On Land & Sea: A History of the Boat Shoe

Boat shoes have come a long way from their start as a solution to slippery decks. Today, they’re a preppy staple topping trend lists everywhere. But how did they make the leap from boat decks to city streets? Scroll down and find out.

Sperry Top-Sider Timeline

1923
Siping – a process of cutting into soles – is introduced, finally giving sailors shoes that provide a firm grip on slick decks.

1935
Inspired by his cocker spaniel’s ability to run on ice, Paul Sperry uses siping to create rubber soles with grooves that match that of his dog’s slip-resistant paws. His designs go on to become the modern Sperry Top-Sider.

1960s
America falls for the Kennedy family and sets out to emulate its New England style, including (you guessed it) a love of boat shoes.

1980
The Official Preppy Handbook names Top-Sider the quintessential shoe for prepsters everywhere, with corkscrew laces as its signature finishing touch.

Today
Gaining more traction than ever, boat shoes top trend lists and usher in the sockless summer movement.

Our Sperry Top-Sider Boutique opens Friday, January 10, at 11AM ET.

By Emily Ketterer, Staff Writer

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January 10, 2014