Get Ready for an Exclusive Release: Sperry and Brooks Brothers to Launch $1,000 Boat Shoe
In a 17-piece footwear collection produced by two American icons, the two American icons have created a shell cordovan version of the Authentic Original, which is the focal point of the collection.
As a part of the Official Preppy Handbook set, only Sperry and Brooks Brothers have a greater cachet than them. While the two labels have frequently combined their products, with a blue blazer, chinos, and boat shoes outfit becoming a de facto American uniform, they have never before collaborated on a piece.
A limited-edition footwear collection inspired by weekends on Nantucket will debut on the websites of both retailers on Wednesday, March 15. With candy-striped slip-on sneakers, madras sandals and spectator-style boat shoes with a kiltie fringe, Brooks Brothers creative director Michael Bastian expresses his passion for prep with 17 styles.
There is no doubt that the star of the show is undoubtedly an Authentic Original boat shoe made of shell cordovan that was made in Maine by Rancourt & Company. The shoe will retail for a cool $1,000 and will represent the rise of a luxury style that has existed for 88 years.
Apparently the preppy alliance was already in the works as soon as the designer joined Brooks Brothers in December 2020, according to Rich Report.
Before joining Brooks Brothers, Bastian designed collections for fellow prep icon Gant for nine seasons. “I’ve been wearing Sperry for as long as I can remember— it was always part of the ‘getting ready for summer’ tool kit. A new bathing suit, a couple tee shirts and shorts, a windbreaker and a fresh pair of Sperry Top-siders,” the designer reveals.
Sperry president Katherine Cousins commented on the partnership when asked if feelings of admiration are mutual, “It’s the marriage of two American icons: the creator of the iconic boat shoe meets the country’s oldest apparel brand. With this collaboration, we celebrate our heritage, while showcasing Sperry through a modern lens.”
There are a wide range of shoes in the collection, from sandals to sneakers, however it seems inevitable that a four-figure boat shoe would be the most popular. While the cordovan iteration is a far cry from the utilitarian design Paul Sperry came up with in 1935 as a way of keeping his boat deck from slipping, Bastian explains that is precisely why it is so appealing.
“Their classic boat shoe in shell Cordovan is taking something everyone knows and loves and pushing it to its furthest, most luxe expression. It really is the boat shoe you could have your whole life if you take care of them properly,” he explains. “Cordovan is a commitment.”
The decision was made to partner with Rancourt, a family-owned shoemaker based in Lewiston, Maine, due to the company's familiarity with the notoriously difficult to source and difficult to work with hide of horses, which is an extremely difficult material to work with.
“Very few factories can work with real shell Cordovan—it’s very thick and very expensive, and there’s actually not a lot of it out there—and Rancourt is one of the best,” Bastian adds. “We also love that they will be American-made.”
To the question of what such a luxe boat shoe might be worn with, Bastian responds, “Literally anything. “Someone is going to wear it with a bathing suit, and someone with their tuxedo for a wedding this summer and I approve of both.”
In spite of the high price tag attached to the collection's most premium offering, Bastian sees the team-up as the latest advancement in a dress renaissance that aims to bring the well-worn aesthetic to a new set of consumers.
“’Preppy’ in 2023 is great because all of the old pretense and exclusivity and class distinctions have been scraped off—now it’s for everybody,” he explains. “It’s really more about tradition, and optimism and your own personal style.”
Should your own personal style align with a shell cordovan boat shoe, it would appear that you were born at just the right time.