beatz’s longstanding respect for the brand: ‘I’ve been a fan of Bally since back in the day, growing up in the South Bronx. Bally used to be the signature of making it, Slick Rick, Doug E Fresh - ‘Fresh dressed like a million bucks/Threw on the Bally shoes and the y green socks,’ - and now to come back years later and be the one to bring things to a new’s amazing.’, 29 September 2017 

The authenticity of this collaboration was illustrated by the coming together of hip hop legends Doug E. Fresh, Slick Rick and Kid Capri at the launch in New York this summer, alongside new generation artists A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg, along with DJ Kitty Cash. 

Although hip hop is constantly evolving Bally maintains its inextricable link with the music industry. The new collection sees a reintroduction of four of Bally’s most renowned sneakers from past decades, reimaging the brand’s cultural relevance and solidifying the key message ‘Bally is Back’. 




A presentation by SHOWstudio.  Tuesday 19th September 2017.

This intimate London Fashion Week presentation allowed for all guests to get closely familiar with the fabrics, techniques and mediums Deborah used to create this collection.  The fluid and moving lighting created a complimentary juxtaposition with the static structures wearing the pieces.  The incredibly intricate works displayed a multidisciplinary and remarkable quality, showing classic clean lines, as well as flamboyant but balanced voluminous pieces.  More about Deborah Milner. 

Mobius Suit / Standing Wave Dress


Mobius Suit - British Wool



Reef Dress

Standing Wave Dress

Standing Wave Dress (detail)

Hokusai Wave Dress


Bally collaborates with Grammy Award-winning music producer and global entrepreneur, Swizz Beatz, on a collection of accessories and ready to wear, designed by Spanish Artist Ricardo Cavolo.  The collaboration came about with Swizz first reaching out to them last year through an IG post featuring a pair of Bally Ascona sneakers and the statement... ‘Bally is back!’ 

LIFE VOCABULARY (LV) received a selection of accessories from the 'Bally x Swizz’ collection. Editor Serena Hussain (aka HUSS) captured content in conversation with other Artists/Musicians in London (also shot within LV’s own HQ, HUSS ART HOUSE in South London).  

Watch the LV multimedia feature on a multidisciplinary and thoroughly current (and relevant) art driven collaboration.  The Artists/Musicians who took part in the conversation: Kayleigh Marshall of Marshall Art, Fontzerelli, and Cris Jaymez.

We got in touch with Cavolo - the Artist pivotal to the creation of this capsule collection - who along with his team offered us some exclusive insights into this new fashion offering:

"I had a conversation with Swizz regarding the essence and the direction for this Bally collection. Swizz insisted that he wanted freedom for the artists. Freedom for the artist is very important to Swizz, so I wanted to create a few characters representing the artists, when they let their inner animal out. Working with freedom and no borders means to work with that animal inside of us. These characters are a sort of gods or shamans with his/her spirit animal (as totems). The final artwork is a more complex composition of these characters letting their animals get out freely“. Cavolo. 

"A few years ago, Ricardo realized that his work could be articulated in many ways when people started getting tattoos of his illustrations or when fans created their own clothes with his symbols. Ricardo was working on his first fashion brand when Swizz and Bally offered to collaborate on this exquisite capsule collection. It was the perfect opportunity for Ricardo to work with / and learn from two epic entities, the timing was stellar. We are looking forward to see how the world will react to this strong and colourful collaboration”. Andre Bathalon - Manager to Cavolo. 

Cavolo’s eclectic style is based on the relationship between folk art, traditional and modern tattoo culture and European religious imagery.  He often develops characters, telling stories through the illustration of their experiences across time, using symmetry and symbolism to connect with a modern audience.  Cavolo’s prints will launch as part of the ‘Bally Collective, curated by Swizz Beatz’, continuing the brand’s commitment to creating a platform to playfully empower artistic license across emerging and established talent. 

Believing that art embodies culture and is an expression of life, as a child Swizz Beatz (Kaseem Dean) saw graffiti on the walls in the Bronx and wondered about its meaning. He began collecting art in his twenties, and in 2014 launched 'The Dean Collection', which is not only a collection of his own artwork but also a discovery zone for art enthusiasts who appreciate art not just from the greats but also from aspiring and new artists alike. 

Bally is a Swiss luxury brand established in 1851, anchored in an exceptional heritage of shoemaking. Today the brand offers unique and vibrant designs across shoes, accessories, ready-to-wear and eyewear.