One of the things that I look out for when I travel around the Philippines are items made from native weaves or indigenous textiles. Underneath the motifs and patterns are beautiful stories of culture and heritage from different tribes and the skillful artists who weave them.
In Lake Sebu in Cotabato, I meet with T’boli dreamweavers who weave abaca fibers into T’nalak. In Tawi-Tawi, I bought handwoven mats known as tepo from women in a Badjao village. In Basilan, I marveled at the intricate designs of Yakan weaving at the home of a princess.
Handwoven textiles are one of the most unique cultural souvenirs you can take home from different places, while supporting local artists. But as beautiful as they are, I admit that once I take them home, there’s not much I can do with them. Aside from displaying them as table runners or hanging them on the wall, the raw fabric itself doesn’t serve a practical purpose for me. If ever I buy something made of the traditional textiles, I’d prefer something useful like wallets, bags or scarves.
Luckily, I came across a brand of practical and stylish footwear that makes use of these indigenous textiles. Lakhambini is a footwear line founded by Mai Flores, the travel blogger behind Budget Biyahera. Inspired her passion for traveling and discovering cultural treasures, Mai started the social enterprise to preserve Philippine culture and heritage by using handwoven textiles and handmade shoes. The name itself Lakhambini means “noble dame,” while the logo incorporates the word “HABI” or the local term for weave.
The Cordillera Collection I features summer-ready footwear that comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles (mostly from Size 5 to 9), including ballet flats, sandals and heels. As a way to honor their handiwork, the shoe styles are named after specific weavers from Bontoc and the Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region.
The IRENE round-toe ballet flats with accent piping and bow ribbon is one of the popular designs. Another is the SONIA 3-strap sandals in two-prints. For ladies who like heels, there’s the EDNA Ankle Strap Heels with blue and red insoles. I currently have two pairs of the ROMANA two strap slip on sandals, in my favorite black and red colors and the blue and red design.
The Cordillera Collection II features a few more ballet flats with piping, toe sandals and wedges. I really wanted to get the red and black sandals, but unfortunately this design wasn’t available in my size.
A new collection is set to be released this November 2015. Check out available designs and sizes from the previous collections HERE.
While I love the designs of the sandals, slippers and flats, I’m not really into heels and wedges. I would be very interested in boots or sneaker-type shoes that incorporated the indigenous textiles somehow. 🙂
1. All shoes are made with traditional handwoven textiles
The first collection makes use of Cordillera textiles, specifically inspired by the Mountain Province and Benguet. These Philippine fabrics were weaved using traditional looms by the women of Easter Weaving Room in Baguio. Easter Weaving continues to uphold the Cordillera culture and support cultural art forms particularly weaving while providing a sustainable livelihood for locals.
2. They are 100% locally produced footwear
Lakhambini is 100% locally produced from materials to construction, making it unique and truly Filipino. Aside from the textile being sourced from weavers in the Cordillera region, the footwear is manufactured by local shoemakers in Marikina. The shoes were designed by Mai herself, a young Filipina entrepreneur who graduated with a BS Clothing Technology degree from UP Diliman.
3. The special design ensures a comfortable fit
Made with the customer’s comfort in mind, Lakhambini’s specially designed arch support was borne from extensive research on women’s concerns when it comes to everyday footwear. The cushioned insoles makes it more comfortable to walk in. The shoes come with skid-free rubber outsoles and are sprayed with special coating.
At Museo de Santa Monica beside Panay Church in Capiz
FIELD TEST NOTES:
- I have been using the ROMANA two-strap sandals for a couple of months now.
- The flats I got are suitable for general activities during travel like city tours, visiting churches and landmarks, souvenir shopping in markets, or just eating out in restaurants.
- If there’s no hiking or water activities involved, I would prefer wearing these because it’s more comfortable to walk around than closed shoes. The sandals are also much more comfortable compared to rubber slippers.
- Sometimes, traveling involves cultural events or requires me to wear something a little more dressy for fellowship nights, cocktails, art exhibits, fine dining, meet-and-greet sessions with local politicians and other semi-formal occasions. I regret to say that I have attended some of these events in the past just wearing rubber slippers or hiking shoes because I don’t own dressier shoes.
- There was no break-in period at all. I didn’t get any blisters after wearing the pair of sandals for the first time
- I wore this in Capiz during a heritage city walk, tour of churches and religious landmarks. It held up while climbing a lot of stairs to get up to grottos as well as a hike up to a lighthouse from a beach.
- The shoes look great in selfeet photos 🙂
Beautiful floor tiles at Las Casas de Acuzar in Bataan
- I also wore it in Japan while walking around Takayama during the Autumn Festival and found it very comfortable. I was expecting cold weather so I brought boots, but I found it more comfortable to wear sandals.
- They provide great cushioning and support that keeps your feet comfy even if you’re walking all day.
- While the sandals are generally casual and can be worn with shorts, leggings or jeans, they can easily match dressier occasions and be worn with dresses. It’s always nice to have a pretty pair of sandals to slip on at the end of the day.
Walking around the Old Town in Takayama, Japan during the Autumn Festival
To be honest, I don’t consider myself an expert in fashion. In fact, this is probably the first pair of girly shoes I’ve had in a while, so I asked a few other ladies who have been using other Lakhambini shoe models what they like best about it, and here’s what they have to say:
“What I love about Lakhambini shoes is that it is locally-made from traditional Philippine textiles. It is trendy and comfortable to wear especially for a new mom like me who is always on-the-go. Something that every Pinay must have! ” — Angel Caronogan-Enero, IT Systems Administrator (using IRENE round toe ballet flats)
“I love to collect and use Filipino products. I also go for comfort when purchasing shoes. I’ve tried other sandals before and it felt as if I was walking without shoes. But with Lakhambini, the sandals are thick and has good cushioning. We traveled a lot last summer from North to South and I’ve used it from the beach to waterfalls. I even tried hiking in it which shows how durable the product is!” – Jinkee Umali, IT Project Director & Blogger, Life Life to the Fullest (using SONIA 3-strap sandals & EDNA ankle-strap heels)
“My Sylvias are beautiful and comfortable. I am recovering from a badly broken leg, and have been comfortably using these sandals while moving using a walker, and now a cane. I plan to wear these sandals once I start walking again as they have been comfortable. And, I have a soft spot for products that support a people’s culture, heritage, and livelihood, and Lakhambini does this beautifully.” – Claire Madarang, Writer & Blogger, Traveling Light (Using SYLVIA sandals).
Check out this article by Claire: Made with Love and Indigenous Textiles on Choose Philippines.
Lakhambini shoes are very stylish yet practical, ideal for women from all walks of life. It will appeal to those who love traveling and who want to wear something that shows off Philippine culture and heritage wherever their journey may take them. They’re a great conversation piece!
One pair of shoes ranges from P999 – P1800 depending on the style and design. The Romana Strap Slip On Sandals I got normally costs P1,300 but I got it at a sale price of P1,000. Read more about Lakhambini’s Pricing Scheme.
WHERE TO BUY IT:
Lakhambini currently has no physical store, though they do meet-ups in Quezon City and participate in bazaars and fairs. You can order online through numerous channels including:
- Website: www.lakhambini.tictail.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/lakhambini
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/lakhambini
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about how Lakhambini started in this post and this video:
NOTE: Product photos courtesy of Lakhambini. Photos from testimonials from their respective owners.