Trav: Take a look at current trends and you will notice (if you haven’t already), the reoccurrence of the popularity of the boat shoe. With all these brands and collaborations turning out boat shoes for this spring and summer, i found it befitting to compare the two most popular boat shoe staples; Sebago and Sperry Top-Sider. I, for one, am a fan of both. They both embody class, comfort and a great sense of cleanliness and simplicity. Its amusing to see all these brands releasing boat shoes in rapid succession as the season changes.
Sperry Topsider, founded by Paul Sperry in 1935, has 11 years over the Sebago-Moc Company founded by Daniel J. Wellehan, Sr., William Beaudoin and Joseph Cordeau in 1946. The famous Sebago Docsides werent introduced until the 60s. Topsiders have been said to revolutionize the Boat/Deck shoe. It all started when Paul Sperry, an avid boater was in need of better traction when on his schooner. He noticed that his dog had an excellent ability to keep its balance on slick, wet surfaces. He then examined his dog’s paws and found wavy patterns. He used the blueprint of his dogs paws as a reference in creating the soles of the first Sperry Topsiders.
The Sebago Moc company first started with Dan Wellehan, Sr., the owner of 5 independent shoe stores across Maine. After World War II consumer demand was at a rise and Wellehan found it difficult to keep his stores stocked. He came up with the idea to start his own shoe manufacturing company. The Sebago first boat shoe was a leather boat shoe sold to Uniroyal in 1948. It wasn’t until 1969 when the company developed their own branded boat shoe, the famous Docksides. There is a very interesting time line/magazine showing the history and legacy of Sebago. . click here to view full timeline
When it comes to comfort, both shoes are extremely comfortable. Personally, i think Sebago has one up on this. Many people may not agree, but for me, Docksides give a better fit in terms of comfortability. Its a close one, and am definitely not undermining the fit of Topsiders, they also offer superb comfort.
Touching on affordability, Topsiders are priced on average slightly lower than Docksides. The price difference is not really not that significant, but with a recession at hand, 20 extra saved dollars is more than worth it for many people.
When it comes to quality, i would guess that they are on the same level. I will however be bias and go with Sebago due to one really minor bad experience with Topsiders in the past.
From what I’ve seen, Docksides seem to have a larger selection currently on the market when compared to the Topsiders original boat shoe. There are tons of different, interesting colorways available for purchase.
When it comes to recent collaborations, both have a few. It just so happens that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Docksides. Sebago has teamed up with Collete, Vane and La Mjc to celebrate this momentous occasion. Some real dope stuff have been turned out on Sebago’s behalf (see pics below). However, Band of Outsiders and J.Crew have both recently collaborated with Sperry. I am always amazed at what Band Of Outsiders come up with, they are truly taking the game by storm and pushing the creativity of the Sperry brand. I actually bought the deck boot from the Spring 2008 collection and it is one of my favorite pieces . With that being said, when it comes to collaborations, Sperry has it.
When it all boils down to it, its hard to compare the two. Both brands are very respected with an extraordinary amount of history backing them. Its like comparing Prince and Micheal Jackson or BMW and Mercedes. Okay, maybe I’m pushing it, but you know what i mean. It really all comes down to personal preference.