Sean McDowell arrived at Sperry in summer 2020 after a 22-year-long career at Nike. The pandemic was already raging, and more people than ever were looking for safe outdoor activities. “That seemed like a really great consumer insight for us to dive into,” McDowell says. “We’re an 85-year-old brand, and we started with performance products on the water. I thought we should get back to Paul Sperry’s original vision and create products that can really enhance the boating experience.”
The new Sperry Sport line—with styles ranging from $59 to $119, for all kinds of boating, fishing, boarding and other water-based fun—is the result.
“The top of the food chain is the Wave Rocker,” he says. “We wanted something that was as bold as the consumers. They’re spending a lot of money on their boats—we wanted to make the best of the best that’s inspired by powerboats.”
The Wave Rocker has an internal bootee that fits like a sock; a thermoplastic urethane cage, which protects toes from collisions with cleats; and an outsole made of Sperry’s “stickiest gum rubber” for better traction.
The US Sailing team gave design input for the Sea Hiker dinghy boot. “Most competitors are wearing big, thick rubber boots that are like sweatboxes,” McDowell says. “This is light and breathable and comfy.”
Sperry Sport footwear also has a stripe on the outside, as an homage to the one found on US Coast Guard vessels.
“If you are in trouble and you see that boat coming, you know you have help,” McDowell says. “We want to give people that same feeling of confidence and professionalism. These are serious products for serious fun.”