Our Story

Paul Sperry’s
Authentic
Original,

Invented in 1935.
Sperry Top-Sider Journey
EARLY YEARS
1895-1920's
Our founder, Paul Sperry, was born into a family with a long sea-faring tradition. Paul grew up listening to his great-grandfather speak of wild adventures in the South Seas. These tales set the stage for young Paul’s inventive spirit, passion for sailing and curiosity for adventure.
Sailors
Paul Sperry enters the US Navy During World War I as a seaman, first class
Paul Sperry purchases a Nova Scotia schooner named'Sirocco.'
  • Paul Sperry took a gum rubber sole and cut grooves in it, mimicking the pattern in his dog's paws
THE BIRTH OF
SPERRY

1935
The rough seas, a slippery deck and a struggle for sure footing almost cost Paul Sperry his life; and began his long and ambitious quest for a solution. One day in 1935, after watching his dog dart effortlessly across the ice on a cold Connecticut day, he was inspired to carved grooves – like those on his dog's paws – into the bottom of a rubber sole. In that moment of inspiration, the world's first boat shoe was born.
Dog
After a near death experience on a slippery deck, Paul Sperry thinks about non-skid soles and tries hundreds of experiments.
Ads WINNING SAILORS'
HEARTS & MINDS

1936-1940's
Every single member of the Cruising Club of America wrote to Mr. Sperry to request a pair of these remarkable new boat shoes. Nothing else kept sailors safe on deck.

During World War II, the US War Department named Sperry Top-Sider as one of the official shoes of the US Navy.
Sole
United States War Department specifies Sperry Top-Sider as an official shoe of the US Navy
Sticks Like a Barnacle
JFK
JFK
JFK
CLASSIC AMERICAN
STYLE

1960's-1970's
The Kennedy family is photographed while on vacation, triggering a love affair with the active nautical life and classic American style. Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes and sneakers become established as an integral element of this iconic look.
Flag
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back to whence we came. John Fitzgerald Kennedy
STYLE & SPORT
1980's-1990's
The Official Preppy Handbook endorses the Sperry Top-Sider Authentic Original as the footwear symbol of classic Prep style, marking a legacy of good taste.

Dennis Conner leads the America’s Cup Team that wins back the trophy for the United States in 1987. Sperry Top-Sider is the official shoe of the America’s Cup.
Flag
Sperry Top-Sider signs an endorsement with Dennis Conner, winning America's Cup Skipper

Discover Sperry’s History & Current Events

From the world's first boat shoe to today's contemporary styles that remain true to our heritage, Sperry exists for those drawn to the sun, surf and soul of the ocean. Learn more about Sperry and find the perfect fit for your style in our classic collections.