Sapatero Manila Elevates Its Craft With Linya de Ilustrado
History rightfully remembers the Ilustrados as key figures of the Filipino revolution. These were gentlemen so dedicated to the mastery of their craft that they embarked on journeys of learning that brought them to the other side of the world. Through their talents, advanced education, and dedicated practice, Ilustrados like Jose Rizal, Antonio Luna, Juan Luna, and Marcelo H. Del Pilar put Filipinos on the world stage of art and culture.
Today, Sapatero Manila has embarked on a journey not unlike that of the 19th-century Ilustrado. The local footwear label is looking to elevate the Philippines' shoemaking industry to global prominence with Linya de Ilustrado, its new premium bespoke service.
The Ilustrados of Shoemaking
As a pioneering bespoke shoemaker in the Philippines, Sapatero Manila looks to raise the collective caliber of local shoemaking with every world-class pair made in its workshop.
In the same way that Rizal and his contemporaries traveled abroad to learn from the masters of different disciplines, so did Jerard Jader, one of the founders and artisans of Sapatero Manila. In 2020, he went to Italy, with the singular mission of learning from the best there is. Like the Ilustrados, Jader is devoted to keeping his craft alive in the Philippines, and works constantly to perfect it.
At the Stefano Bemer School in Florence, Jader further honed his shoemaking skills. He then applied these to revamp the Filipino brand's bespoke shoemaking offerings, which had already been unrivaled in the country. The result is Linya de Ilustrado, an exclusive line for its very select clientele.
Linya de Ilustrado
Its very name is an homage to the Philippines' enlightened revolutionaries. Linya de Ilustrado mirrors their legacy, of journeying to faraway places with the goal of advancing their knowledge to create a lasting impact on their craft upon return.
From Linya de Ilustrado, clients can expect improved hand-welting, sleeker last profiles, finer outsole hand-stitching, and refined finishing techniques; as well as the finest materials sourced from key suppliers both here and in Italy. It's a milestone in Sapatero Manila’s pursuit of shoemaking mastery.
The process begins with measuring the client’s feet, which will be used for their own bespoke shoe last. At least two fitting sessions will follow to determine the proportions that would ensure the best fit and comfort. Once the estimations and detailing are done, the crafting of the pair starts. Beginning to end, this requires at least 80 work hours. Perfection, after all, can never be rushed.
And what only a chosen few can make, only a chosen few can wear. Sapatero Manila accommodates only four orders a month for Linya de Ilustrado.
The Next Journey
Sapatero Manila has come a long way since its early days in a makeshift garage workshop, back when the team had only their love for shoes. Without local mentors or schools that teach fine shoemaking in Metro Manila, the group slowly learned through plenty of experimentation. It was a continuous trial-and-error process with materials and techniques, using whatever knowledge shoemakers abroad were willing to share online.
But hard work, perseverance, and passion are always rewarded accordingly. The brand steadily attracted enthusiastic clients, both here and abroad, who wanted to either celebrate or journey towards their life’s milestones in a Sapatero pair. By 2019, the company opened its own showroom in Ortigas, and is now launching Linya de Ilustrado—a big step forward despite the pandemic.
The next big step, then, is continuing the legacy of excellence by passing down the craft of shoemaking to a new generation. That's why Sapatero Manila has set its sights on establishing a shoemaking school, to groom the next Ilustrados of shoemaking.
Original words by Isay M. Roque
About Sapatero Manila
Sapatero Manila offers Ready-to-Wear, Made-to-Order, and Bespoke shoes for men and women, with a brand new women’s collection coming in the next few months.
Founded in 2013, the company was borne out of a passion for shoes, a reverence to the art of creating one, and the goal to revitalize the tradition of Philippine handmade shoemaking. Set in the age of mechanical reproduction, Sapatero Manila exists to keep the craft of bespoke shoemaking alive, to constantly perfect it, and to pass it on to a new generation of artisans.
The showroom is in Unit 17, 8137 Plaza, Escriva Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, and is open from 11am to 6pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays. Follow @sapateromanila on Facebook and Instagram, and visit www.sapatero.com to learn more.