This National Competition Shows Why Filipino Footwear Designers Are The Best In The World

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Through the 7th Filipino Footwear Design Competition, these footwear designers showcase new designs that are artistic, chic and globally-competitive.

Related: These Runway Shoes Will Define The Footwear Trend Next Season

There is no doubt that the Philippines is a creative nation. From artistic renderings that know all over the world like Josie Natori for clothes, Kenneth Cobonpue for furniture and Kermit Tesoro for shoes there is no doubt to the talent that reside in the pearl of the pacific. The Department of Trade and Industry took notice of this, specifically with the ever growing shoe and leather industry and invested in it through the Shared Services Facilities with new technologies for prototyping and feasibility studies. 

But at the forefront of this movement is the Philippine Footwear Federation Inc. who partnered with DTI to create the Filipino Footwear Design Competition, a national competition that is often the pre-set to the most awaited International Footwear Design Competition. On their 7th year, the competition took a digital approach to host the competition because of the on going pandemic. Even with these unexpected challenges, the designers still put up pieces that are at par with their international counter parts. 

Joel Wijangco, Carla Apostol, Mark Boni Marte, Michael Joseph Bawar, Josie Natori, Kenneth Cobonpue, Kermit Tesoro, footwear

The seven top finalists were given the theme ‘Creative Virality’ that combines creative talent with digital appeal—a possible catalyst for international recognition. One of the designers, Michael Joseph Bawar honored Filipino craftsmanship with his “Song of the Seamstress” shoe that featured a roll of thread as a heel, a pin cushion for the upper heel and a tape measure as straps. On the other hand Mark Boni Marter was inspired by the jeepney and created a shoe that is just as colorful and robot-like using scraps and offcuts to embrace the practice of sustainability.

Joel Wijangco, Carla Apostol, Mark Boni Marte, Michael Joseph Bawar, Josie Natori, Kenneth Cobonpue, Kermit Tesoro, footwear

Another favorite is Carla Apostol’s Sierra boot that was inspired by nature. The black calf leather represent volcanic rocks while the white croc-embossed leather represent ice and snow. Joel Wijangco’s take on the theme was a feast for the eyes. Inspired by him and his sister’s comfort food which is a bowl of noodles, Wijangco aimed to show whimsical joy to offset his sister’s cancer diagnosis.

It is beautiful to see that the Filipino shoemaking industry is expanding not only in terms of reach but also with their creativity. Even if it comes from different inspirations, the FFDC together with DTI and other partners like Zapateria hub always aim to put the spotlight on the creative talent that is uniquely Filipino.

Photography by MARK NETO DIAZ
Shot on location at CITY STUDIO