Back to all articles

Sperry Top-Siders

Paul A. Sperry got the idea for these now-iconic shoes while watching his dog, Prince, play on ice. Sperry realized that Prince wasn’t slipping and set out to make a shoe that would achieve the same effect. He created a non-slip sole with a herringbone pattern based on Prince’s paw pads. Sperry launched his new non-slip shoes in 1935 and debuted the leather upper Top-Sider in 1937. Boaters appreciated the non-slip soles and the white material they were made from, because it meant that the shoes didn’t leave marks on a boat’s deck. In 1939, the U.S. Navy contracted Sperry to supply their sailors with Top-Siders, and after the war, the shoe went into national distribution. In the 1960s, it became staple footwear for achieving the East Coast preppy look (President John F. Kennedy helped to popularize them). Today, Sperry Top-Siders remain a classic shoe choice that perfectly complements preppy outfits.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.