The Story of a Classic: The Sperry CVO

Robb Report calls Sperry’s iconic CVO sneaker “the purest simplest classic.” Here’s why

You probably know that Paul Sperry invented the first boat shoe after slipping off his boat in 1934. After pulling himself out of the cold Long Island Sound, Sperry set out to design a non-slip shoe that would keep its grip even on wet decks. Inspired by the grooved paws of his dog Prince, who never slipped on board, Sperry invented the very first non-slip boat shoe. What you may not realize is that this shoe was not what we call the Top-Sider Authentic Original Boat Shoe today, but, in fact was the CVO sneaker.


The CVO- (or Circular Vamp Oxford) is iconic in its simplicity – quick-drying canvas upper, grooved rubber sole, simple design. With a design that riffs off the classic oxford shoes, the CVO became the official shoe of the US Navy, and a favorite of Sperry’s yacht club members. The shoe has been spotted on everyone from JFK to Mr. Rogers, and style leaders around the world for decades, and is available on in a range of colors, with Birch being the ultimate classic hue– still made using the same manufacturing techniques that have been used for over 8 decades.

Still a wardrobe staple, Robb Report says of the CVO “It is to sneakers, one could argue, what Levi’s 501s are to denim: the purest, simplest classic.” Read more about this must-have shoe here.