Bata in the News: Straits Times on Bata’s “Cool Step Forward”
Bata in the news

On May 4, Singapore newspaper The Straits Times published two articles, both in print and online, about Bata's recent Fashion Weekend, and the new direction the company is taking to cater better to its target customers. The articles highlighted the way in which Bata is successfully appealing to younger consumers through a combination of style and comfort.

In the main article, entitled “Cool step forward: Bata shows it’s not just school shoes,” journalist Melissa Heng, who attended the Bata Fashion Weekend, described the event and also interviewed president of Bata Asia Pacific Roberto Longo to hear his views on the company’s new approach. Heng also published a second article the same day, describing the history of Bata, and giving some interesting facts about the brand.

Below is an edited version of the main article.

The neighbourhood footwear brand is now modernising its image, moving with the times from old-school to cool. Rather than just dressing the feet of primary school students and mature shoppers, the staid Czech label, now 123 years old, is pumping a little swagger in its shoes. Think contemporary sneakers with floral embroidery, sleek high-heeled pumps in metallic rose gold and, for men, dapper hightop brown leather shoes with a wingtip pattern.

The two-day showcase featured fashion shows, exhibits of its heritage products and live demonstrations of shoemaking techniques. In one show, the models changed their shoes on the runway, suggesting that flipping the footwear can totally transform a look. A model in a red power suit swopped her black stilettos for white sneakers with metallic details. This changed her powerful office look to a playful, sporty get-up.

The dapper direction is spearheaded by chief executive officer Alexis Nasard, who joined Bata in April last year. At the event, he highlighted Bata’s new manifesto, "Me & Comfortable with it". He says the label will offer sexy, comfortable and surprisingly affordable shoes to a younger target group of women and men of all shapes and sizes.

"We refuse the dictate that a woman in the 21st century has to choose between being gorgeous, beautiful and comfortable. We refuse the dictate that style has to be obscenely expensive and we refuse the dictate that for a woman to be beautiful and feel good about herself, she needs to be 180cm tall and 60kg light."

Mr Longo says that the brand, long regarded in Singapore as the go-to supplier of school shoes and footwear for the more mature set, wants to focus on working adults who are aged 20 to 35.

On the impetus for rebranding, he says: "We realised that today’s working women want to be sexy. And shoes are a part of the sexy feminine image. But we saw that most of the time, sexy shoes are not comfortable. So our mission is to combine the two. We want to make sexy comfortable while making comfortable sexy."

The label is also renovating and expanding its store in VivoCity (the largest shopping mall in Singapore) to match its rebranding message. The store will reopen next month. "The store in VivoCity will have screens that showcase fashion trends and information about the latest Bata shoe technologies," says Mr Longo.

Bata sales staff have been trained to better serve younger customers who want better service, for instance, sharing knowledge about shoe benefits like Insolia. He adds: "We realised that Angela and Roberto would want to be served by professionals who can help them to find the right fit of shoe and understand the material of the shoes."

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