In an interesting footnote of fashion history, it once was common practice for tire companies to have a shoe concern on the side, in order to recoup a little scratch from all their leftover rubber. One such brand, SeaVees, was launched in California in 1964 by rubber conglomerate B.F. Goodrich; its line of handsome shoes in four colors retailed for a modest $5.99 per pair. Seven years later, with California dominating the nation in music, art, design, architecture and the still-emerging "lifestyle" category, SeaVees promptly folded and disappeared into oblivion.
That is, until 2006, when footwear-industry veterans Derek Galkin and Steven Tiller joined forces to revive the brand, creating new designs that take inspiration from the Golden State's rich cultural history. The (still-evolving) result: 24 genius models of men's shoes and boots (plus a full women's line), each of them either a perfect reinterpretation of a classic or an entirely new iteration of a Cali classic: a hiking shoe, a moccasin, a sneaker, a slip-on.
Our favorites run to both poles. The 02/60 7-Eye Trail Boot, inspired by the sorts worn during Squaw Valley's heyday as host of the 1960 Winter Olympics, wear like work boots but fit and feel like sneakers (we like them in flagstone). Still, we lean most toward the 12/67 3-Eye Chukka, which looks like the landmark Clarks Desert Boot, only rendered in better colors and more durable fabrications (we're particularly fond of the arabica oiled suede). Not only do they harken back to the age of effortless California cool, in practical terms they go with virtually anything you throw at 'em, short of a pinstriped suit. [$198 (7-Eye Trail Boot) or $178 (3-Eye Chukka); seavees.com]