Bata Celebrates 120 Years

Bata is celebrating its 120th year with a special deluxe edition of its Bata Tennis shoe that pays homage to the firm’s history as well as its manufacturing heritage in India.

According to Charles Pignal, the great-grandson of company founder Thomas Bata, he got the idea while living in India for the past 18 months to oversee the market.

“We thought it would be fun to bring out a classic vintage shoe from our archives, and God knows that after 120 years, we have vast archives across many different countries,” he said.

The Tennis style, Pignal said, is manufactured as a gym shoe for school children in the country and has been “one of the pillars of our business in India” since 1936. Lausanne, Switzerland-based Bata has sold more than 500 million pairs.

The $60 style will be available in unisex U.K. sizes 2 to 11 and will deliver in mid-May to retailers including Dover Street Market in New York, London and Tokyo; The Webster in Miami; and Colette in Paris. Created with upgraded canvas and available in three colors, the shoe will, like the original, be manufactured in the company’s Batanagar factory (which translates to “Bata Ville”).

The shoe project is also a nod to the Bata-created towns across the globe that were created in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s to “provide a center where employees could have access to schools, health care and supermarkets,” said Pignal.

“Batanagar is emblematic of the values of Bata, which were to try and be involved as much as possible in all the processes of product and to create these factories to create jobs in the community,” he added.

The Bata Tennis shoe is the first of many planned by the brand, according to Pignal.

Further changes in the works will usher the company into a new era, he added.

“We have new management and a creative team, and we’re developing great-looking new collections and stores that will be launched later this year,” Pignal said.