Still Preoccupied With 1985

On Saturday we took a look at a Sperry ad from 1985, and now here we are a couple days later and still preoccupied with Sperry — and 1985. Don’t get what I’m referring to? Here you go.

Upon seeing Saturday’s post, contributor BC sent in this shot of him in ’85 wearing a Sperry shoe called the Kudu. The handsome fella — who could easily have been cast as an ’80s preppy jerk (might the B stand for Biff?) — is also wearing a short-sleeved OCBD. Which is almost as controversial as the Porsche. Actually, based on a previous boss of mine, a Porsche — possibly company-lent — seems to have been pretty standard for trad guys of his generation who worked in finance.

Wrote BC in his email:

Do you remember the Sperry model called the Kudu? They were my go-to shoe for many years during the late ’70s and ’80s. The uppers were made of high-quality oiled leather, which had a pleasant scent to it, and the glued-on soles were sort of a spongy material which gripped decks, whether fiberglass or teak. And they dried reasonably quickly when doused by spray, and didn’t develop a foul smell like the Sperrys of today tend to do after getting wet.

And sure enough the car had something to do with a finance boss. BC added:

I’d procured my boss’ 1984 911 Cabriolet for a run to the beach for the weekend, which is good for another story unto itself. With me is my sister looking very ’80s with her Townson State gym shorts and hairdo.

I was unable to find a shot of the shoes, and BC said he did not see anything similar currently on the Sperry website. If anyone can help find a photo (or can take one), I’ll add it. — CC

35 Comments on "Still Preoccupied With 1985"

  1. I can sympathize with the lyrics….

    In the summer of ’85 I was 15 and in between junior high and high school, a crucial transition. As in the awkward years were behind me, and things were about to get much more interesting. First love was only a few months away.

    The perfect movie came out that combined childhood wonder with anticipation of high school and the progression of adolescence. It was “Back To The Future.” My friend said you’ve got to see this movie, but we couldn’t get a ride. We took our bikes all the way across town for a late show, and I still remember coming out of that movie just buzzing with exhileration for life. It gave us a jolt of adventure and for a while we biked in the opposite direction into the night and unexplored parts of town before making a U-turn and beginning the long trek home.

  2. BTW, BC’s correspondence refers to it as the Kudu and the Kudos. I couldn’t find either. I’m sure he or someone else will clarify soon.

  3. Jesse Livermore | August 5, 2019 at 8:45 pm |

    I believe Kudo is the name of the leather. Cowhide tanned similarly to regular chromexcel, then waxed. It’s a tough leather that doesn’t need a lot of treatment except for brushing, wiping down, and the occasional conditioner

  4. Jesse Livermore | August 5, 2019 at 8:51 pm |

    From the Alden Shoe Co. web page;

    There is a common misconception that Alden Kudu shoes are made from the animal of the same name. A kudu is a sort of African Antelope, and there are shoes made from actual kudu antelope leather. However, Alden’s Kudu shoes and boots are made from cows. It is cowhide leather that Horween tans with their Kudu Chromexcel formula.
    Alden Kudu shoes and boots are made with Horween Leather’s Kudu Chromexcel tannage. Confusing enough? Here’s what you need to know:
    “Alden Kudu” refers to the Kudu variety of Horween’s Chromexcel leather. It has a duller appearance and a more pronounced grain character than the traditional Horween Chromexcel.
    Horween’s Kudu Chromexcel is a hand-curried leather, which means it has been oiled by hand. This results in a very high oil content, so it needs very little regular maintenance.


    This shoe features kudu leather which is an oil tanned full grained leather which is very water resistant.

  6. Great picture, looks like he stepped out of an LL Bean catalog or TOPH.

  7. Great picture. I would turn 17 at the end of the summer of 1985. What a great time to be alive!!

  8. Towson State, not Townson State (typo, surely), now Towson University, in north Baltimore. Had a classic men’s college shop (now gone, of course) just off campus back in the ’80s. Now a major power in men’s lax. BC, do you remember the name of that shop?

  9. Ahhh, the 80s. Musically, 1981, ’83, and ’84 were (and remain) much more interesting. Philadelphia FM AOR (album oriented rock) radio was amazing back then before things became so nailed down and pigeonholed.

    Best Regards,


  10. Old School Tie | August 6, 2019 at 9:43 am |

    The good old days!

  11. Trace,

    Thanks for catching the typo. I don’t recall the men’s shop. Visits to Towson back then mostly involved The Crease.

    Cheers, BC

  12. Great picture. I remember the Summer of ’85 very well. I had just graduated from law school and was studying for the bar exam. After that ordeal was over, I spent some time partying on Martha’s Vineyard and the Jersey shore, then started my first real job. I dressed pretty much like the young fellow in the photo; still do.

  13. Charlottesville | August 6, 2019 at 10:33 am |

    Great picture. BC’s look is exactly how I recall the mid 80s, although probably with rolled-up long sleeves and cuffs on the khakis in my case (and he’s better looking). I had forgotten the women’s hair styles, though; post-Farrah-Fawcett, but close. Better at least than the frozen bouffants worn by the fair sex during the waning heyday years of the 60s, I suppose. Well, everything can’t be perfect, but it was a great time for Ivy style.

  14. I love this photo. A nice high rise on the chinos and an impressive collar roll on the BD, and the young lady looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Trace, I think the store you might be thinking about was Finkelsteins. The store was north of Towson’s campus.

  16. I turned 30 at the end of 1980. Lived in SoCal again (had grown up there but moved up north) and had a sailboat (28′ Newport) in Marina del Rey. That guy’s outfit was similar to the way I dressed but all of my short sleeve shirts were polos and it was regular Top-Siders for me. I did suffer from a bit of Magnum P.I. with the aloha shirts but I counterbalanced them with broad stripe rugby shirts. It was a good decade with a very full head of hair. ;o)

  17. 1985-polo shirts, rolled up oxfords, flood level Duck Heads, Magnum PI short shorts, Sperry Topsiders leather and canvas, thick hair helmet, baby oil aided sun tan, 1976 Mercedes 240D in burgundy, beach parties, red Solo cups, hot girlfriend with similar hair as the young lady in the picture (adorable), Dunhill Superior Milds, Simple Minds and Thompson Twins on the radio, I’m nineteen years old and my life is before me.



  18. whiskeydent | August 6, 2019 at 1:09 pm |

    Speaking of the Magnum look, I still have two Reyn Spponer aloha shirts I bought that year. One is a bit psychodelic, with large, floating crabs, shrimp and fish with splashes of bright colors. Not surprisingly, the other has pictures and names of famous polynesian cocktails.

    In Austin back then, you wore those shirts with faded jeans and cowboy boots. I called it the Port Aransas dope dealer look. You’d know what I mean if you’ve spent some time in the raffish Port A bars.

  19. whiskeydent | August 6, 2019 at 1:10 pm |

    Spooner, I meant.

  20. Great Lakes Trad | August 6, 2019 at 1:10 pm |

    My first pair of Sperry’s was the Kudu which I acquired sometime in 1977. I preferred the darker oiled leather look with the thicker closed cell non-slip sole. The leather was thicker than the Topsider’s and they actually took a while to properly break-in. I recall seeing several students at Michigan State wearing the chukka style of the Kudu. Same leather and sole. The Kudu’s were my all season go-to boat shoe in my closet. They fit and looked great with some off white or beige Wigwam wool crews. Most of my peers at East Lansing High (girls and boys) were shod with the ubiquitous brown Topsider’s…de-rigueur with red tag Levis and Lacoste Classic Polo’s or in my case Gant Oxford button-downs. Some of the Lacoste’s were even in pink & Kelly green, well before the Preppy Handbook renaissance of the 80’s! No Polo ponies were to be found back then. I had my old Kudu’s resoled several times and the uppers held firm after years of abuse. Unfortunately all of the Kudu’s which I owned fell victim to my switching to Sebago, Weejuns and Timberlands for my casual library. I wish Sperry (read: Wolverine World Wide, Inc.) would bring back the original Kudu, even for a limited run but not as part of the Gold Cup line. Not that I don’t currently own some of the Gold Cup Sperry’s, which are very good looking & comfortable, but in my mind the original Kudu is the quiet classic that deserves a re-introduction unchanged, to the modern Prep world.

  21. BC, Tony
    It wasn’t Finkelstein’s. It may have been called The Oxford Shop. I’ve been trying to find a reference to it online but no luck so far. It was a standalone building on York Rd., near the NE corner of the campus. Ah, yes, the Crease–a classic college bar now gone. I believe Souris’ bar, around the corner, is still going strong, however.

  22. The only thing I see that might be “controversial” about the Porsche is that it’s… brown.

  23. The mens shop was The Oxford Shop owned and operated by the Brandau family.

  24. James Kraus,

    It doesn’t come across well in the scan of the original photo, but the car’s paint color was a maroon/burgundy; with a black top and saddle tan interior. I hope that’s somewhat less controversial than brown. 😉

    Cheers, BC

  25. That’s it! Thanks, tdac.

  26. Great Lakes Trad | August 6, 2019 at 4:18 pm |

    BTW Nice pic! In my book any Porsche, regardless of color, is fine by me.

  27. Well, I have to add, speaking of Magnum and my earlier short career as a deputy sheriff in SF, I also took to the military uniform khaki shirts with epaulets that Magnum often wore along with the off-white Top-Siders (Sperry had a name for that color once) that he was often seen with when wearing his shorty shorts (NTTAWWT). And, I often wear my Pepsi bezel GMT II to this day. Selleck had a fair influence on me in those days.

  28. Miles Coverdale | August 6, 2019 at 10:18 pm |

    There’s nothing wrong with the car–unless it has a Sportomatic.

  29. whiskeydent | August 7, 2019 at 8:57 am |

    Magnum and Indiana Jones wore safari shirts extremely well. Hell, even Higgins did okay in them. The Orvis version is a regular in my non-summer rotation.

  30. I wore those Topsiders as well.

  31. MacMcConnell | August 7, 2019 at 11:56 am |

    The Sperry Kudu was what we in KC referred to as the “saltwater” Sperry. It was so oily that your feet would sweat without socks. It had the “walking shoe” sole. they were water proof. Great shoes.
    Another popular similar Sperry was the white/cream suede with the “walking” sole. Sperry also did a hard finish medium brown/tan version.

    A friend in the clothing business sent me a pair of the white/cream suede about five years ago. The shoe is the same, but with a hog toe piece on the front. Not as clean look as the originals.

  32. The gal in the photo is a dead ringer for Rusty Grizwald (Chevy Chase’s son) in “European Vacation”

  33. LAWRENCE WELK | October 12, 2020 at 5:38 pm |

    I neverknew about topsiders until I dated a girl whose folks lived in Rumson NJ. 1st time I went there I saw big buck mansions and figured the girl had rich folks
    Their home was smaller than what I was raised in. Her Dad managed the liquor an A&P. Her mom was a private duty nurse who cared for a man named Hallsey…like the WWII Admiral.
    a neighbor came over to play cards. it was spring and this guy got a new pair of the brown traditional every spring.My girlfriend said you had to walk in puddles and walk a mile when they were new to get the fit.
    I got a pair and we got more as Sperry had a factory outlet store in Norwalk, Ct. or near there.
    I went on a Eurorail backpack trip and got a pair of Kudos..thicker sole and tougher leather. i recall getting a small cut in the toe jumping on rocks on Corfu in Greece… Never got worse or effected them.
    I currently have three pairs…I cycle a new pair in each year…so i have a Sunday pair, a knockaround pair, and a garden mud pair.
    i often wonder if i ruin my feet…so little support.. well after 41 years im still walking.
    Seems like when I research now I hear about lesser quality and foreign makers

  34. Samantha Stevens | October 22, 2021 at 8:29 pm |

    Oh my word, I’m giddy reading these! You all are amazing! What a great photo! I am writing a book about what happened to me and my friends in 1985 and was trying to remember the look of the Sperry shoe my boyfriend wore in ’85 – and wow was I treated to a blast from the past! In response to the post by Chris – just got back from Cali, Tony P’s – sat there looking out at marina in Marina Del Rey! All shades of awesome in this post… my heart is happy!

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