The town of Zlin grew up in the early 20th century around the shoe factory established in 1894 by Tomás Batá (1876-1932), which exported its wares to many countries. In the 1930s Batá also manufactured furniture, machinery and aircraft.
Parts of the town were planned by Frantisek Gahwa after proposals by le Corbusier had been rejected. Factories constructed for Batá include several buildings in the Bauhaus style. The company built a factory at East Tilbury, Essex, with an adjacent workers’ settlement in the same style. After the Second World War the production facilities in Zlin were nationalised but the international Batá company remained in family control and is based in Lausanne, with its own museum in Toronto.
The shoe museum in a former office building in Zlin is managed by the Museum of South-East Moravia, and includes comprehensive collections of shoes made by Batá, and of footwear from other countries.