Sperry Top-Sider

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Industry Footwear
Sports equipment
Founded 1935
Founder Paul A. Sperry
Headquarters Flag of the United States.svg Lexington, Massachusetts, United States
Area served
Key people

Rick Blackshaw, Brand President

Blake Kruger, CEO of Wolverine World Wide
Products Boating shoes
Parent Wolverine World Wide
Slogan "Odysseys Await"
Website [1]

Sperry or Sperry Top-Sider is the original brand of boat shoe designed in 1935 by Paul A. Sperry, older brother of writer and illustrator Armstrong Sperry, whose books often featured a sailing theme. Sperrys, or Top-Siders, were the first boat shoes introduced into the boating and footwear markets. Today the Sperry brand is owned by Wolverine World Wide and is headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts.


Paul A. Sperry was an avid boater who, like most boaters, risked injury while walking on the slippery deck of his boat. His design was inspired by his cocker spaniel, Prince. While watching Prince run across the ice on a winter's day in Connecticut, he noticed his dog's ability to maintain traction on the slippery surface. The pattern of grooves or cracks on his dog's paws gave him the idea for a canvas upper-shoe with a herringbone pattern of grooves on the sole. The cutting of grooves in the sole of the Top-Sider was an implementation of a process of splitting or siping a shoe sole invented and patented in the 1920s by John Sipe. This process was instrumental in maximizing the traction of the Authentic Original Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe, which was first introduced in 1935. Sperry's first shoe featured a white outsole, which prevented the shoe from leaving marks on a boat's deck. In addition to the initial invention of the Authentic Original (A/O), Paul Sperry is also credited with being one of the using the CVO, or Canvas Vulcanized Oxford, outsole design on his products. Sperry's shoes remained a niche product until 1939 when the U.S. Navy negotiated the right to manufacture the shoe for its sailors. As a result of the Navy contract, Sperry's business was purchased by the U.S. Rubber Co., which then marketed the shoe across the country.

The patent application for the Paul A. Sperry's Sperry Authentic Original boat shoe.

Present day[edit]

In 2012, Sperry, along with Keds, Stride Rite and Saucony, became part of Wolverine World Wide after a joint agreement with Blum Capital Partners and Golden Gate Capital acquired the Performance Lifestyle Group of Collective Brands for $1.23 billion USD. This effectively makes Sperry a sister company of Sebago, one of their main rivals in the boat shoe category.[1] In early 2015 Sperry President Rick Blackshaw announced that the brand had dropped the "Top-Sider" moniker from the company name as part of the footwear company's new brand campaign.[2] Sperry shoes are not restricted to the boating life and can be found in modern day wear on dry land, as well.


In 2009 Footwear News named Sperry Top-Sider the Brand of the Year.[3] In the same year, Sperry opened its first five retail stores with locations in Tampa, Florida, Orlando, Florida, Boca Raton, Florida, Kansas City, Missouri and Dallas, Texas; in November 2010, the brand opened stores in Burlington, Massachusetts, Houston, Durham, North Carolina and Westchester, New York.[citation needed]

Team Sperry[edit]

Sperry is the official footwear sponsor of the US Sailing Team Sperry, the US Junior Olympic Sailing Team and the US Paralympics Sailing Team.{{http://www.ussailing.org/olympics/|date=November 2015}}

The athletes of Team Sperry travel around the globe and compete in prestigious competitive events in their sport. They also assist the Sperry product team in the design and testing of performance footwear.

The Odyssey Project[edit]

In February 2015 Sperry announced that, in celebration of their 80th anniversary, the company was going to send 80 influencers, innovators, and athletes on surprise adventures around the world. Participating influencers would then create content and share blog posts about their journey on Sperry's website and social media channels.[4] As part of the brand's "Odysseys Await" brand campaign, Sperry encouraged consumers to explore and escape their comfort zone.

An Authentic Original boat shoe invented by Paul A. Sperry in 1935.
Sperry Top-Sider Store


  1. ^ "Saucony, Keds and Sperry Acquired by Wolverine Worldwide". Inside Insight. 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  2. ^ "Sperry Prez Rick Blackshaw Talks New Brand Identity". Footwear News'. 2015-02-19. Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  3. ^ Ernst Beaudry, Jennifer (November 30, 2009). "Brand of the Year: Sperry Top-Sider". Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Sperry Goes Back to Basics With a Campaign for Adventurous Millennials". AdWeek. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 

Further reading[edit]

  • R. Steele (April 2007). Boating Magazine.

External links[edit]