King Of The Dock: Sebago Docksides

Of all the things said about the classic Sebago Dockside deck shoe, frequently casually referred to as ‘Docksiders’, very rarely is it said what a wonderful aesthetic they have. The glowing reports of owners of Docksides are full of meaty, practical words like ‘reliable’, ‘trustworthy’ and ‘comfortable’; the sort of words you associate with a disingenuous advertisement for retail banking. Naturally, they are one of the most favoured shoes of genuine ‘docksiders’ – the sort of men who can tie forty-six kinds of knot, chew tobacco and have rough faces, etched by the salt winds of the ocean. But to me, they have an appealing profile, a modest but pleasant ‘decoration’ – coloured laces – and come in an attractive range of colours. I also love the white sole.

On a recent visit to Sweden, to the west coast city of Gothenburg a friend there informed me as I handled a navy blue pair in the emporium NK, ‘These are typically Swedish, everyone here has these.’ Although this did not appear to be true – in fact I saw very few Docksides on my visit (perhaps it was the temperature as Scandinavia is still quite chilly) – many Swedes would have cause to wear them, for come spring and summer, boating plays a significant part in the lives of those on the west and east coasts. Small, medium and large vessels make their way to the islands in and around the two major cities manned by knot-knowledged Scandinavians, dutifully wearing white soled welted deck shoes.

For as pretty as the white sole is, it is also practical; no one wants a dark, grubby mark left by a sliding rubber shoe on the otherwise pristine deck. Sebago Docksides are also famed for being highly resistant to water and having a sole tread that provides sufficient grip, without compromising on weight and manoeuvrability – or on design. They also look fantastic when miles away from sloshing water, shining teak and salty air. They are currently having something of a ‘moment’ in the fashion world, inspiring imagination-fuelled designers to conjure patent leather models, unusual colour combinations and contrast stitching. Vane of New York City has produced some interesting models in cooperation with Sebago, the most interesting being the dark, red-laced ‘Olympian’, the most dowdy being the grey and white ‘Clubhouse’ and the most tongue-in-cheek being the black, patent ‘Tuxedo.’ The success of the experimentation is mixed, but I think the variations offered by Sebago themselves should satisfy most.

In fact, I would go so far as to say you can forego all other models for the Navy, or Blue Nite; the deep blue, the contrast white laces and stitching – and the classic white sole. It is rare that I am so inclined to advocate simplicity, especially when some of the charming combinations offered by Sebago are slightly more recherché, more discerning, but rather like the selection of plain Wayfarers over newer, brasher variations, this is a case when, for me personally, unfussiness wins overall. Match them with some slim fitting deep blue jeans – swinging at a height above the top of the shoe, exposing a very little ankle – a sky blue shirt, cream heavy knit cardigan and perhaps even an in-trend polka dot bow tie.