Q&A with Sperry

We’re back with another brand spanking Q&A, and this time we’ve caught up with a footwear giant. We spoke to Elizabeth Drori, Chief Marketing Officer at Sperry to find out more about the boat shoe pioneers. Enjoy!

Hello, How are you today?


What’s your role within Sperry?

I am the Chief Marketing Officer for Sperry. I oversee global marketing for the brand, including creative, PR, social media, digital marketing and strategy.

You’ve been producing shoes for over 80 years now, why do you think your legacy is so well supported?

Sperry has an incredibly loyal fan base, with a strong emotional connection to the brand. Our shoes are known for their craftsmanship, and timeless style and Sperrys often get passed down from generation to generation. We have a very loyal consumer base in that way. We also have this amazing connection to water and boating that continues to drive our legacy.

Your boat shoes are iconic, how has the design changed over the years?

The boat shoe was incredibly innovative and performance-oriented when it was invented in 1935, and many of the key features of the Authentic Original boat shoe are still used today. For example, Paul Sperry invented a traction system that we call adaptive wave siping in 1935, and we still use that same concept today of cutting grooves into the soles of our shoes to keep them from slipping.

Sperry Authentic Original boat shoes are still made with hand-sewn moccasin construction, and feature rawhide laces which don’t untie when they get wet. 360 degree lacing for a great fit is another defining feature. Over time, we have added improvements to improve comfort. And of course our collection of boat shoes gets expanded and augmented each season. We’ve also done some amazing collabs over the years, including an ongoing one with Rowing Blazers, which offers fashion twists to the classic style.

You teamed up with High Snobiety for a recent lookbook, how did this come about?

Boat shoes are really trending right now and we wanted to create a lookbook to show multiple ways to wear them. We respect High Snobiety’s place as a leader for global trends and lifestyle, and partnered with them to show their readers how to style the shoe in a fashion forward way. Their take on styling the boat shoe is edgier than what we would have done on our own, which puts the boat shoe in a bit of a new light. And that creates a bit of magic and will hopefully catch the eye of new consumers.

How important is it that Sperry reaches new audiences?

Very! Sperry is a true heritage brand, and there’s a reason we have a strong, and loyal fan base. But, we want a new and younger audience to discover us and style our shoes into their everyday looks – and we also have so much opportunity in the UK and from a global perspective. Sperry is a classic but can be worn so many different ways. They look great with a wide range of looks and appeal to a people all over the world, with a range of personal styles.

You’ve worked on some major collaborations in the past – what are your plans for future ones in 2022 and beyond?

We have some really exciting collaborations coming up this year. We are partnering with the UK-based knitwear brand Warm and Wonderful – taking that Princess Diana-famous sheep sweater pattern and putting it on our CVO sneaker. We are dropping a new collaboration with Pleasures, an LA-based streetwear brand with a very cool aesthetic. We’re also partnering with Herschel & Rowing Blazers.

I love the ‘Born in the water in 1935’ message, how important is your heritage to the brand?

The Sperry brand was born when our founder Paul Sperry fell off his sailboat, and was determined to design a shoe that would prevent that from happening again. The brand became the official supplier of shoes to the US Navy, and was worn by style icons like JFK, and Paul Newman on their boats for decades. Our heritage creates an authenticity that you cannot buy or make up. It really sets us apart from others. Sperry invented the CVO sneaker. We invented the boat shoe. We were born on the water. And our roots as a water based brand and as innovators drive a lot of what we do.

What collection are you most proud of and why?

So hard to decide! We have been dabbling in EVA construction and have launched the Authentic Original Float boat shoe and recently a Float slide. These products are super versatile, comfortable, and colourful. They represent a new take on some of our icons and are a bit of a twist on what we are known for.

Describe Sperry in only 3 words…

Optimistic. Curious. Joyful.

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