LADs We Love: Steven Tiller, SeaVees CEO
Steven Tiller took the long route to California. The Oklahoma-born shoe designer turned SeaVees CEO spent his formative years in the flat-as-a-pancake university town of Norman before deciding to finally head west and revive our favorite casual shoe brand.
After his long career of designing shoes in the East coast, Tiller wanted to run his own business and he wanted to move. He decided to find a brand that needed his help, bought some plane tickets and started scouring the world’s vintage stores, picking out deadstock sneakers and sending them home to his increasingly cluttered basement. He “kissed a lot of frogs” looking for something worth resuscitating, but when he hit Japan he hit the motherlode.
“On my first day in Tokyo, I found this old pair of SeaVees, which I had never heard of even though I was being paid to know every stitch in every brand,” says Tiller. “I did my research and realized that these guys pioneered sneaker culture.”
Tiller had found his future and, more importantly on some level, his ticket to California. He moved his family to Santa Barbara and started digging through his new brand’s old-school roots. In the mid-sixties, SeaVees had billed itself as “the new way to go casual.” The rubber for the soles came from tire factories and were vulcanized using a process no longer practiced stateside. Tiller had to find a Chinese manufacturer capable of replicating the process and creating something that he describes as “familiar.” The goal, after all, was not to win any design awards - Tiller has a tendency to say things like: “We’re not going to win any design awards” - but to create something wearable and reminiscent of the sixties, when America went haywire and California found itself in a haze of violence, music, drugs, and Big Sur fog.
There's really nothing better than a tried-and-true sneaker you can fall back on. We're proud to call the folks at SeaVees our friends and we're sure once you try on a pair of their shoes, you'll be doing the same.