These Filipino Shoemakers Make Amazing Custom-Made Shoes
Need a new pair of leather shoes? Before you haul yourself to the nearest store, consider getting a custom-made pair of shoes. These are sophisticated, timeless, and ready for most occasions (you can’t exactly wear your sneakers to the office or to your cousin’s wedding).
Why get a pair? Custom-made shoes are designed for the unique specifications of your feet, meaning you’re getting the most perfect fit. As such, these pairs are guaranteed to almost last a lifetime and, more important, won’t cause any issues with discomfort.
Right now, there is a new generation of shoemakers who are set to restore the glory days of Marikina as the premium shoemaking capital of the Philippines. These local cobblers will provide you with what you need, whether it's custom-made shoes with a classic style or a radical design.
1| Sapatero Manila
Marikina holds a reputation for being a city of the finest shoemakers, but the local industry has seen a decline over the decades. Launched in 2013, Sapatero Manila is part of the new generation of cobblers who are leading the revival of the city's shoe industry. It merges the time-honored techniques of Marikeño craftsmen with the finest leathers from France, Italy, and England. The result? Fine, elegant shoes worthy of their heritage.
Suit it Up Manila, L&R Building, Arnaiz Avenue, Makati; Felipe and Sons, El Pueblo, Ortigas; Felipe and Sons, San Agustin Street, Salcedo Village, Makati; @sapateromanila on Facebook and Instagram
Besa’s is undoubtedly one of the most well-known shoemakers in the country. What started as a humble operation near Escolta in 1935 has grown to become one of the most pervasive custom shoe brands with several branches in the country and abroad. Aside from leather footwear, Besa's does orthopedic and corrective shoes for feet that need them.
Located in España, Signo Custom Clothing redefines the Filipino gentleman with bespoke services for suits and shoes. (Its founder, Renz Signo, places an emphasis on helping clients establish their fundamental style.) Like most local shoemakers, Signo sources its leather from Marikina, the shoe capital of the Philippines. It's also on the more affordable end for custom-made shoes with orders starting at P5,899.
4| R.E. Craftsman
Local haberdashery JE & Co. has launched its own line of custom-made shoes, R.E. Craftsman, making it a one-stop shop for very special occasions that need both suit and shoe. Its custom-made shoes, which are also made by Marikina shoemakers, take roughly three weeks to be completed and prices range between P4,000 to P4,500, which is a pretty good deal.
49 Malingap St. Teacher's Village, Quezon City.
5| Joco Comendador
“Footwear + Art” perfectly describes Joco Comendador’s namesake footwear brand. Aside from classic leather shoes, the designer specializes in edgier, avant-garde styles for men who want to show off their individuality. What's more, he offers shoemaking workshops so you can learn how to make your own pair.
@jococomendador on Facebook and Instagram
6| Black Wing Shoes
Black Wing is for the risk-taking, style-forward shoe hound. The Marikina-based company accommodates almost all styles, from the rugged to the unconventional, and when you don’t have a specific look in mind, you can communicate your ideas to owner Buddy Tan, who will then sketch a one-of-a-kind design. Here, individuality is key.
12 Erano Manalo Street, Barangay Sto. Nino, Marikina City; blackwingshoes.com; @blackwingshoes on Instagram
7| Marquina Shoes
Marquina, another proudly Marikeño brand, has earned a following for its craftsmanship. Of note, the company does not use just one supplier, preferring to choose different factories for different specialties. Aside from leather dress shoes, it also provides contemporary takes on Chelsea boots and loafers. There's also its Try-at-Home program, where it sends you a pair to test drive. Made-to-order shoes start at P5,450.
8| Godfather Shoes
Established in 1986, Godfather Shoes is perfect for first-timers who may be overwhelmed by a sea of shoes. It provides just the right options with custom-made shoes in a range of classics and essentials styles. As well, it offers quality at a price that won't hurt the wallet with leather-soled dress shoes starting at P5,900.
What kind of leather shoes should I get?
You can’t just walk in, pick out a shoe, and call it a day. There are different styles meant for different occasions. Most shoes are likely suited for casual endeavors. Boots are great for the coffee meeting with a client, seeing friends at a bar, or going on a date. Loafers are ideal for dressier lunch venues or a creative workplace. Lace-ups are trickier. Broguing, or those little decorative holes, make lace-ups more casual. The less broguing, the more formal shoes become. The black plain oxford lace-ups are for formal events.