Evolving an 87-Year-Old Footwear Brand Associated With Boating – WWD

For Sperry, it’s been 87 years of offering for yachtsman, deckhands and people who similar to the informal seafarer look.

Now it’s about updating the picture from preppy to fashionable preppy and broadening the viewers.

“Sperry is a brand with a great heritage and feel, but we are making a lot of progress evolving the brand to be more inclusive and to offer more modern styles. We are evolving our visual identity. We’ve introduced a new logo, and updated the website, and have a fresh creative direction,” Katherine Cousins, international model president of Sperry, advised WWD.

Sperry was based in 1935 by Paul Sperry, who created the primary non-slip boat shoe. He observed his canine was not slipping on his boat, and developed a wave siping primarily based on the physiology of his canine’s paws, that supplied some gripping traits.

“We are respecting and celebrating the heritage and at the same time becoming more fashion forward and modern. We have a lot of opportunity for some great storytelling to engage with the brand,” mentioned Cousins.

She joined Sperry 10 months in the past after serving as vp and normal supervisor for a number of outside life-style and work security manufacturers at VF Corp. Earlier than that, she labored at Timberland, main international technique, client analysis, licensing and equipment and earlier headed up the model’s investor relations and enterprise growth.

Evolving an 87-Year-Old Footwear Brand Associated

Katherine Cousins

Whereas Sperry primarily captures prospects within the 25-to-50-year-old vary, “We are definitely aiming for a younger customer,” Cousins mentioned, notably these within the 18-to-34-year-old vary, by dialing up collaborations with manufacturers and designers, sustainability efforts and involvement in social and environmental causes.

There’s a brand new purpose-driven model platform, “All for Water, Water for All,” conveying efforts at being extra environmentally aware, inclusive and community-oriented. Sperry additionally launched its first consumer-facing model marketing campaign since 2018, known as “Make Waves.” It was launched on the finish of final February.

Sperry’s objective is that by 2024, 50 p.c of the footwear fashions produced will probably be a part of its SeaCycled Assortment with sustainable supplies in lots of types throughout all classes — boots, sneakers, boat footwear, loafers and sandals.

Sperry, primarily based in Waltham, Mass., will probably be concerned in seaside cleanups and different clear water initiatives this yr by way of a partnership with Waterkeeper Alliance, a big nonprofit. Sperry has additionally partnered with PFLAG, a nationwide group supporting the LGBTQ group, and Claima, a podcast supporting entrepreneurs of coloration.

Together with the core and iconic Topsider model, Sperry is issuing new fashions, collaborating with what Cousins describes as “cool” manufacturers resembling Pleasures, the Los Angeles-based skateboarding model, and Rowing Blazers, an attire and equipment label.

Among the many upcoming collaborations in 2022:

  • Herschel, with drops in Could and vacation incorporating design components impressed by Herschel luggage into Sperry boat footwear and chukkas.
  • Heat and Great, with sneakers in a sheep print in 4 colorways launching this summer time. The British knitwear model’s sheep sweater was worn by Princess Diana.
  • Who What Put on, with two limited-edition types launching within the fall.

Final week, three inventory preserving items with Sunspel, the British label for luxurious necessities, have been launched.

Evolving an 87-Year-Old Footwear Brand Associated

The Sperry “Plushwave” shoe.

Cousins mentioned she sees a giant alternative to develop sandals, at the moment a comparatively small piece of the enterprise. The “EVA Float” slide sandal was launched on the finish of final February. It’s light-weight, constructed by way of a brand new foam course of for a powerful exterior pores and skin whereas preserving the inside mushy and comfy, and offers higher protection and help than the usual sport slide. The outsole combines a modified model of Paul Sperry’s unique 1935 adaptive wave siping blended with snow tire-like building to push water away from the foot, rising traction in moist circumstances.

In September 2021, Sperry launched a collaboration with Rebecca Minkoff, mixing the designer’s downtown New York Metropolis aesthetic with Sperry’s basic types with a studded black platform boat shoe, and a high-top sneaker in a alternative of two animal prints which coordinated with Minkoff’s assortment. There will probably be a second drop this spring that includes the studded platform boat shoe in white and high-top sneakers in three colorways.

Sperry footwear are included in Rowing Blazers’ seasonal campaigns, and Rowing Blazers’ clothes is usually seen in Sperry photograph shoots. Sperry’s Cloud assortment footwear are bought on

John Legend was Sperry’s international model ambassador in 2020 and in September 2021 Legend collaborated on three types ⁠— a contemporary interpretation of the Sperry basic boat shoe; an off-the-cuff suede boot and a tall leather-based boot.

And Sperry continues to be the sponsor of New York Males’s Day, the biannual menswear occasion.

Officers at Sperry, a division of Wolverine Worldwide, declined to reveal the model’s quantity, however mentioned revenues rose 25 p.c final yr. Wolverine acquired Sperry by way of its 2012 buy of the PLG group from Collective Brands Inc., which additionally added Saucony, Stride Ceremony and Keds to the portfolio.

“There is tremendous momentum in the boat market. We own 70 percent of the boat market. We are getting more consumers to wear boat shoes. It’s been great trying to evolve Sperry to reflect modern sensibilities and recruit new consumers. With boots, boat shoes and sneakers, across those three categories, we have a lot of room to work with.”

Requested if Sperry may transcend footwear into providing sportswear, Cousins replied, “We don’t have concrete plans but we are talking about it. There’s just a lot of runway with footwear.”

Evolving an 87-Year-Old Footwear Brand Associated

Sperry’s “WaterStrider” slip-on.
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