Lakat’s sneaker collection elevates the conversation on wearable art

Made possible through a collaboration with some of the country’s most exciting artists, it also aims to strengthen the bond between Philippine art and sustainable fashion.

Everybody loves sneakers. It’s not difficult to see why—sneakers are fun, versatile, and comfortable.

But sneakers can be art, too—wearable but also sustainable art specifically. 

A first in Philippine fashion, local contemporary artists come together to create sneakers for Lakat, a homegrown brand known for its ethos for sustainability, slow fashion, inclusivity, and self expression. 

The sneaker collection, which will debut at the Art Fair Philippines 2024, endeavors to democratize wearable art while showcasing the creativity of Filipino artists. In the process, the collaboration will also promote local, eco-friendly, and sustainable textiles and strengthen the bond between Philippine art and sustainable fashion.

Pushing the conversation 

Dex Fernandez, Liliana Manahan, and Doktor Karayom hold sneakers they designed for Lakat’s new collection.

If anything, Lakat is eager to elevate the conversation on wearable art—the kind that is accessible, sustainable, and fit for everyday wear—through its collaboration with Philippine contemporary artists Doktor Karayom, Liliana Manahan, and Dex Fernandez. 

The brand’s consulting creative director, Luis Espiritu, shared that the idea stemmed from issues that currently surround the fashion industry. “Seldom do we hear it as being perceived as art. And when we are presented with wearable art, it is often made such that it is expensive, elusive, and something that we cannot easily access or enjoy,” he explained. 

This is why he was inspired to put together a collection of sneakers that embodies art that can be worn every day. “It is accessible, functional, practical yet creatively fun,” he added.

Doktor Karayom (Russell Trinidad in real life), attested to the sneakers’ simplicity, versatility, and comfort. “Dahil mahilig ako maglakad-lakad eh hindi sumakit ‘yung paa ko tapos ang presko sa pakiramdam,” he says. 

Doktor Karayom (Russell Trinidad in real life)

He shared how he had always dreamed of designing shoes. “Noong una, hindi pa talaga siya pumapasok sa sistema ko at hindi ko rin akalain na makakasama ako dito…walang pagdadalawang isip ay umoo ako. Unti-unting nabubuo ang pagkasabik ko para rito mula sa unang pag-uusap hanggang sa pagbuo ng konsepto, at mabigyan ng pagkakataon na makita ang proseso at paggawa ng isang magandang sapatos.”

Garapata’s Dex Fernandez was also excited when Lakat reached out to him regarding the collaboration. “I haven’t worked with any shoe brands yet. When I was invited to collaborate with Lakat, I didn’t think twice,” shared the interdisciplinary artist. “Also, I support Lakat’s values, sustainability, and their way of helping local artisans.”

On sustainable sneakers as the canvas, Dex said there had been a lot of considerations, such as the quality and durability of the prints, the choice of colors, and how they can be paired with different clothes. “So, I want it to be neutral as it can be because I want the Gara-Lakat shoes to be worn on many occasions,” he explained.  

He made three different designs for the collection: high and low-cut and a slip-on with minimal designs.

Liliana, just like Doktor Karayom and Dex, didn’t have to think twice about saying yes to the project. “I saw that the material and design had been well thought of, plus I love sneakers, so I saw it as a great opportunity offered to me to design my own.”

Liliana Manahan admires Lakat’s vision when it comes to sustainability.
Photo from Before Deadlines

The Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design alumna shared how she admires Lakat’s dedication to using pineapple fiber in every part of the shoe. The brand, she said, has a “really tight vision” on how they want to showcase a material in usable and attractive ways. “They also highlight the people behind the work, which I appreciate a lot,” she added.

Strong identities, unique perspectives

Dex Fernandez is best known for his character called Garapata, which resembles a head with multiple legs. Photo from Before Deadlines

Luis explained that the three artists were chosen for their strong sense of identity. “Each of these young renowned Filipino artists has a signature character or is known for their creatures and marks of distinction.”

Garapata, for instance, has become Dex’s signature character and brand, a representation of the complexities of being a human. “My core concept is about infestation of varied spaces, exploring how humans (are) intertwined with each other, manifesting this idea through whimsical settings with the main character, Garapata.”

Liliana, meanwhile, likes thinking in 3D. “I’ve been experimenting with sculpted paper and enjoying seeing how sculpting paper can be translated into other materials like metal and textile. So, I put all these things together since it made the most sense and challenged myself to apply this aesthetic to the sneakers.” 

Her shoe collection with Lakat, called “Clarence’s Afternoon Stroll,” was inspired by the bird she has been drawing for fun since high school and which she finally introduced to her followers on social media during the pandemic. “I illustrated him in different postures and mundane or near-death situations that I guess reflected the whole atmosphere of the lockdown. He eventually acquired the name Clarence.”

Liliana enthused that her collection with Lakat serves as Clarence’s “debut/soft opening to the world.”

Doktor Karayom, on the other hand, infuses his imagery with “style, lore, personal anecdotes, and wit.” He has always been drawn to the concept of “(na)engkanto,”​ which he culls from his childhood memories. ​“Palagi ako napaglalaruan ng mga duwende o engkanto dahil gala ako.”

He likens his adventures from when he was still a child to wearing his shoes for the Lakat collection. He added: “Tulad ng pagsuot ng sapatos na ito ay madadala ka nito sa lugar na gusto mong puntahan ng komportable at may tiwala sa paglalakad mo. Tulad din ng na-engkantong nilalang, pakiramdam minsan ay naliligaw ka at may tumutubong kung ano- ano sa iyong katawan. Binigyan ko ito ng isa pang perspektibo na kung saan ka man mapunta ay makakatulong sa paglago ng iyong sarili.”

A celebration of artistry, uniqueness

The sneaker collection is a celebration of the artistry and uniqueness of the three artists. Photo from Before Deadlines

Luis said that each of the artist’s unique identity gives an impression of surrealism and a peek into the existence of imaginary worlds. They were given free rein in working out their ideas and designs as long as it’s within the capacity of the production and suppliers.

He was happy to share that finalizing the designs was “easy and fast.” It was exploring ways of design execution with the right materials that took a while, he said, as these matters are always trial and error.

As this collection from the Lak+Art Series is on the cusp of debuting at the Art Fair 2024, Luis and the artists could only be excited.

“I love that each artist is celebrated in the beauty of their artistry and uniqueness. They exemplify an outstanding synergy of three-in-one,” Luis said. “Each artist takes you to their world, fantasy, and reality. More importantly, they explore fashioned art that you can wear.”

Lakat Sustainables support livelihood for local weavers, shoemakers, and rubber farmers. You may follow Lakat on Instagram for more information.

Associate Editor

The new lifestyle.