You can judge people by their shoes. This interesting and maybe controversial statement is backed up by a study done by the University of Kansas, which proves that people can accurately judge 90% of a stranger’s personality by looking at his/her shoes. Maybe to a certain degree, this can be true.
So what does it say when one wears Filipino-designed and -crafted footwear? Let me venture a guess. Perhaps the “wearer” is attracted to a familiar aesthetic, or supports local artisans, or is proud to be Filipino. I think it’s all of the above and, most importantly, he or she has exquisite taste.
What makes a Filipino shoe? Here are four brands creating wonderful and distinct footwear, their fascinating stories, the creative forces behind the label, and the causes they espouse. They will definitely give you a reason to love local more and more.
The bespoke shoes of Tish.ph made their large-scale debut in 2015 when Senator Loren Legarda wore the brand’s first pair during the State of the Nation Address. Founder and designer Tish Sevilla says of that momentous moment: “It became the gateway to so many opportunities for Tish.ph. The SONA was my first official exposure. I am thankful to Senator Legarda for her help and support of our local creations. This also led me to meet amazing people, who have eventually become loyal clients.”
Tish.ph was launched earlier on, in 2007, with its flagship product being custom-designed bags. A few years later, Tish introduced her shoe line, which was custom-made as well. What inspires her as she continues to develop designs for her line is being able to incorporate local materials.
“Diverse and unique, locally produced materials easily speak of our culture and is translated through each pair we create.”
Comfort blending with chic design has always been the key feature of this brand. Tish emphasizes, “With Tish.ph, we focus on comfort, durability (shoes that last for years), not to mention our designs are tailored-fit to our client’s preferences. My designs are inspired by my day-to-day experiences yet remain classic, which means they never go out of season.”
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To view Tish’s designs, visit in Instagram. Send a DM for any inquiries or contact through Viber at 09156398688.
Annie and Lori
A local brand that has gotten international recognition is Annie and Lori. Their shoes have graced the pages of British Vogue, no less. Annie and Lori is a pure leather-sandal brand that features timeless, minimalist designs meticulously handcrafted by Filipino footwear artisans or “sapateros.” Faith Mijares is the founder and creative director of this popular shoe brand, which she named in loving memory of her grandparents.
According to Faith, “We make use of only the highest quality local materials fused into the core of our sustainable and traditional artisan techniques used since the golden era of shoe-making in Marikina.
“Though our expertise is leather, we always wanted a representation of Filipino ingenuity globally, which led us to the introduction of our modern Bakya, Inabel Collection, Sako Collection, and most recently the hybrid espadrille.”
At the very core of Annie and Lori is the high quality and craftsmanship of their pieces. Furthermore, they aim to create an impact in women’s lives through their shoes. Faith says, “A pair can make someone happy, empowered, confident, and travel the world with full enthusiasm and beam with Filipino pride.”
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Enviro-social entrepreneurs and prime movers of sustainable design Mike and Banj Claparols just launched LAKAT Sustainables this year. Already, their eco-friendly sneakers have gained popularity for their cool design and more importantly, ingenious use of local materials. LAKAT Sneakers are 100% Philippine-made using sustainable materials grown and processed locally. The production of each sneaker leaves a positive socio-economic impact on local weavers and farmers, as well as shoe craftsmen.
Regarding the production of their sneakers, Mike says, “The pineapple fibers come from Negros and are sourced from discarded leaves typically thrown after harvesting the fruit. Extraction is made using solar powered energy, which ultimately equates to a lower carbon footprint. Pineapple and cotton fibers are water repellent, and hand-woven by the Kabankalan weavers in Negros. Insoles are made using 100% non-woven pineapple fabric, while outsoles are produced using rubber locally farmed in Mindanao. To further reduce waste, soles are mixed with pineapple cotton fibers discarded from the yarn spinning process.”
LAKAT's long-term goal is to encourage the establishment of more value-added processes in the country, and make us less reliant on imported goods. And it looks like they are on their way to achieve this.
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Although known for her creative and whimsical bags, Zarah Juan also makes one-of-a-kind Batwing Mules. As in, there are no two pairs alike, and each pattern is never replicated or repeated in other sizes. Owning a pair earns you a legitimate right to say that no other person in the world has the same ones as yours. The beautiful patterns are the original design of a Bagobo lady. Its creation has provided jobs and added livelihood to the artisans of the Bagobo Tagabawa Community and the master shoemakers of Marikina City.
Zarah Juan is the founder and creative director of the brand. She also calls herself a “master of dreaming big and serial product developer.” The Zarah Juan brand is a social and cultural enterprise that supports sustainable livelihoods through partnerships with different Filipino craftsmen. Their bags, shoes and accessories are products of collaborations among different artisan communities. Their collections are designed to preserve our Philippine cultural heritage.
Zarah states that “My wish is for #everyjuan to feel proud of who we are as Filipinos. We are a nation blessed with great artisans. There is no better time to support and lift one another than during these challenging times.”
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