What with the weather having gone off its rocker—blazing sunshine one minute, a deluge the next—we’ve been living in our blue Sebagos for weeks. Hey they’re boat shoes. If they can provide traction on the wind-lashed deck of a yacht, they can keep you from sliding on the rainswept streets of this city. We like walking (helps us write) and this particular pair has logged hundreds of kilometers at least; tempting to describe them as “worn-out”, but the blasted shoes will go on for the next few decades. If you’re looking for an excuse to buy a replacement pair, they will not help you; however, if like us you’ve been wearing essentially the same clothes since school (arrested development, but that’s another story), they’re a comfort.
Thankfully a reason to buy more Sebagos has come up: new colors! After two decades of post-preppy laying low, the classic boat shoes are back in fashion thanks to style-setters like Kate Middleton. “For years the fashionable people weren’t wearing Sebago Docksides, you only saw them on dads in their 40s,” said Sebago distributor Gifford Chu. (Gee thanks, Gifford.) “Then kids started raiding their parents’ closets and wearing them again. Now we have different generations coming into our stores.”
We attended the Sebago Docksides media launch this morning at their store in Greenbelt 3. Apart from viewing the displays of their latest colors, we took a short tour through Sebago history.
The Sebago-Moc Footwear Company was founded in Maine in 1946; it was named after a lake which in the Abenaki language means “big stretch of water”. (As to pronunciation we prefer ‘seBAHgo’.) Then as now, the shoes were handmade (these days in the Dominican Republic). Boat shoes used to be made of canvas; Sebago started using waterproof siliconized leather.
How are Sebagos different from other boat shoes? Look at the grommets, which never corrode. How do you clean them? According to the Official Preppy Handbook you don’t—just keep marinating them in seawater, and when they fall apart wind adhesive tape around them. We use a cleaner-conditioner we bought at Hush Puppies, which turns out to be a sister company of Sebago (Their global parent company is Wolverine, which makes us yearn for adamantium shoes). Sebago’s own eco-friendly Cleaner and Conditioner and Rain and Stain Repellant spray are now available at their 12 stores all over the country.
We got a second pair of Sebago Docksides, this time in lime-green. To match our glasses. (We also stood by the shelf dissuading people from choosing the lime-green shoes. “They’re not you, hindi bagay. Try the pink. Or the grey.”) We took our new shoes home and the cats cried, “Box!” Saffy wins because she’s the only one who can fit in it.