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Bally is founded in 1851 at Schönenwerd, Switzerland, by Carl Franz Bally. He uses his experience running his father’s elastic and silk ribbon factory to develop shoe-making techniques. Ribbon detailing and unusual use of elastic, as in Chelsea boots, become the trademark features of Bally’s shoes. Turnover reaches 1 million Swiss Francs in 1864. By 1880, Bally’s empire includes the cities of Alexandria, Barcelona, Beirut, Brussels, Cairo, Constantinople, Hamburg, Lisbon, Madrid and Vienna. By the mid-1880s, Bally was producing 100 pairs of shoes a day. The brand expands into South America. Carl Franz Bally dies at age 77 in 1899, leaving the business to his two sons, Eduard and Arthur. By the turn of the century, Bally has 3,200 employees and cranks out over 2 million pairs of shoes yearly. Shoe sales reach a record 3.9 million pairs by 1916. Their range expands to include shoes for every occasion, including wartime military footwear. The brand collaborates with renowned artists of the day such as Bernard Villemot, Laubi and Berset to create stunning poster art. The Scribe range of handmade men’s dress shoes is unveiled in 1951 by Max Bally, grandson of C. F. Bally. The shoes are named after the Hotel Scribe at the Boulevard Capucines in Paris. Technological innovation by Bally in the 1960s leads to a range of new materials. These include the rubber components in the boots worn by Neil Armstrong during man’s first walk on the moon. In 1976 clothing, handbags and other leather accessories are introduced.

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