Written by: Nicole Roller
“Sperry can’t be beat. Better than other flats for summer yachting – in the club, on the docks, in the boat.”
—Orvis Customer, JLHam
When most people think of Sperry shoes, they probably think of summer. But would you believe that it was actually winter that inspired the soles that make Sperry shoes what they are today?
Paul Sperry—who was a seaman in the Navy during World War I and an avid sailor all his life—knew as well as anyone that for most ocean-goers, bad traction was enemy number one. For years, he tried to find or make a pair of shoes that would help him stay on his feet on-board, without success. Then one winter day in 1935, he watched his dog run with ease across a sheet of ice, and wondered how it was possible that his dog didn’t slip. Inspiration struck, and before long, Paul Sperry had picked up a shoe and begun cutting grooves into the rubber sole, mimicking the texture of his dog’s paws.
The extra edges in the sole instantly gave the shoes better traction, preventing slipping, and offering the additional bite that he was looking for. And so, in the freezing cold, one of the ultimate summer shoes was born. The next time you put on a pair of your Sperry shoes for women, think of that ice—and then stop. It’s still mid-summer, for Pete’s sake.