Fans of preppy fashion, take note: two of the originators of the look are teaming up.
Brooks Brothers, the 204-year-old retailer, has tapped Sperry, the creator of the boat shoe, for a limited-edition collection of shoes that will launch on Wednesday.
The 17-style collection is based on Brooks’ spring collection designed by Michael Bastian and is intended to celebrate the longevity, tradition and history of preppy fashion. It will be sold on the Brooks Brothers and Sperry websites and in select Brooks Brothers stores.
“Sperry and Brooks Brothers share a heritage of quality and craftsmanship along with deep roots in American style,” said Elizabeth Drori, chief marketing officer of Sperry. “Working with Michael Bastian and his team was an incredible opportunity to reinterpret that foundation for today by creating a unique assortment inspired by relaxed seaside resorts.”
The collection introduces several new styles including dressy kilties and slip-on tennis shoes along with a colorful variety of boat shoes that complement Brooks Brothers’ spring collection inspired by ’80s Los Angeles.
Bastian, the creative director of Brooks Brothers who said he’s been wearing Sperry since he was 10 years old, believes collaborations are most effective “when the two brands share some fundamental values. I can’t think of a better partner for Brooks Brothers to collaborate with than Sperry — another iconic classic American brand. I would safely guess we’re both in a lot of the same closets around the world and this gives those customers a new spin on two brands they already love. We shared all of our colors and patterns with them and selected together the ones that work best on a shoe.”
Bastian said he worked closely with the Sperry design team on the collection, with some of the models inspired by vintage pieces in his personal closet, including a thicker-soled suede lace-up in bright colors that was an update of a shoe he wore in the ’90s.
While the retail prices for the capsule start at $78, they top out at $1,000 for a Cordovan boat shoe handcrafted in Maine by artisans at Rancourt.
Bastian said that shoe represents “the pinnacle” of the project — “take their most famous shoe and reinterpret it in genuine shell cordovan, a rare dress shoe hide that’s been associated with Brooks Brothers since the 1950s. It’s the boat shoe that should last you your whole life if you take care of it. Due to the scarcity of shell cordovan, fewer than 100 pairs have been made but if those sell out I’d like to see it offered by special order.”
Drori said that while there is a lot of customer overlap with the two heritage brands, the partnership exposes Sperry to a new consumer base.
The product will be showcased on both brands’ social media channels, in digital ads and in Brooks Brothers’ store windows, she said. “Tastemakers” will also be gifted the product.
She said the breadth of the collaboration represents “a big bang” for the two brands and she hopes the partnership continues in the future. “This is meant to live longer than a limited nature.”
Bastian, too, is eager to continue the association. “For me personally, I’d love to continue this relationship in some form — I really feel like I’ve made some genuine friendships with their team.”
Brooks Brothers has always sold both casual and dress shoes, many of which it produced in-house or contracted with others to manufacture. It has also collaborated with Fila, Keds and Allen Edmonds, among others.
Sperry also has embraced collaborations, working most recently with Pleasures, a Los Angeles-based streetwear brand, to reimagine some of its classic styles. The collaboration has “done really well,” Drori said. “Collaborations are a great way to get the brand into a new light. They’ve been very successful for us.”
The brand has also partnered with Rowing Blazers and Herschel and will be teaming with Malbon Golf this spring.
Sperry was founded in 1935 by sailor, inventor and explorer Paul Sperry, who is credited with inventing the boat shoe. It is a division of Wolverine World Wide.
Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 and is now owned by SPARC, a joint venture between Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group.