Past & Present: Sperry Top-Sider Through the Decades

From the military to Manhattan, the history of an American icon

They are the emblem of all things preppy – but were they always? Take a peek into the history of this iconic American brand.

1930s: Paul Sperry invented the first boat shoe after using a knife to cut treads into the outsole of a sneaker. He was inspired by his dog Prince’s ability to effortlessly trek over ice.

1940s: The U.S. Navy began manufacturing the Top-Sider for its sailors. Due to the rationing of leather shoes during WWII, the design increased in popularity nationwide.

1980s: Top-Sider was mentioned in the tongue-in-cheek style guide, The Official Preppy Handbook (yep, it was a thing), and subsequently featured in many a John Hughes film.

2000s: After a decade out of the limelight (preppy just wasn’t cool in the 90s), Top-Siders appeared on Fashion Week runways, spurring a new generation of Sperry lovers.

Today: The nautical brand is a made-for-everyday staple. They launched their first stand-alone store in 2012 on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue.

Our Sperry Top-Sider Women and Sperry Top-Sider Men Boutiques open Wednesday, March 27, at 11AM ET.

By Julia Ivins, Staff Writer

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March 27, 2013