EXCLUSIVE: Bally, Rhuigi Villaseñor Part Ways

MILAN — Bally and Rhuigi Villaseñor are parting ways in what was characterized as a joint and mutual decision.

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Villaseñor joined the Swiss brand in January last year and chief executive officer Nicolas Girotto underscored the designer’s “creative contributions,” as well as his “passion, energy, and creativity [that] helped catapult Bally back into the spotlight, further rejuvenating the brand’s 170-year legacy through a modern, glamorous lens. I wish him all the best in the next chapter of his creative journey.”

Bally’s design studio will continue to carry the direction of the brand forward until a new creative organization is named. A coed fashion show in Milan is planned to present the brand’s spring 2024 collection during the city’s Fashion Week in September.

Villaseñor upped the brand’s visibility by bringing Bally back to the runway with a show in September 2022 in Milan — presenting a sensual and bold woman —  followed by his sophomore show in February. He also added his own spin, celebrating the brand’s storied curling boot by fusing unexpected Western details with traditional mountaineering motifs.

“My experience at Bally has been an incredible honor,” Villaseñor said. “I wish the brand nothing but the best in all its future endeavors and look forward to enjoying its next creative chapter.”

Born in Manila, Villaseñor grew up in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley and rose to become a fashion go-to for Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z, founding his own brand Rhude in 2015.

In a previous interview, Girotto told WWD that he realized tapping Villaseñor was “a bold choice, but you can’t win if you do what is expected of you. If you look at Bally’s past, it has a history of innovation — social, industrial — and it’s fascinating. The industry needs risk-taking and bold choices, youth and creativity to elevate and bring energy to the brand.”

The plan was also for Villaseñor to help Bally further develop the U.S. market, an objective for 2023.

Bally is headquartered in Caslano, Switzerland, and has 1,500 employees worldwide.

Rhuigi Villaseñor
Rhuigi Villaseñor

It has more than 320 stores worldwide and 500 multibrand points of sale spanning across 60 countries. Its e-commerce platform serves 61 countries.

Menswear accounts for 60 percent of revenues and Girotto is set on growing the womenswear category, originally Bally’s core business.

Shoes account for 40 percent of sales, followed by accessories, which represent 35 percent of the total. Ready-to-wear makes up the remaining share.

While declining to provide a sales figure, as per parent JAB Holding Company’s policy, year-to-date sales rose 20 percent compared with 2022.

As reported,  Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody is designing a series of capsule collections to be unveiled in January next year.

After an extensive refurbishment, in April Bally reopened its flagship in New York’s Meatpacking District — the first to roll out the new design concept by Villaseñor, decorated with vintage furniture and soft colors and luxurious fabrics.

The Bally Foundation at Villa Heleneum opened in April, with a first exhibition titled “Un Lac Inconnu.”

In May, the Bally Peak Outlook Foundation celebrates the 70th anniversary of the first successful summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay, who wore Bally reindeer boots on the trip. To commemorate the anniversary, Bally has created a dedicated capsule, where 100 percent of net proceeds benefit the foundation’s mountain preservation efforts.

Launch Gallery: Bally RTW Fall 2023

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