Shoes that built cities

Bata shoe company is not Indian but there have been good reasons to believe so. Introduced in the country in 1930s, during the time of British rule, in the middle of social and political chaos, I am not sure who wore Bata shoes except for the British..but five decades later, in the 80s, everyone was wearing them. With plenty of stores in every city, print ads in newspapers and magazines, Bata established strong recall value. And due to its simple and economical character, it slowly became every commoner’s shoe.

Bata shoes were also popular amongst school kids. If I remember well, the local shops selling school uniforms would always direct one to Bata stores for school shoes. The company has been around in India for almost a generation and it seems that India is where it originated from. The name sounds Indian. Good thing, Tomas Bata didn’t use his first name. But then, over a period of time, even a fancy European or American name could seem Indian…for example the toothpaste – Colgate. In many villages and small towns, Colgate still means toothpaste…and my guess is, for a long time, the term Bata was synonymous for shoes.

The company was founded in 1894 by Tomas Bata, the Henry Ford of Eastern Europe, in the city of Zlin, Czech Republic. Bata wanted to make the shoes as affordable as possible so that the greatest number of people could access them. He initiated a policy to set up townships around the factories for the workers and to supply schools and welfare. In building an ideally structured living environment, he attempted to create a “new industrial man.”

During its global expansion in the 1930s, the company started to set up villages all over the world called Batavilles. It established itself in Calcutta and started manufacturing shoes in a village Batanagar, which now is a suburban town.

Today, Bata has a retail presence in over 50 countries, with production facilities in 26 countries, and has sold more than 14 billion pairs of shoes.

The advertisement on the right is from a Polish weekly newspaper. The ad reads – “Peace to men of good will. Merry Christmas.” I think the ad is trying to show that the three kings are wearing Bata shoes, which made the trip possible, or maybe that’s reading too much in to it.


Ibadariakar,24. Freelance stylist.
Cardigan – Sarojini Nagar  Market
Brooch – Globus
Shoes – Bata
Socks – Shillong street


Edited by an old school girl.

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3 Responses to “Shoes that built cities”

  1. Tweets that mention Shoes that built cities « Wear about -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wearabout, Wearabout. Wearabout said: Shoes that built cities: New post up! #fashion #india #mumbai #blog #bata […]

  2. Avantika Sharma Says:

    especially loved this post!! good stuff!!!

  3. raquel chaves Says:

    I a designer and I’m making a research on Bata shoes in India!! 🙂
    Do you have any further info about this topic?
    my email is, please get in contact with me if possible!

    Btw, great blog!! 🙂

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