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Skate Shoes from a Tennis Brand Youknowwhattheysayaboutteachinganolddoganewtrick? Behind the Wilson brand name is one of the oldest shoe com- panies in the US. Started in 1913 in Chicago under the name Ashland, the company was renamed Wilson in 1916 after its president Thomas Wilson. The company rose to fame during its 35 years as the main dis- tributor for Converse up to 1977 and was initially synonymous with tennis shoes. How did the connection to skateboarding come about? As legend has it, the company’s signature shoe for legendary NCAA basketball coach John Wooden became a big success with skaters in 1977. According to pro basketball player Brother Ray, the shoes “were indestructible. They were the first sneak- ers I saw with a polyurethane bottom. I loved them. I had them in natural nubuck which was between leather and suede.” The John Wooden shoe was discontinued after a year, and instead of abandoning skaters, Wilson followed up by serving their own version of skate-specific shoes. The verdict? Not bad, especially for a tennis company. The nubuck upper material, reinforced lower ankle section in the back and ankle padding under the top sleeve would hold up quite well according to cur- rent standards. 80