Sperry was born out of one stubborn man’s refusal to let slippery ship decks stand in the way for his love of the open sea. Inspired by his cocker spaniel’s paw pads, the Authentic Original Boat Shoe was born.
HOW THE ICON CAME TO BE:
1934 MAN OVERBOARD! Paul Sperry slips and falls overboard from his sailboat, the Sirocco.
1935 THE PROTOTYPE Sperry manufacturers the prototype: the Canvas Vamp Oxford (CVO), featuring herringbone-patterned grooves, called siping, to enhance non-slip traction.
1936 FELLOW YACHTSMAN GET ON BOARD Sperry writes to 500 of his fellow Cruising Club of America members asking them for opinions on the prototype. 497 of them reply asking for a pair.
1937 THE TOP-SIDER The Authentic Original Boat Shoe was born.
1939 PATENTED Sperry patents his non-slip sole.
1940 WAR EFFORT The U.S. War Dept. names Sperry Top-Siders as the official shoe of the U.S. Navy.
Top-Sider Sailors refer to the upper deck of a ship as “topside,” so it’s a fitting moniker for shoes that allow them to stay “topside” without slipping overboard.
1946 NOT JUST FOR SAILING ANYMORE War comes to an end and Sperry launches new styles for civilian use.
1968 LAUNCHING A TREND Newport Daily News reports Sperrys are becoming a trend.
“Then kids from New England took the shoes to other schools and it spread.” – NEWPORT DAILY NEWS
Celebrities such as JFK and Paul Newman have been spotted in the Topsiders.
1980 PREPPY STYLE Lisa Birnbach’s “The Official Preppy Handbook” solidifies Sperrys spot in prep history.
“WHEN THEY’RE LOOKING TO SEE IF YOU’RE PREP, THE FIRST THING THEY LOOK AT IS YOUR SHOES.” – THE OFFICIAL PREPPY HANDBOOK
1982 FAREWELL Paul Sperry passes away at 87, leaving a legacy of determination and innovation.
1987 CHAMPION OF THE SEAS Dennis Conner wins the America’s Cup and becomes the official Sperry spokesperson.
2020 COLLABS LAUNCH Now one of the biggest and most influential names in modern prep partnering with brands and celebrities like John Legend and Rowing Blazers.