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Wilsons House of Suede was a manufacturer-retailer of fine leather garments. Founded in 1950 in Beverly Hills, California by Jerry Wilson, it was known for its high-fashion style and quality. Jerry’s sons Tony, Jeffrey and Brian took over the store in 1964, and began producing TV commercials that they appeared in, raising the company’s profile and popularity.

In the 1970s the Wilsons moved their manufacturing overseas allowing them to lower their price-point and broaden their client base. The brothers expanded the business, opening stores in shopping malls across the country.

Melville Group acquired the 42-store Wilsons House of Suede and Leather chain in 1986. After Melville purchased Bermans – another family-owned leather business – it merged the two companies in 1988, becoming the largest retailer of leather coats and accessories in the United States. Over 500 traditional stores were operated under the new name Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. Melville operated Wilsons until 1996, when the company was sold to a management-led investor group. 
In the ensuing decades, the company has been forced to scale back operations and experiment with a variety of business models in an effort to stay afloat and avoid bankruptcy.

Written by Ranch Queen Vintage