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Made With Love and Indigenous Textiles: Lakhambini Shoes and Sandals

Claire Madarang
Claire Madarang | Oct 30, 2015
Made With Love and Indigenous Textiles: Lakhambini Shoes and Sandals

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.

indigenous textiles, shoes and sandals
INDIGENOUS DESIGNS. Lakhambini shoes and sandals are made with indigenous woven fabrics. Patterns in these footwear above are woven in the Cordillera region. All photos courtesy of Mai Flores.

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. 

Cordillera indigenous textiles, weavers
DEDICATION. Weaving is a long process that requires skill and patience. This is Janet, the oldest weaver Lakhambini works with. She has been weaving for 20 years.

 

Cordillera indigenous textiles, weavers
TRADITION. The weavers' work are a testament to their people’s rich culture and tradition.

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.

Cordillera indigenous textiles, weavers
HONORING WEAVERS. Lakhambini founder Mai Flores has named her footwear designs after the weavers she works with, one of whom is Sylvia.

  

comfortable shoes, locally made shoes, Marikina, Cordillera
COMFORT.  Made with soft soles, Lakhambini sandals are comfortable for daily wear and for travels.

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.  

social enterprise, locally made shoes, local livelihood
ADVOCACY. Lakhambini founder Mai Flores hopes to support more local weavers as her business grows.

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.

LAKHAMBINI --- SHOES THAT FIT YOUR SOLE! from Lakhambini on Vimeo.

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