The boat shoe occupies a special place in the pantheon of classic clothing. Pioneered in 1935 by Paul Sperry, it boasts a non-slip sole that allows the wearer to safely traverse salt water soaked boat decks.
Noticing his dog’s ability to run across the ice without slipping, Sperry set out to replicate the herringbone like grooves he found on the dog’s paws. He cut similar patterns into the bottom of his rubber soled shoes. The Topsider was born.
Now, of course, most of Sperry’s wares are produced overseas, and in less than savory locations. Obtaining a true American boat shoe means knocking on the figurative door of such companies as Rancourt, Oak Street Bootmakers and Quoddy.
Kiel James Patrick has recently thrown its hat into the ring of domestic boat shoe production. Most of us know Kiel James Patrick as the resolutely preppy maker of nautically-themed jewelry, although the company has broadened its product line of late to include oxford shirts, hats and belts.
Its boat shoes are made in Coastal Maine and they come in a variety of colors. Frannie’s–one of her Christmas gifts this year–are the Old Harbor Dock Brown. The nautical rope laces are an especially nice touch.
For an American made boat shoe, these are very reasonably priced. They retail for $165, although we got Frannie’s on sale for $119. Frankly, they’re much better than they have a right to be at that price point; I wouldn’t have been at all surprised for such a shoe to be at least $100 more.