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Sports wouldn't exist without Wilson Sporting Goods. The makers of tennis rackets, baseball bats, footballs and once again, official NBA basketballs, the company's mark on athletic equipment and apparel is eternal and essential.
It wasn't necessarily a setback, but the one thing Wilson couldn't claim over other brands was a brick and mortar. That all changed Thursday with the opening of its first-ever shop. Located in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, the company's 108-year-old history is splashed across every wall. From inside the fitting rooms to behind the cash wrap, it's impossible to exit without learning a fun fact.
The opening also follows the launch of Wilson’s first ever Sportswear line earlier this summer. Perfect for the upcoming Olympic Games, a number of pieces boast red, white and blue colorways in addition to select neon tones and minimal hues.
"Even as a pretty experienced retailer and merchant, I learned so much about the strength of our brand within the four walls of that store," Gordon Devin, President of Wilson Sportswear said to Yahoo Sports. "There is no way to communicate quality, value, cohesion as well as when you put it all under one roof. I understand we're headed toward a future in digital, but I don't know how we create that future without having a physical environment to stand in and learn from."
At first glance, you might think basics such as tanks, skirts and jackets are comparable to what's already on the market. However, it's the fabric, silhouette and fit that really separate Wilson from the rest. Think of clothing professional athletes would sport during a match reimagined for everyday wear. Tennis skirts feature a a mesh exterior with a compression undershort. During play, multiple pockets comfortably store balls and while commuting to and from the court, can hold other valuables.
It's never too early to think of outwear for the fall. For their inaugural collection, Wilson included a playful bomber jacket that highlights a women's figure while also providing major coverage. The Globetrotting Windbreaker is manufactured with both water- and wind-resistant fabric, yet still has a soft moisture management lining to cool you down while headed to another activity.
This is only the beginning, too. Though he wouldn't reveal where future locations could be, Devin hinted expansion beyond the limits of the Windy City is probable. Those who either don't live in or plan to visit Chicago need not to worry. You can shop men's and women's apparel at Wilson's retail site. Linked ahead are a number of women's pieces that quickly sold out in store.