Battle Of The Boat Shoe General Style 22 Comments

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.boat-shoe-header-copy

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.




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  • dayinthelyf

        posted on April 9 , 2009 :

    this thread is very relevant. the same type of thing with deck boots…which look really dope btw. I might have to try one of these brands because i have rockport topsiders.

  • Pages tagged "shoe"

        posted on April 9 , 2009 :

    [...] bookmarks tagged shoe Battle Of The Boat Shoe | Street Etiquette saved by 5 others     NeilCicierega bookmarked on 04/09/09 | [...]

  • components of enthusiasm

        posted on April 9 , 2009 :

    hey great feature. i did something similar last month and i was also invited to the vane/sebago collaboration party. very cool guys from both vane and sebago, and the collaborations are fantastic.

  • Trav

        posted on April 9 , 2009 :

    Wow its pretty crazy that our post was so similar.. same title and all. i thought i was being
    dope blog by the way

  • Somatirius

        posted on April 10 , 2009 :

    Id go with sperry if i had to choose just way more collabs in their market than sebago.


        posted on April 11 , 2009 :

    Great post Trav,

    I have both boat shoes and they’re both really good. It really does come down to personal prefernece imo .. i would go with Sebago over Sperry just based on boat shoes. I love my sperry boots to death

  • Theo Martins

        posted on April 16 , 2009 :

    Really good post, I’ve been on this site for some time now – good stuff fellas.
    I’m definitely a big Sperry fan, i’ve actually never really gave into the Sebago lifestyle as I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Sperry’s comfort and classic style. I’ll try em out though.

    - Theo


        posted on April 16 , 2009 :

    Theo ,

    Thanks for the props we’re trying to keep this going with more big things coming my brother. I just clicked your link and realized I bumped one of your songs before on onsmash it was a dilla beat, dillagence.. what a small world .. good stuff my brother keep it coming,

  • Sara from NYmag

        posted on April 16 , 2009 :

    Really love this comparative guide of sperry vs sebago because me and my boyfriend were talking about this the other day. I love what you guys are doing here I just wish it could be more frequent updates! :) i check it everyday hoping for new material. None the less good job.

  • andrea

        posted on April 21 , 2009 :

    great post, although i must say boat shoes do not look good on everyone

  • Peter

        posted on April 24 , 2009 :

    Really good post!!! I have the tuxedo vane for sebago’s and absolutely love them!!

  • Memphis

        posted on April 25 , 2009 :

    I think I’d go for Sebago over Sperry, mostly because I like the subtle differences better. Plus I like the purple Colette x Sebago shoe.


        posted on April 25 , 2009 :

    I saw the Vane X sebago collab tuxedo ones in person today looks pretty nice can be used to dress up and dress down. I’m a sebago fan myself even though I have both alex.

  • cam

        posted on May 18 , 2009 :

    -i was at sonoma state to see the campus (if i wnted to go ther or not) and being a YBS member
    all students on the trip must be in buissness caz.
    ME: red GAP V-neck sweater, tan 10 DEEP Armageddon shorts, black THLA adam socks, black SPERRY topsiders

    JUST 2 ADD.

  • Michael K

        posted on July 10 , 2009 :

    A wonderfully written article!

    The best collaborations (in my view) should always add something extra to the product and push it forward in a way that neither of the two companies could achieve independently of each other… something that is often missed from many recent streetwear and sneaker collaborations (which seem to just focus on ever more crazy colourways – but I digress!)

    Anyway, my choice from the above selection would have to be the Sperry. I hope to get a pale green pair soon.

    Another great label to check for boat shoes is the Italian brand — Superga.

    As always, I’m loving the site. I feel well very educated on the New York menswear scene!


  • Allen

        posted on August 5 , 2009 :

    Just for fun, anybody know what brand Magnum P.I. wore?

  • Bryant

        posted on April 7 , 2011 :

    Magnum wore pewter colored thick soled Sperry Topsiders. I owned a pair in the mid-80′s. I owned many topsiders and they were my favorite.

  • Allen

        posted on April 29 , 2011 :

    Thanks Bryant,
    Do you know if they still make that style?

  • Topper

        posted on December 5 , 2012 :

    Colorways and fancy styles aside, the classic Sebago Docksides are made of sturdy leather that will last forever; the stitching will fail first. The Sperry Topsiders however are comfy from the git-go and will fall apart all at once, about the same time the stitching goes out on the Docksides. Oh, and don’t get the Docksides wet… there’s papery stuff in the construction. The Sperrys love to get wet.

  • John Giuffre

        posted on December 31 , 2012 :

    I did an extensive review on both brands. Check it out! We also recently put up 6 month later review. I’ll cast my vote for Sebago.


  • the poo captain

        posted on February 24 , 2013 :


  • Bill

        posted on August 4 , 2013 :

    I have boat shoes from G.H. Bass & Co. And they are amazing. They are super comfortable and are broken in right out of the box no need for soaking them in water. Also they have some crazy color ways. Like dark brown tops with blue soles (the ones I have!). And also navy blue with orange soles. And they have traditional styles too.