Posted on August 19 2015
A shoe is usually not something that comes to mind when people think of life-saving devices. However, the Sperry brand came forth as a solution to a deadly problem. Discover the qualities that have made Sperry a trusted, sought-after brand since 1935.
Necessity was the Mother of Paul Sperry’s No-Slip Sole Invention
Founder Paul Sperry grew up listening to tales told by his great-grandfather about nautical adventures in the South Seas. He continued to grow up in an environment where the ocean was an intimate part of his everyday life. He entered the U.S. Navy as a first-class seaman in WWI.
After nearly drowning one day, he set out to invent a non-slip soled shoe for sailors to maintain deck grip and reduce the inherent danger on the open seas. After hundreds of experiments, he noticed how his dog darted across the ice with little effort. He then designed gum rubber soles with cut-out herringbone grooves patterned like dog’s paws. The wave-sided sole was very flexible, responding well to the give-and-take conditions found on ships.
The first shoes featured black rubber soles, but they kept scuffing boat decks. Sperry found that white soles did not leave scuff marks on deck, and the classic top-sider boat shoe was born. Paired with the classic white sole, premium leather, eyelets, a tying lacing system, and mocassin construction, top-siders were both functional and fashionable.
Word spread quickly of these shoes’ amazing properties to keep sailors from slipping on deck. The Cruising Club of America members all requested pairs of his boat shoes, and the U.S. War Department even named Sperry Top-Siders as one of the official shoes of the U.S. Navy.
Modern Sperrys Remain True to Their Storied Heritage
What continues to make Sperry shoes so successful are the tentacle-like wave grips cut into the flexible rubber soles paired with high quality leather materials. Original shoes only featured white soles and waterproof uppers, but today’s consumer can find a wide variety of colors, canvas materials, conventional laces, and other modern touches.
Not confined for just deck use only, Sperrys can be just as comfortable as a casual shoe as it is when put to work in inclement weather or on an all-hands-on-deck situation. Beyond the iconic top-sider boat shoes, Sperry lovers can enjoy other shoe styles for men, women, and kids that remain true to their brand’s storied heritage:
- Duck boots
- Chukka Boots
- Rain Boots
- Winter Boots