Ever wanted to design your own boots? Now you can at the flagship Baťa store on Václavské náměstí and the cost is only 2999 Kč. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Sadly, the implementation is messy and you’ll need to be determined.

We visited at 3pm on Sunday 18th December. The Baťa Design Studio is on the left as you enter.

Looks great, right? Sadly, the studio isn’t manned by someone who can offer advice and discuss options. Instead, when we arrived, the stools were occupied by some bored shoppers – having a rest in the warm before venturing out into the cold.

The sign describes what you’re supposed to do.

We later discovered that you can also experiment online at http://batadesignstudio.cz/ – the boot appearance changes to reflect your choices. You can’t order online, instead; you need to click ‘summary’, print out your choices and take it to the store. The online version doesn’t offer the choice of inner lining, nor a shoe size, so be ready to choose that when you visit.

The various leathers, inner linings, stitching cotton, laces, soles and eyelets are on display.

And there are some example boots.

Luckily, there was a boot in my size and I was able to try it on – otherwise you’ll just have to hope for the best as there are no refunds.

We spent fifteen minutes choosing a combination and went to find an assistant. I was, naively, surprised that nobody had appeared, as normally one has to fight off assistants while shopping. We found an assistant, working a checkout, who advised that she was only one of two working that floor and to please wait. She also said that it’s possible to do everything online and that the in-store process can take a few hours.

The assistant appeared with an iPad, which I now realise was just pointed to http://batadesignstudio.cz/ and we went through our choices. Some weren’t available, but the assistant couldn’t explain why – just computer says “no”. We asked about the choices of soles – was it just a colour choice, or a material? Don’t know. We asked if we could choose the same laces as the display boot – “no, we don’t sell those, they must come from some shop that sells laces”!

It was clear that the poor assistant hadn’t received any training related to design studio – I expressed my disappointment and we left. Our assistant returned to man the tills.

Undeterred, we called the Baťa store on Monday and found that the person who understands the system is Mr. Zeman – no, not the Czech President. The way to contact him is to call the ground floor and ask for him – he says he can only speak a little bit of English, but, like most Czechs, I’m sure he’s much better than he thinks.

Having confirmed that Mr. Zeman was working, we headed to the store. He explained that the concept uses end of rolls and offcuts – the result is that not every choice is available, although new choices appear regularly. The choice of sole is just colour, but all are good in the snow. The laces are an odd one, apparently some customers received the display laces with their boots, as well as their choice of laces – but he wasn’t sure what would happen.

The ordering process is completely paper based – the iPad is only to demonstrate choices. The order form requires a physical address and an email. Boots are delivered to your address and postage within Prague is included in the price. Mr. Zeman completed the form with our choices and we paid.

I’m looking forward to my bespoke, hand-made boots. If you would like a pair, call ahead and check that Mr. Zeman is working that day.

Baťa Design Studio is a great idea that is crying out for process improvement. Here are some ideas that could help:

  • Add at least one touch screen in store, connected to http://batadesignstudio.cz/ so that customers can experiment with their designs.
  • Improve the instructions on http://batadesignstudio.cz/ so that visitors know that they should print out their choices and take them to shop – ideally their choices formatted like the paper form used in store.
  • Enable online ordering – this can be as simple as making choices via the existing page, but then email them to designstudio@bata.com.
  • Employ a dedicated assistant who can man the Design Studio, offer advice, take orders and payment etc. Make people feel as if they are visiting a tailor.
  • Offer 2999 Kč gift vouchers, branded with the Baťa Design Studio logo and informing the recipient that they can create a bespoke pair of boots.
  • Train all staff. Baťa can’t rely on the daily presence of Mr. Zeman, sometimes he has to run the country!

18th January 2023 Update

I received my boots a few days ago and I’m really happy with them. The packaging was excellent and I really appreciated the extras, such as spare laces, a shoe bag and note from the person who worked on the boots.

The boots are good quality and really comfortable.