Made With Love and Indigenous Textiles: Lakhambini Shoes and Sandals
Claire Madarang | Oct 30, 2015
Indigenous textiles are a product of long hours and patience. Bending over looms and notwithstanding the occasional back pains and numbness in their hands and shoulders, weavers painstakingly pass threads over and under other threads to form beautiful patterns taught by their parents or grandparents. These patterns are handed down across generations, and are a testament to the richness of their people’s culture.
During her travels around the Philippines, traveler and entrepreneur Mai Flores was drawn to these different textiles’ vibrant designs and the amount of work and long tradition behind them. A clothing technology graduate in college, she decided on a footwear business that would make use of Philippine indigenous textiles. “Not only do I get to use local resources, I also get to show my country’s beautiful heritage and culture in every pair,” she said.
As Flores first encountered indigenous textiles in her travels to the Cordillera region, her first two collections made use of these textiles. She talked to weavers at Easter Weaving Room, a Baguio-based indigenous textile and local product center with in-house weavers, and got to know the weavers whose work she will be using for her business. The weavers Flores works with, who are all women, come from Benguet, Mt. Province, and Apayao. Some of them had been weaving for a long time, one as long as 20 years.
Flores is inspired by the “long and meticulous” weaving process and the weavers’ dedication. Weavers usually finish 100 meters of fabric in 30-45 days, depending on the pattern’s intricacy.
To also honor these women, Flores named each of her shoe and sandal designs after them. In fact, her business’ brand name, Lakhambini, is also a tribute to Filipino women. “Lakambini” means a noble woman, and Flores spelled it as “Lakhambini,” also for the word “habi” (weave) to show in the brand logo.
Lakhambini also aims to support the livelihood not just of local weavers but also of shoemakers. Using mostly local materials, Marikina shoemakers stitch and put together the Lakhambini shoes and sandals.
The shoemakers used soft soles and other materials meant for comfort as Flores had intended Lakhambini to be footwear she and other travelers can use during trips, and even for everyday wear. She attests to Lakhambini’s comfort as she and other travelers have worn Lakhambini during trips and leisure activities, and also during work.
A relatively new business, Lakhambini has plans of further helping in the preservation of indigenous culture as the business grows. “Lakhambini’s vision is to eventually help and contribute to our local craftsmen and women and indigenous people by sharing a percentage from sales to a chosen weaving community,” Flores explained.
In the future, Flores said Lakhambini may also be using indigenous designs from other regions aside from Cordillera.
To know more about Lakhambini, watch the video below.