Designer Product,Everyday Object,
Research Topic

The starting point and the occasion for this conference is a ZHdK research project on the renowned Swiss shoe manufacturer Bally. Entitled “Diversity versus Scarcity,” the project explores the design and economic challenges faced by the Swiss shoe industry between 1930 and 1950. The conference provides insights into shoes as a research topic, discusses the importance of (shoe) company archives, and considers the history of design during the investigated period.

In the first three decades of the twentieth century, shoes evolved from being an everyday object into a fashion product. The diversification of clothing brought about by industrialisation now extended to shoe production. Besides functional specialisation, in particular of occupational footwear and sports shoes, the fashion segment became more differentiated, leading to an increasing number of women’s and to a lesser extent of men’s shoe models. Which new shoe shapes emerged during this period? Which materials were used, and for which reasons?

The Significance of Design

Designers like Salvatore Ferragamo, Roger Vivier, and Andre Perugia, as well as companies like Bally und Bata, designed and produced a variety of products featuring new shapes, colours, and materials. Shoes became an important growth factor within the clothing industry. What are the hallmarks of a designer like Roger Vivier? What is the role of designers in industrial shoe production? How are economic decisions and fashion developments interlinked?

War and Design
With the outbreak of World War Two and the resulting shortage of materials, shoes became a political issue. Warfare meant that far-reaching economic relations became uncertain or broke off completely. These developments not only called for legislative measures to guarantee adequate supplies for the civilian population but also affected exports. How far did material scarcity, in particular of leather, initiate technical and design innovations? How were new products received by consumers? How were developments in Switzerland related to those in Nazi Germany and in other countries?

Company Archives
Company archives, such as Bally’s, contain not only product samples from a history spanning over a hundred years, but also diverse files and records, advertising materials, and many other artefacts. How can these historical treasures be studied and made accessible to interested members of the general public?

Concept and Organisation
Anna-Brigitte Schlittler and Katharina Tietze, Style & Design, Departement Design, Zurich University of the Arts in association with the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts and the Institute for Design Research. Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation

Thursday, 6.11.2014


Guided tour of the exhibition «Fashion Talks» by Bitten Stetter, Co-Curator, Gewerbemuseum Winterthur.


Guided tour of the exhibition «The Tie» by Joya Indermühle, Co-Curator, Landesmuseum Zürich. (Please register for the guided tours before the conference: .)

Fashion and Glamour

13.30 – 14.00

Welcome Introduction: Anna-Brigitte Schlittler und Katharina Tietze, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste
Greeting: Erhard Schwendimann, Managing Director Retail Europe, Bally

14.00 – 14.45

Patricia Mears, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York:
Elegance in the Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s

14.45 – 15.30

Martin Kamer, Zug:
«Lydia de Acosta Lydig’s Shoes by Pietro Yantorny»

16.00 – 16.45

Katharina Tietze, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste:
Schönenwerd – New York: Evening Shoes in the 1930s

16.45 – 17.30

Birgit Haase, Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg:
“Walking in Crocodile”: Fashionable Ladies’ Reptile-Leather Shoes

17.30 – 18.15

Gertrud Lehnert, Universität Potsdam:
Luxury: Positions and Concepts

Friday, 7.11.2014
Bally and the Market

10.00 – 10.45

Roman Wild, Universität Zürich:
“Frau Mode spielt auf!”: Reflections on Fashion(able) Metaphors and Discourses in Switzerland, 1918–1948

10.45 – 11.30

Adelheid Rasche, Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek Berlin:
Tradition and Topicality: Bally Advertising Posters

11.30 – 12.15

Tobias Ehrenbold, Basel:
Sneakers and Folklore: Bata’s Advertising Campaign for a “Unique Swiss Rubber-Shoe Manufacturer”


Company Archives

13.30 – 14.00

Daniel Nerlich, ETH Zürich:
Company Archives in Switzerland

14.00 – 15.00

Workshop 1: Company Archives – Opportunities and Problems
Initial talk: Christoph Schön, Hanro-Archiv, Liestal

Workshop 2: Archives and Museum
initial talk: Tido von Oppeln, Werkbundarchiv/Museum der Dinge, Berlin

Workshop 3: Archives and Research
initial talk: Alexis Schwarzenbach, Hochschule Luzern

Shoe Design

15.30 – 16.15

Rosita Nenno, Deutsches Ledermuseum Offenbach:
Roger Vivier and the Parisian Laboremus Model Service: The Conquest of the North American Market in the 1930s

16.15 – 17.00

Stefan Rechsteiner und Patrick Rüegg, Velt, Berlin:
Thought Structures for a New Diversity of Men’s Shoes

17.00 – 17.45

Alexandra Murray-Leslie, University of Technology, Sydney:
BIPEDShoes: computational footwear as tools for the feet

Saturday, 8.11.2014
Shoes and War

09.00 – 09.45

Kerstin Kraft, Universität Paderborn:
Everyday (Shoe) Fashion in the 1930s and 1940s

09.45 – 10.30

Elizabeth Semmelhack, Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto:
Accessories of War: Gender Politics and Platforms during World War II

11.00 – 11.45

Anna-Brigitte Schlittler, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste:
“Is that gal also blind?”

11.45 – 12.30

Anne Sudrow, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam:
Fashion as a Knowledge Problem in European Shoe Manufacturers During the Interwar Period


Style and Function

13.30 – 14.15

Maria Spitz, Draiflessen Collection, Mettingen:
The Casually Elegant Gentlemen of the 1930s

14.15 – 15.00

Nike Breyer, Marburg:
“Only wear good leather shoes that fit the shape of your foot”: Swiss Initiatives for Promoting Foot Health (1858 and 1937)

15.00 – 15.45

Daniel Späti, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste:
“Functional” Shoes: The Development of Functional Shoes, their Differentiation, and Interfaces with Fashion

16.15 – 17.00

Ursula Helg, Freie Universität Berlin:
Looking at Other People’s Feet: Walking Barefoot versus Designer Shoe Bluffing. Two Fictions of Modernity and their (transcultural) Interrelations

17.00 – 17.45

Christopher Breward, Edinburgh College of Art:
Men’s Footwear and Modernity

Christopher Breward
Men’s Footwear and Modernity

This paper focuses on debates around masculinity, fashion and identity explored in Breward’s essay of the same title in Riello & MacNeil’s book ‘Shoes’ of 2006. Addressing debates around mass production, technology, hygiene and social class prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it seeks a context in which the development of the idea of the classic man’s shoe can be understood. The final section of the presentation addresses some related but dialectical issues with respect to the rise and fall of men’s heels in European fashion history from the seventeenth century to the present. Prepared for publication in the catalogue accompanying the forthcoming exhibition on fashionable shoes to be held at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, in 2015, it challenges the dominant historiography and looks to explain style change through questions of function, politics and style.


Nike U. Breyer
“Only wear good leather shoes that fit the shape of your foot”:
Swiss Initiatives for Promoting Foot Health (1858 and 1937)

In 1937, the “Federal Committee for the Shoemaking Industry” initiated a “larger campaign to enlighten the Swiss population on the necessity of promoting foot health with the help of practical shoes.” The broad-based campaign was funded with a credit of 14’000 Swiss Francs from the Federal Ministry of Defence. The campaign included a 40-minute “educational film about promoting foot health.” The film was screened in 200 Swiss cinemas, accompanying the silent film “Im gleichen Schritt und Tritt,” which was shown in Swiss army barracks, and “Jedermann gut zu Fuss,” an exhibition that toured the country’s larger applied arts and crafts museums. As far as can be reconstructed from the limited surviving souces (housed in the Federal Archive), this state-funded initiative sprang from various motivations. On the one hand, the campaign aimed to stimulate the sales of Swiss quality shoes and high-quality repairs, and to strengthen the position of Swiss shoemaking against cheap foreign competitors, such as the Czech shoe manufacturer Bata. On the other, it sought to enhance “popular health” and “marching ability” (of the Swiss army). Both aims, which were well-established in Switzerland at the time, were evident already 70 years earlier, in the historic “shoe reform,” after which footwear was reconceived in the second half of the nineteenth century. Reform efforts also concentrated on military shoes. Influenced by new conceptions of hygiene, appropriateness, and corporeality, civilian footwear was also redesigned. This talk discusses the campaigns of 1858 and 1937, outlines continuities in thinking about shoes over a longer period of Swiss history, and places the initiatives in their respective contexts (such as the “spiritual defence of the homeland” in the 1930s).


Tobias Ehrenbold
Sneakers and Folklore: Bata’s Advertising Campaign for a “Unique Swiss Rubber-Shoe Manufacturer”

The entry of Bata into the Swiss shoe market sent shockwaves through domestic competitors, above all the mighty Bally corporation. Claiming that Bata’s “inferior mass-produced goods” damaged “Swiss quality products,” the various shoemakers’ associations declared a “Bata Boycott” to prohibit trade with a company that had entered Switzerland in 1929. Besides its foreign origin—Bata was founded in Zlin (Czech Republic) in 1894—the bone of contention was Bata’s use of rubber. This talk explores the antagonistic stance adopted by Bata’s competitors against its use of rubber-soled shoes, galoshes, and boots. A cultural-historical study of Bata’s marketing during the 1930s reveals how the company used its “strange” and “unhygienic” shoes to fashion a decidedly Swiss image of itself. In the course of the so-called “spiritual defence of the homeland,” Bata presented itself as a “unique Swiss rubber-shoe manufacturer.” During the following years, well-known commerical graphic designers (Leupin, Brun, Eidenbenz, etc.) stylised the first sneakers ever manufactured in Switzerland as the icons of emerging mass sports. Today, the so-called “plimsole” (made of cloth and rubber) is widely recognised as the classic emblem of “sneaker culture.


Birgit Haase
“Walking in Crocodile”: Fashionable Ladies’ Reptile-Leather Shoes

Since the 1920s, and particularly in the following decade, elegant accessories, including luxurious ladies’ shoes made of exotic reptile leathers, became more and more fashionable. This fact is well-known and documented both by numerous objects that have survived from that period and by contemporary photographs and advertisements. However, the reasons for the emergence of this new fashion have remained largely obscured from view. One can only surmise what may have initiated this development, for instance, particular aesthetic and cultural factors as well as certain technological innovations and economic conditions. This talk draws on partly unknown exhibits and visual materials to account for the rise of reptile-leather shoe fashion, which began in the 1920s, peaked for the first time in 1930s, was kept alive partly with substitute materials during World War II, and flourished again in the 1950s. The approaches and claims advanced tentatively in this talk are meant to serve as starting points for further discussion.


Ursula Helg
Looking at Other People’s Feet: Walking Barefoot versus Designer Shoe Bluffing. Two Fictions of Modernity and their (transcultural) Interrelations

Just as Western culture directly linked the absence of shoes with the absence of civilisation, so did the longing for walking barefoot thrive in our part of the world manifest the desire for a natural, pristine existence. And just as convinced as the West was of its superiority as a civilisation (not least its clothing and footwear), the most suspicious it became of the manifold ways in which its achievements were appropriated by other cultures. This talk focuses on the “shoe” as an everyday object to explore hard-and-fast cultural fictions from an inter-relational perspective and to discuss the Western designer shoe as a trophy of modernity among Congolese dandies and Ivorian posers. Which notions of appearance and reality blend in the yearning for walking barefoot and in designer-shoe bluffing? And what really lies behind the manifold performances of seeming naturalness and conscious bluffing?


Martin Kamer
«Lydia de Acosta Lydig’s Shoes by Pietro Yantorny»

An Italian shoemaker and his Cuban-American client Rita de Acosta Lydig (1875–1929) are the protagonists of my talk. Yantorny the self-styled «most expensive shoe-maker in the world» and the socialite Mrs Lydig.
Mrs Lydig, a celebrated beauty who travelled continuously between New York, Paris and London, is mostly remembered through her wardrobe of Callot Soeurs couture clothes and Yantorny shoe trunks, now preserved at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Yantorny was the supreme shoe-maker/artist of the late Belle Epoque and early Twenties. In Mrs Lydig he found his ideal client: immensely rich, beautiful, stylish and glamorous. She not only bought shoes from him; she also brought him many unusual materials and commissioned him to concoct creations of rare beauty. As we shall see, theirs was a very fruitful collaboration, as was Mrs Lydig’s with the Callot Soeurs, whom she commissioned to design clothes to complete a total fashion look with her Yantorny shoes. Mrs Lydig also inspired society painters, such as Boldini, John Singer Sargent and Helleu, as well as photographers, such as Steichen, Baron de Meyer and Gertrude Kaesebier. I would like to show you the interdependence between the glamorous world of the haute-monde and the world of the fine arts at the end of the Belle Epoque, which came to such an abrupt end in 1914 with the beginning of World War I.


Kerstin Kraft
Everyday (Shoe) Fashion in the 1930s and 1940s

Besides epochal divisions and chronology, the relevant literature applies various other classifications and categories to represent the vast field of fashion and clothing. These classifications and categories often distinguish clothing for men, women, and children from so-called accessories like shoes, handbags, head coverings, scarves, gloves, etc. Using selected examples from the period 1930–1945, this talk dissolves this distinction and discusses the interconnections between the particular shaping and tailoring of women’s shoes and clothes and the development of such fashions. Given my focus on everyday (shoe) fashion, I also consider the relationships and differences between fashion ideals and models, such as Haute Couture or the wardrobes of film stars, and the clothes actually worn in everyday life. Source materials include the representations of everyday forms of clothing and accessories appearing in various magazines (fashion drawings and photographs) and private photographs. Other sources include written materials, the results of object analyses, and the testimonies of contemporary witnesses. The talk also includes reflections on the use of multiple sources and methods and on working with company archives.


Gertrud Lehnert
Luxury: Positions and Concepts

Luxury eludes precise definition. Definitions are time-bound and depend on many factors. This talk outlines some basic concepts of luxury since the eighteenth century and discusses these concepts using the contrast between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, two fierce competitors in the fashion market.


Patricia Mears
«Elegance in the Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s»

On view at the Museum at FIT in the spring of 2014, this exhibition presented the great technical and aesthetic developments that led to the creation of truly «modern» clothing. The decade’s hallmark style – fluid, unstructured, and body-conscious yet elegantly proportioned – was a marked break from the sculpted and rigid alterations of the human form that characterized the attire of the preceding Victorian and Edwardian periods, and from the shapeless, tubular silhouettes of the 1920s as well. Inspired by the streamlined aesthetic and enriched by softer textiles, innovative tailors and dressmakers crafted clothes with shape and form, but systematically «deconstructed» them by removing padding and boning.
«Elegance» was the first exhibition to compare women’s high fashion to bespoke menswear, and to do so from an international perspective. Furthermore, because of its focus on craftsmanship, the exhibition highlighted less well-known couturiers, such as Madeleine Vionnet and Augustabernard, as well as tailors, such as Fredrick Scholte and Vincenzo Attolini.
The trend towards softer and classically-proportioned clothing for both men and women was complemented by hand-crafted hats, gloves, jewelry and especially shoes. Masterfully-crafted footwear by André Perugia for women and George Cleverley for men as well as shoes worn by Fred Astaire were also key elements of the exhibition.


Alexandra Murray-Leslie
BIPEDShoes: computational footwear as tools for the feet

The field of New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), and its sub-genre, Digital Musical Instrument design (DMI), is a relatively young area of exploration. This is especially true of wearable DMI for the feet, the topic of this research; like each new field, wearable DMI is still taking shape.
The research explores ideas of designing aesthetic, visual and acoustic wearable DMI footwear and their impact on dramaturgy in performance. The BipedShoe project acknowledges past developments in footwear and looks at symbolic experiences with technologically enhanced aesthetic prosthetic extensions of the body. Acoustically and visually aesthetic, mechanical and sensorial extensions and their movements are explored and documented. The impacts of the different choices throughout the development process are considered. Theories of creativity and movement using these body-centric devices are learnt and adopted to arrive at ways this knowledge can impact dramaturgy in performance. Focussing on the body and its capacity for movement opens up potential to explore the body with foot-centred musical devices. Through my praxis, I demonstrate how engaging the feet with foot-worn musical instruments affects ideation, movement and associated sounds.
The research also presents a series of shoe-based prototypes made by the «artformance» group Chicks on Speed and shoe designer Max Kibardin and their utilisation in experimental workshops, live art and exhibitions.
The BipedShoe project is being undertaken in academic, scientific and artist-in-research residencies; the collaboration includes researchers at The University of Technology, Sydney (Creativity and Cognition Studios, School of Software), The University of Western Australia (SymbioticA, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology) and Penn State University (Kinesiology, School of Visual Arts), with funding from the European Union and Australia Council for the Arts.


Rosita Nenno
Roger Vivier and the Parisian Laboremus Model Service: The Conquest of the North American Market in the 1930s

Laboremus, whose headquarters were located at Paris’s Place Vendôme, was a French subsidiary of the German tannery Heyl‘sche Lederwerke Worms-Liebenau. Following a first wave of enthusiasm, Laboremus purposefully targeted the North American shoe market. Its first purchasers included Miller and Delman in New York. Vivier designed models from Chevreau leather tanned in Worms, whose nuances were finely attuned to the colours of Parisian fabrics and distinguished themselves from plainer dresses with their gold plating and structural embossing for elegant evening sandals. The asymmetrical patterns and creations bearing witness to a profound love of detail, which were characteristic of Vivier’s formal idiom from the beginning, shaped the international shoe market for almost seventy years, including Christian Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent shoes. The “doyen” of the shoe business remained innovative into his old age: he died in 1998, after his design for a plexiglass sandal had caused a great stir. The German Leather Shoe Museum in Offenbach houses no less than fifty of Vivier’s prototypes from the 1930s. A gift from the Baron of Heyl, the exhibits provide a deeper insight into Vivier’s hitherto largely unexplored early work. This talk draws on the rich archival materials available in Worms, which help to illuminate the workings of the international shoe market in the 1930s. The exhibition “Roger Vivier: SchuhWERKE” (open until 7 December 2014) presents the findings and results of ongoing research on Vivier for the first time. From February 2015, the exhibition will be on display at the Nederlands Leder & Schoenen Museum in Waalwijk.


Daniel Nerlich
Company Archives in Switzerland

Except for the statutory requirements of the Swiss Code of Obligations, Swiss companies are free to decide whether they wish to maintain archives or not, and what is archived or not. Companies maintaining archives find themselves amid a force field of three diverging interests: those of the archivists, those of persons seeking information, and those of third parties documented in the archives. Intellectual property rights, the principle of public access, and data protection and privacy acts constitute three decisive legal categories to be considered in the context of archiving. These categories are the site of the delicate balancing of interests in setting up archives and defining their purpose (and access). Professionally maintained company archives demonstrate to various extents that neither company size nor the relevant statutory basis are sufficient grounds for creating an archive. Setting up an archive is rather a matter of the responsible actors being convinced of the value of well-organised company information. Content-based concepts for handing down company information to future generations and the accessibility of archives depend on whether companies wish to make their activities transparent or whether they are instead interested in promoting history marketing and corporate communication. In the event of insolvency and mergers, public archives spread their—admittedly differently meshed—safety nets. Ideally, the shared and well-balanced commitment of the public and private sectors will effect the sustainable and long-term dissolution of archives benefitting everyone involved.


Workshop 1: Company Archives – Opportunities and Problems
Initial talk: Christoph Schön, Hanro-Archiv, Liestal

Workshop 2: Archives and Museum
Initial talk:Tido von Oppeln, Werkbundarchiv-Museum der Dinge, Berlin

Workshop 3:  Archives and Research 
Initial talk: Alexis Schwarzenbach, Hochschule Luzern

Adelheid Rasche
Tradition and Topicality: Bally Advertising Posters

This talk considers various outstandingly well-designed Bally advertising posters, of which well over a hundred motifs are housed in the poster collection of Zurich’s Museum of Design. Focusing on posters depicting fashionable shoes, the talk explores the manifold interactions between fashion and accessories, as well as the particular designs of the various poster series.


Anna-Brigitte Schlittler
“Is that gal also blind?”

The satirical magazine Nebelspalter occupies a special role in the history of Switzerland during World War II: the magazine was a bulwark against any kind of totalitarian thinking and a stronghold of democratic values. Surprisingly, compared to other (foreign) publications of a similar persuasion, a large number of caricatures drawn by different artists depict fashionable appearance, particularly extravagant footwear. One company that comes into sharp focus in this context is Bally, the Swiss shoe manufacturer: the several hundred prototypes, which continued to be designed during the war years, reflect the—by all means ambivalent—image that Switzerland’s leading fashion company had of itself and of others. Thus, the Nebelspalter took aim specifically at Bally’s marketing of wooden-soled shoes as a patriotic fashion item. Other perennial issues made the subject of Nebelspalter caricatures include (female) fashion stupidities and pressing concerns like the scarcity of resources and substitute materials. Particularly striking is the extensive conglomerate of caricatures appearing in the early 1940s that linked a vigorous anti-Americanism with attacks on divergent definitions of gender, personified in the effeminate “swingling” and the aggressive “Tüpfi (a simpel-minded young woman).” Almost all Nebelspalter exhibits from this period culminate in the motif of carefully drawn platform shoes, which epitomise superficiality and decadence.


Elizabeth Semmelhack
Accessories of War: Gender Politics and Platforms during World War II

As the Second World War was brewing, the platform shoe re-entered fashion. Moving from the beach to the ballroom, designers such as Ferragamo and Perugia transformed platforms into luxury footwear, which quickly became a staple of the fashionable-forward woman’s wardrobe in both Europe and North America. Despite the platform’s currency within the fashion world, it did not possess much erotic appeal – heels remained a central accessory in men’s erotica. This split between the fashionable and the alluring female would serve a multiplicity of purposes during the coming war years. This paper will explore the various constructions of femininity promoted by platforms during the war period from Hollywood to Paris and will chart its demise in the post-war period, when fashion came into greater alignment with erotic ideals and the stiletto was invented.


Daniel Späti
“Functional” Shoes: The Development of Functional Shoes, their Differentiation, and Interfaces with Fashion

The shoe reform beginning in the mid-nineteenth century increasingly brought into view anatomical aspects of shoes design and construction. However, it was not until the first half of the twentieth century that shoes became more strongly differentiated in terms of their particular function. Over time, shoes became more and more distinct depending on the field of work or type of sport in which they were used. Differentiation, as this talk illustrates, was influenced largely by technological developments and new recreational opportunities. These developments became most clearly evident in the shape and nature of shoes soles or in innovative, constantly evolving construction details. The triumphant march of the loafer (the low-cut shoe) began, replacing the boot as the most important type of shoe. The concept of “functionality,” or rather the weighting of individual functional criteria and customer needs, now underwent further change. Besides foot protection (i.e., physical and technical aspects), fashion-related functions (i.e., symbolic, social, and emotional aspects) now rose to prominence in shoe design and arrived on the scene also in the case of functional shoes. This talk describes the development of functional shoes and their functional differentiation in the fields of work shoes, military shoes, and sports shoes and considers the interfaces between these various shoe types and fashion during the period investigated. The talk interrelates discourses on functionality, product design, and the uniformity and influence of fashion.


Maria Spitz
The Casually Elegant Gentlemen of the 1930s

The Draiflessen Collection in Mettingen is dedicated to various men’s clothing from the 1930s. Exhibits include a sportsmanlike suit and shoes, sound and film documents, and drawings and advertisements from the department store C&A. This talk presents a selection of source materials and, comparing these materials with a men’s magazine published by Baron von Eelking, considers how these exhibits illuminate men’s fashion (clothes and shoes) during the 1930s. Advertisements from the period reveal that the well-dressed man wore suits whose slim-fitting sports coats with their high waists, narrow hips, and short lapels were worn with wide trousers. These coats were combined with a shirt, tie, and pocket handkerchief, loafers or galoshes, and a hat. In 1932, C&A launched its own brand, “Formtreu.” Its characteristics were lavish horsehair inserts, which created a perfect fit with a rounded chest and rolling lapels. The dominating feature of C&A coats were double-breasted, broad-shouldered Ulster paletots—hybrids combining a heavy, sturdy Ulster overcoat and a double-breasted, waisted paletot. On less formal occasions, these sportsmanlike suits tallied with a casual dress style. The suit jackets had a wider cut, back and chest creases, a waist lock or belt, and thus provided the wearer with plenty of room to move.


Anne Sudrow
Fashion as a Knowledge Problem in European Shoe Manufacturers During the Interwar Period

Between the two world wars, fashion presented European shoe manufacturers not only with unprecedented opportunities but also with significant problems. On the one hand, the development of new manufacturing processes and new marketing methods enabled the shoe industry to mass-produce seasonal footwear instead of the hitherto prevalent standard range; these methods also helped fashionable shoes to prevail on the market as a mass-produced good. On the other other hand, changing consumer demand—particularly of female customers—complicated the steering of production and resulted in production and merchandising risks. Companies often fought against fashion, thereby rebuking the widespread opinion in economic history and in the history of consumerism that companies purposefully leverage fashion to “boost consumption.” This talk discusses the diverse strategies adopted by interwar shoe manufacturers to “discipline” fashion to suit their needs and considers the role of scientific disciplines and forms of knowledge in this respect. These processes ultimately gave rise to a new notion of the essence of fashion.


Katharina Tietze
Schönenwerd – New York: Evening Shoes in the 1930s

Extravagant women’s evening shoes from the 1930s are a striking feature of the Bally archive: elegantly shaped and delicately adorned sandals and pumps made of golden and silver leather, combined with colourful satin or rep, are among the archive’s highlights. But how should this array of precious exhibits, whose only surviving feature are the years in which they were produced, be classed and appraised? Seeking answers to this question, this talk explores the American fashion magazine Vogue, founded in 1892, which peaked in the 1930s under the stewardship of staff journalists Cecil Beaton and Edward Steichen and editor-in-chief Edna Woolman Chase. Unlike contemporary European fashion magazines, shoe fashion featured prominently in Vogue. Advertisements and editorials from the periods studied provide first-hand insights not only into contemporary forms and materials but also into the occasions on which particular shoes were worn and which clothes they were combined with. The United States were an important market for Bally, whose advertisements appeared regularly in Vogue. Edward Steichen was one of the best-known shoe fashion photographers of his time. His photographs contrast with those housed in the Bally archive, taken by company photographers, and focus attention not only on shoe fashion as such, but also shoes as a particular instance of fashion photography.


Stefan Roland Rechsteiner / Patrick Rüegg (VELT)
Thought Structures for a New Diversity of Men’s Shoes

VELT produces a new range of men’s shoes and develops alternatives previously unknown on the market. The force field of products lies between classic shoes for men on the one hand and sneakers on the other, whose styles are skillfully blended in VELT products. VELT designs, however, are neither artificial nor affected. Collections match a new understanding of masculinity. VELT is convinced that neither new materials nor new technologies are needed to create new designs and innovative products. Mastering and recombining existing designs continues to offer unlimited possibilities. Unmistakable designs are a matter of attitude. Diverse approaches illustrate a range of opportunities for future designs. Devising alternatives is fundamental. All too often, we feel quite comfortable with a particular variation of an existing design and forget what else would be possible. The market never mirrors all possibilities, but instead merely caters to a majority unfamiliar with the alternatives. Therefore, designers capable of developing and highlighting these alternatives are needed. It is just as important for designers to engage critically with the designed product and the design itself. This talk provides insights into VELT thought processes and its concept of design.


Roman Wild
“Frau Mode spielt auf!”: Reflections on Fashion(able) Metaphors and Discourses in Switzerland, 1918–1948

This paper presents a model of shoe fashion as an all-embracing socio-historical phenomenon. It shows that at various times talking about fashion (and the imagined social and economic consequences of such discourse) was ridden with metaphors and intent on concealing ignorance and unease. Whereas talking about fashion stiffened noticeably during the interwar period, it later became laden by the specific interests and motives of various actors. Thus, evidence of fashion-critical statements can be found in the bourgeois women’s movement, among life reformers and the medical profession, as well as among unionised shoe makers, social scientists, and even Bally directors.

Information and registration

The conference fee is CHF 50.00, payable upon arrival. Entrance is free for students and members of netzwerk mode textil e.V.
Please register for the guided tours before the conference:  .

Zurich University of the Arts
Museum für Gestaltung
Main Auditorium
Ausstellungsstrasse 60
8005 Zurich, Switzerland

From Zurich Main Station, take either tram 4, 13 or 17 to „Museum für Gestaltung“
Alternatively, the conference venue is within ten-minutes walking distance from Zurich Main Station

Conference languages
German and English

Sarah Pia

Die Grafischen

Illustrations/Website images
Shoes by Bally, 1930s and 1940s
Fotos: Manuel Fabritz, ©Bally


Eine Kooperation des Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts
mit dem Institut für Designforschung, gefördert durch
den Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.


Style & Design, Departement Design, Zurich University of the Arts in association with the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts and the Institut für Designforschung and

Swiss National Science Foundation

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