Sebago: The Docksides classic has weathered the test of time

John Travolta, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, and Kate Middleton all wear Sebagos. One brand, one style, worn by various age groups.

Classics span through decades, they appear flattering on almost anyone, and go beyond trends; they are a triumph of art. No matter what decade, figure, or fashion, classics are a demonstration of a refined taste—Sebago Docksides are classics.

In 1946, the Sebago-Moc Footwear Company was founded by Dan Wellehan, Sr., who first produced penny loafers in his hand-sewing facility in Maine.  His company was named after Sebago Lake, which in the Indian Abenaki language means “big stretch of water”.

Popular in the 40s, most boat shoes were made of canvass. It was Sebago that later developed a leather version, calling it the Docksides.  Compared to the canvass boat shoe that would deform and discolor when wet, Sebago’s Docksides were a significant improvement due to its water-resistant leather and fine craftsmanship. Since then, the Docksides have become the iconic and premium boat shoes.

A preppy staple in the 80s, they have made a triumphant return in 2008. Eric Poon of Vane, an upscale New York fashion collective that features high quality and art infused fare, recalls that kids in New York started breaking out with fashion pieces their grandparents would wear; in particular the boat shoe. This, along with the emergence of nautical fashion, ushered Docksides and Sebago back into the limelight.

While the Docksides style has not changed since its inception in 1946, its colors have. Years ago, Sebago Docksides were mostly in browns, white and navy. The spiced up spectrum was initiated by styles in Europe, in particular France, where retailers requested for more colors to complement the latest European summer fashion. This then proliferated to other markets, giving birth to, literally, a rainbow of Docksides to choose from.

With Joe Wallace and in-house designer David Dezur at the helm of product development, Sebago has also collaborated with several artists, namely Ronnie Fieg, a prominent New York footwear trendsetter known to have collaborated with brands including Adidas and New Balance; Filson, America’s outdoor clothing company boasting over 100 years of rugged high grade materials and flawless workmanship since 1897; Stash, a prolific graffiti artist from Long Island who successfully infiltrated and innovated upon the New York urban fashion scene, and Vane.

Nonetheless, Sebago’s pride and integrity still stem from its handcraftsmanship, premium materials and its strong link with heritage.

For sixty-five years Sebago’s, authenticity has been perched upon a culture where hand stitching actually means something, and where cobblers still make shoes by hand, not only out of tradition, but also out of a desire to maintain a level of craftsmanship.

In an industry where mass production has compromised quality, Sebago continues to stay true to its colors and craft, something that only few brands can attest to.

Whether on the streets of New York, on a dock, on school grounds, worn by fathers, grandfathers or women, Sebago Docksides have surpassed generations and have lived through all kinds of fashion trends—proof that a classic never dies.


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