- Rhuigi Villaseñor and Swiss luxury house Bally have parted ways by “joint and mutual decision,” according to a statement sent to Footwear News.
- Villaseñor joined Bally in January 2022, and designed only two collections for the house. The upcoming Spring/Summer 2024 collection will be completed by Bally’s internal design team and shown at a coed fashion show during Milan Fashion Week in September.
- In addition to his work with Bally, Villaseñor is the founder, CEO and creative director of Rhude, the Los Angeles-based line he started in 2015, whose celebrity fans include Saweetie, Lena Waithe, Cynthia Erivo, Big Sean and Tyga.
When Nicolas Girotto moved into the Bally CEO role in 2019 from his previous position as COO, the shift signaled a larger repositioning for the brand. That included opening new flagship stores and wooing a younger audience, as well as working to re-engage the U.S. market, which had been floundering. The company currently has over 320 retail stores.
Villaseñor was seen as part of that turnaround effort. At the time of his appointment to creative director at the beginning of last year, Girotto said in a statement that he felt he had “found the right champion in Rhuigi, we are ready to move Bally to the next level. I entrust Rhuigi, a talented visionary, to continue evolving the contemporary relevance of our brand and accelerate growth while preserving Bally’s core values.”
Although JAB Holdings, the Luxembourg-based private equity firm that owns Bally through its JAB Luxury division, does not disclose exact sales figures per company policy, the company told WWD that year-to-date sales rose 20% compared with 2022. In that interview, Girotto said U.S. sales had begun rebounding at the start of 2021, as compared to its strong performance in the Chinese market, where it was trading at more than 40% of 2019 levels.
JAB Holding’s renewed interest in establishing Bally as a flagship luxury brand comes after a period of uncertainty for the two companies. In 2017, JAB said it was looking to sell off Bally, but a deal to offload the brand to Chinese textile group Shandong Ruyi fell through in 2020. Then COVID-19 hit and Bally’s revenues fell 27%.
Neither Bally nor Villaseñor’s team responded to requests for comment by press time. Villensenor, however, tweeted after the news went public, saying “never compromise your values or culture for anything.”
It’s important for the future and the kids I’m paving way for to have a proper road map, that leads them to proper enterprise value. Always focus on what you own and build the world u wish to have, never compromise your values or culture for anything.— Rhuigi (@Rhuigi) May 16, 2023
Upon Villaseñor’s exit this week, Girotto told WWD that Villaseñor’s creative contributions, passion, energy and creativity “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.”
Through his Rhude brand and outside of his work with Bally, Villaseñor has initiated several successful collaborations over the last six months. These include a capsule collection with automaker Lamborghini, which debuted in December and was expanded in April, and the second part of a co-brand with Puma, which began back in 2019.