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In the Mexican era, whole cattle hides were California's principal export. To prevent theft law enforcement sometimes checked the brands on hides before they were exported by sailing ship. Most went to the Boston-area shoe industry. The hides would stay intact during export and tanning, then be cut up at a shoe factory to be reused in the higher-value product. I figure that many, many copies of California cattle brands reached the hands of the Boston shoemakers.
The brand symbols are reasonably well documented in California records, but did anyone in Boston know or care which symbol was which? Was the branded part of the leather clipped and scrapped, or just incorporated into a discreet part of the shoes?
Converse – History, Philosophy, and Iconic Products
The Air Jordans of the early twentieth century, Converse have made the long journey from cutting-edge sportswear to casual-retro beater shoe of choice. Who among us hasn’t relished the process of totally destroying a pair of brand new Chuck Taylors? Yet it’s hard to think of these versatile shoes as anything remotely athletic.
As was briefly mentioned in our article on Shoe Silhouettes, rubber-soled, canvas shoes marked a significant moment in the history of athletic footwear and miraculously, they stayed popular even after athletes and their coaches moved on to better, more-engineered shoe options. Tastes and shoe-tech changed, but Converse stayed laced on the feet of American youth.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
David Dary, &ldquoCattle Brands,&rdquo Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 18, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/cattle-brands.
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Ossabaw Island Hogs
Early explorers brought livestock to the Americas beginning in the 1500s, including pigs that escaped or were deliberately set free in the New World. One of these is the Ossabaw hog, a feral breed that has lived for centuries on Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia.
The isolation of these island hogs has given rise to a breed that is the closest genetic representative of the historic swine brought over by the Spaniards.
The Ossabaw breed is biologically unique. The periods of feast and famine on the barrier island led to a biochemical adaptation similar to non-insulin dependent diabetes in humans, making the pigs a natural animal model for researching Type II diabetes. Ossabaw hogs are usually black, although some are black with white spots or light with black spots. Adult pigs are hairy, with heavy bristles around the head and neck. The breed is particularly well-suited for sustainable or pastured pork production. A few populations of Ossabaw hogs have been established on the mainland, but the critical status of this breed makes it a conservation priority.
Mrs. Butterworth, 1961-Present
Company: Mrs. Butterworth's
Syrup and pancake-mix company Mrs. Butterworth's adopted the personality of "Mrs. Butterworth" in 1961.
For years, the shape of Mrs. Butterworth's syrup bottles has been a point of contention. "Critics have long associated the shape of the Mrs. Butterworth's bottle with the mammy, a caricature of black women as subservient to white people," Maria Cramer wrote.
Conagra Brands, the parent company of Mrs. Butterworth's syrup and pancake mixes, has also released a statement saying that they have started a review of the brand and packaging.
"The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother. We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values," they said.
Converse Goes Casual
By the end of the 1960s, Converse was responsible for 80% of the sneaker market as a whole. This shift to casual sneakers solidified Converse All Stars as a cultural icon of the people, not just the athletic elite. Though the initial Chucks were in the classic black and white, they became available in a litany of colors and designs as well as limited and special editions. The shoe also diversified its textures to be available in suede and leather along with the original cotton style.
Converse All Stars began to lose their dominance in the 1970s when other shoes, many with better arch support, created competition. Soon, elite athletes stopped sporting All Stars. However, Chuck Taylors were quickly picked up by artists and musicians as a symbol of the underdog. The character Rocky Balboa wore Chucks in the movie Rocky, and the Ramones frequently sported Chucks because they were inexpensive. Elvis Presley, Michael Meyers, and Michael J. Fox all wore Chucks in their films, further marketing the sneaker as a shoe for young rebels. The cheap sneakers became a symbol of U.S. subcultures as the retro look fit the grungy style of the punk rock era.
Vans was founded by Paul Van Doren who was born in 1930 and grew up in the Boston area. At 14, he decided that school wasn’t really for him. His mother forced him into getting a job at Randy's, making shoes and sweeping the factory floor at the company where she also worked (a one-time Boston-based shoe manufacturer).
Starting at the bottom, Paul worked his way up the ladder and eventually became Executive Vice President of Randy’s after 20 years. Randy’s had become the third largest manufacturer of shoes in the United States. The company had a factory in Gardenvale, California that was losing almost a million dollars per month and Paul Van Doren, his brother Jim and long-time friend Gordon Lee were given the task of straightening out the factory. It took them only eight months to turn the Gardenvale factory around, resulting in that location that was performing even better than Randy's main headquarters in Boston.
After saving the Randy’s plant in California, Paul decided to take on the challenge of starting a new sneaker brand. He partnered with his brother Jim and long-time business associate Serge D’Elia. All three moved their families to Southern California and set up operation in Anaheim. It took almost a year to put together the self-reliant factory, and on March 15, 1966, the Van Doren Rubber Company sneaker line began producing their unique shoes.
Vans shoes were originally made right in the store. The brand took custom orders and had them ready for pick-up within a few days. The original Vans were designed with a diamond tread but this proved detrimental to longevity, so the brand added vertical lines in the tread to increase strength, friction, and grip. The tread was then officially named the "waffle-sole."
IN 1995, Vans stopped manufacturing in the U.S. The company now does their manufacturing offshore in factories primarily in Asia.
Granary Burying Ground:
Address: Tremont Street
Established in 1660, the cemetery was established when King’s Chapel Burying Ground became overcrowded. The cemetery used to be a part of the Boston Common and was named after the grain storage building that once stood next door.
In the 19th century, the headstones were reorganized to create straight rows but the graves remained in their original locations. It is estimated that around 5,000 people are buried in this cemetery although there are only about 2,300 headstones.
The cemetery contains the graves of many notable Boston citizens such as Paul Revere, the Boston Massacre victims, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Peter Faneuil and James Otis.
The History of Reebok in the Sneaker Industry
Reebok is one of the true innovators in the sneaker game. How they became a player.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: The history of a sneaker company is a wild ride.
The Reebok shoe company is like a streaky jump shooter when they are hot they are hot, but when they are not nobody is interested. This has been a way of life for the Reebok brand since its inception. They wow the sneaker industry one year, just to turn around and lay an egg the next.
The Reebok brand got its beginnings back in 1958 when it branched out as a sister company to JW Foster and Sons. Beginning in 1895, JW Foster and Sons started to manufacture shoes and sell them all over the United Kingdom. Even though they never garnered much attention, they were successful enough to be worn by the athletes in the 1924 Summer Olympics.
Then in 1958, Foster&rsquos grandsons decided to branch out to form a new company which they would call Reebok. They picked the name Reebok, which means African Gazelle, because they wanted to depict speed, style, and grace. Even though the company was selling the shoes at a decent rate in the United Kingdom, they were still having a hard time getting the shoes noticed on a world wide scale.
But in 1979 this would all change. At the Chicago International sneaker trade show, Paul Fireman took notice of the Reebok brand. At the time, Fireman was working for an outdoor sporting goods distributor, and immediately saw great potential in the Reebok brand. He was drawn in by the customization of each shoe, as well as the high quality. Fireman felt that those two qualities alone would make this brand a hit with the North American population. Without wasting anytime, Fireman negotiated a deal to license and distributes the Reebok brand in the United States it was at this time that Reebok USA was born.
Then in 1989, Reebok introduced the Pump to the basketball world. These shoes were designed specifically with basketball in mind. The shoe used an air bladder which could be inflated by a small pump that was located on the tongue of the shoe. The pump was in the shape of a basketball, and when pushed it would inflate the bladder so that the shoe would conform tightly around the ankle. This shoe was designed to take on the &ldquoNike Air&rdquo, and debuted with a sticker price of $170 nearly double the price of other basketball shoes. But despite the huge price difference Reebok had a hit. Over a four year period they sold over 20 million pairs worldwide.
These enormous sales numbers were aided by Boston Celtic rookie Dee Brown in the 1991 All-Star weekend Slam Dunk contest. Brown came out for the competition sporting the black, white, and orange Pumps. In a moment that will forever be remembered by basketball fans, before Brown took off for his final dunk he leaned over and pumped up his Reeboks. After throwing down the contest clinching dunk (covering his eyes with his arm) he bent forward and deflated his pumps. The crowd went wild, and the Reebok Pumps gained instant notoriety as kids everywhere felt like this sneaker could take their game to the game level.
But just as quickly as it took off, the Pumps began to fade out of the public eye. This left Reebok without a number one seller, and scrambling for another big break through.
As sales continued to decline throughout the 90&rsquos, Reebok was looking for a way to regain a share of the market that was being dominated by Nike. After numerous efforts failed to produce results, Reebok decided to look for endorsements as a way to increase brand awareness.
In 1996, they pegged NBA newcomer Allen Iverson as a target. From 1996 to 2000, Iverson and Reebok had a lot of success promoting the brand both on and off the court. With Iverson quickly becoming an NBA superstar, his shoe which was known as &ldquoThe Answer&rdquo was selling at a fast pace and helping to bring Reebok back to the forefront of the industry. In 2001, Reebok made a huge commitment to Iverson by signing him to a life long contract which guarantees that he sports the brand until his days in the NBA are over.
Then in 2005, during NBA All-Star weekend Reebok introduced the new ATR (Above the Rim) Pump. This shoe is based off of the same technology as the original Pump, but this time the pump is located on the outer ankle of the shoe. It again allows for the athlete to get a perfect fit. During the 2005 All-Star game, NBA superstars Allen Iverson and Yao Ming showcased the ATR Pump to the world. This gave the industry their first look at the new Pump in action. In addition to Iverson and Ming, superstars Steve Francis, Baron Davis, and Jerome Williams are also wearing the new Pumps.
Shortly after the new ATR Pump debuted, Reebok was shook up once again. They were bought out by Germany&rsquos Adidas-Salomon for $3.78 billion. The reason for this merger is quite clear to everyone in the sneaker industry. Reebok and Adidas were constantly dueling it out for second place behind sneaker giant Nike. They feel that by joining forces, they may be able to overthrow Nike and become the number one sneaker manufacturer in the world. But they still have a long way to go before this comes to fruition. In 2004, Nike had approximately 36% market share in the United States shoe industry where as Adidas and Reebok combined for about 21%.
With Reebok joining hands with Adidas, they are looking to regain the popularity that they experienced in the early 90&rsquos. By continuing to build and market products around NBA superstars, Reebok kicks will soon again be popular among ballers all over the world.
Nike acquires A.I. platform Celect, hoping to better predict shopping behavior
After years of scooping up brands like Converse and Hurley, Nike is shifting its focus toward buying start-ups that help it behind the scenes.
Nike announced on Tuesday it has acquired Boston-based predictive analytics company Celect, marking its latest acquisition in a string of deals to bolster its direct-to-consumer strategy. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
With Celect's technology integrated into Nike's mobile apps and website, the shoemaker should be able to better predict what styles of sneakers and apparel customers want, when they want it and where they want to buy it from, Chief Operating Officer Eric Sprunk explained in an interview.
"Our goal is to serve consumers more personally at scale," he said. "We have to anticipate demand. We don't have six months to do it. We have 30 minutes."
Celect, which is based in Boston and was founded in 2013, will immediately be integrated into Nike's global operations team, the company said. Celect's co-founders will continue working as tenured professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and plan to consult with Nike on an ongoing basis as part of the deal.
Nike opted to acquire Celect versus "spending two to three years" trying to incubate the same platform in-house, Sprunk said. "It's really difficult work . predicting the retail shopping patterns and behavior. . This [acquisition] gets us much more accelerated."
Prior to buying Celect, Nike had already been on a buying spree.
In 2016, it bought Virgin MEGA, a digital design studio based in New York and backed by Richard Branson's Virgin Group, to help build out its SNKRS app, a commerce platform for shoes launched a year earlier. Then, in March of last year, Nike said it acquired consumer data analytics firm Zodiac in a bid to speed its "digital transformation," as its sales continued to shift online. In April, it announced its acquisition of computer-vision company Invertex, based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Nike hasn't disclosed how much it spent on any of these deals.
Invertex was ultimately behind the recent rollout of Nike Fit — a new 3D scanning feature within Nike's mobile app that's able to accurately predict what size shoes people should buy. Invertex CEO David Bleicher now heads up a digital studio for Nike in Tel Aviv. He told CNBC earlier this year: "The bigger vision is to [help Nike] create better shoes."
Nike expects Celect to help reduce out-of-stock rates and run into fewer situations where demand of sneakers and apparel comes unplanned. This could also lead to less pressure on profit margins, if Nike can control inventories better and not have goods overflowing in warehouses that people aren't buying.
The paradigm of how inventory is planned must change, Sprunk said. It's always been, when a wholesaler like Foot Locker places an order from Nike, that "signals demand." But the consumer needs to become the ultimate demand signal today, he said.
This feeds directly into how Nike is trying to sell more directly to consumers, shifting a bigger portion of its business away from wholesale channels.
Sales from Nike's Direct business rose 12% on a currency-neutral basis to $10.4 billion in fiscal 2018 from $9.1 billion in fiscal 2017, according to SEC filings. Direct revenue now makes up about 30% of total Nike brand revenue, the company said, fueled by online growth.
Nike shares are up about 8% year to date, bringing the company's market cap to $127 billion.