Lake Woebegone? Sebago Sold To Italian Firm

American shoe brand Sebago — which is named for the second-largest lake in the state of Maine — was quietly acquired by Italy’s BasicNet back in August 2017 for $14.25 million.

BasicNet is the owner of such brands as Superga, Kappa and K-Way.

Sebago was at one time a brand of The Sebago Moc Company of Westbrook, Maine, and manufactured its shoes there from its founding in 1946 until 2004, a year after it was sold, for the first time, to Wolverine World Wide. Wolverine owned both Sperry Top-Sider and Sebago. This recent sale means that these two storied American brands are once again in competition.

It’s worth noting that the Sebago Instagram page has not been updated since November 2017, a few months after the brand’s sale to BasicNet. The revamped site, www.sebago.com, loads in Italian by default with limited access to the site’s features on the English setting. One is left to wonder about the direction the new owners are taking this long-established brand, given the current situation.

Sebago is most known for claiming to have invented the beefroll penny loafer, a chunkier cousin of the Bass Weejun, and for its ‘Docksides’ boat shoes introduced in 1970. All in all a runner-up shoe brand, but inherently American nonetheless. — GS

29 Comments on "Lake Woebegone? Sebago Sold To Italian Firm"

  1. Used to summer on Sebago. I had a pair of docksiders s a teen. I hated stopping at those roadside lobster shacks. The stomach on the fried clams always triggered me.

  2. I shall cherish my ancient “Made in U.S.A.” beefrolls even more.

  3. I too noticed this recently. Thought I landed on a scam site untill I found out that the brand had been sold. Hope they continue the brand as it was, but things don’t look too promising.
    On a side note, I really preferred Sebago Docksides over Sperrys. The leather was not as plasticky and developed a nice patina.

  4. I’ve never owned Sperrys, for boat shoes I use to wear only Sebagos since that’s what they carried at Westies in Orleans, Mass. Wore them swimming in Long Pond because leeches gave me the willies!

  5. Growing up in the 70s/80s, Sebago “Docksides” (we call them “Docksiders”) were the only shoe to wear! We’d never even heard of Sperry’s.

  6. Giacomo Bruno | April 12, 2018 at 10:01 am | Reply

    Runner-up? I always thought they were a step up from Weejuns.

  7. Giacomo, I meant ‘runner-up’ in that they arrived on the scene after Bass Weejuns and Sperry Top-Siders. Both were invented in the 1930s whereas Sebago was founded in 1946 and made their first boat shoes in 1970.

  8. Giacomo Bruno | April 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Reply

    GS,
    Thank you for the clarification.

  9. My first pair of boat shoes were Docksides, bought in Pulaski Va. Had not heard of Sperry Topsiders at that point, since Lisa Birnbach had not written about them. First pair of pennies, by the way, were Dexters. Never understood a preference for beef roll over pennies, as they seem so clunky and unsmooth.

  10. Old School Tie | April 12, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Reply

    GH Bass camp mocs + Corgi cable knit cashmere socks. Cannot be bettered.

  11. Interesting, I thought that most people had Top-Siders, only. I wore them before reading the OPH and seeing them referenced there gave me the assurance I needed and let me that I was on the right path. As such, I’ve always seen Docksides as copies, I now know that they came much later, and always seemed off to me. I do have a pair of brown US-made Sebago beef roll loafers, which I snagged at a Goodwill store for the hefty price of $8. At prep, I had a friend who wore kiltie Sebago docksides and I envied him because he didn’t seem to even care about them.

  12. Why is the “revamped” site so terrible? Looks cheap and just not convenient to use. Also, why wouldn’t they automatically redirect those who are in the US, to the English language/$ version of the site? Looks very very unpromising.

  13. Pietro Milanese | April 13, 2018 at 12:03 am | Reply

    For those not able to find the site in English:

    https://www.sebago.com/en/home

    IT: Do you think that Italians expect American companies to automatically redirect to the Italian version of their sites?

  14. Pietro, I noted that the site’s English setting has limited features, such as pricing which is only shown in Euros. Not exactly helpful despite the shoe names being in English. They clearly don’t seem to be catering to non-European customers, which is odd for an American shoe brand, even one owned by Italians. All in all, the site is terrible. It looks fake and doesn’t run very well.

  15. Giacomo Bruno | April 13, 2018 at 9:54 am | Reply

    GS,
    Is it so hard for Americans to convert € to $ ?

  16. Giacomo, the point is that it is not accommodating to non-European customers. The English setting should have US prices to cater to US customers. It’s an American brand and it’s totally abandoning its base.

  17. I have fond memories of wearing Duck Head khakis, oxfords and red leather and white soled Sebago Docksides to many a bonfire and beer party with girlfriends back in the ’80s. It’s funny how a single night can remain burned into one’s brain. My girl was in town from William and Mary with her old tan Chevy coupe with bench seat. We drive over the Lynnhaven Inlet on the then two lane Lesner Bridge with the windows open and Dexey’s Midnight Runners and Simple Minds on the radio. The air was humid with a salty tang. We have beer and some firewood in the trunk and we’re meeting ten or so friends on the North End. Imagine the first scene from Jaws without the pot or the shark. Great times, no worries.

    Cheers,

    Will

  18. @sacksuit, thanks so much for sharing that memory. Although I was (obviously) not there, it brought a smile to my face nonetheless, as I can imagine exactly that which you’re describing.

  19. Will, I’m serious you need to write a book filled with these short stories. Contact a publisher, please!

  20. Philippe Dumont | April 13, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Reply

    GS,
    The point is that Americans expect the whole world to accomodate to them.

  21. Forgive me for interjecting, GS and Phillipe, if that really is your name, but should not the whole world accommodate the United States?

    One gin and tonic in,

    Will

  22. Oh just wonderful.
    Another Italian company to ruin another classic American style like BB’s has.
    Maybe they will offer vent less beef roll Italian loafers.
    Jim M.

  23. Phillippe, they aren’t accommodating anyone other than those who live in countries that use Euros. Also, yes I’d expect a brand that is most popular in America to cater to Americans, as radical as that sounds…

  24. Latecomer to the party though I am, I have to weigh in. I love my Docksides and hope this company continues to remain focused on the U.S. market, however it might ruffle Signores Bruno’s and Dumont’s feathers.

  25. You and me both, Richard, but I’ve not got much hope for Sebago. Hold on to your Docksides, things are about to get rough.

  26. Good stuff!

  27. Davide, how do you mean?

  28. Henry Contestwinner | May 8, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Reply

    Pietro, Giacomo, and Philippe,

    As offensive as it might be to your sensibilities, most companies do cater to the American market, if only because it is largest one. It makes good business sense to do so, and to fail to do so is to risk losing American business.

  29. Pretty crappy marketing plan to buy a company whose customer base is mostly comprised of Americans then stop selling the product in America and not offer online sales to cater to the majority of your customer base – Brilliant! Makes you wonder why they even bought the company to begin with.

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