Philippine Daily Inquirer
Green from the get-go: ‘Piña’ in sneakers’ fabric
Lakat uses sustainable and locally sourced materials, like farmed rubber from Mindanao and discarded pineapple leaves
They may look like your favorite pair but these sneakers that come in black, white, green and pink are 100-percent Filipino-made using rubber from Mindanao and a water repellent pineapple-cotton fabric blend woven in Negros. Foreign brands brag how their products can be recycled or upcycled but from the get-go, these Lakat shoes are sustainably made with fibers sourced from discarded pineapple leaves.
They look strangely familiar, like that favorite pair of well-worn lace-up sneakers with their solid-colored fabric uppers and white rubber toe caps. They even come in two versions, high-top and low-top. But they’re really not that brand.
The shoes are the latest from Lakat (from the Ilonggo word meaning “to move” or “to walk on foot”), one of the newer lines from the group Creative Definitions.
They’re 100-percent Filipino-made using locally sourced materials like farmed rubber from Mindanao for the outsoles, pineapple-cotton fabric blend for the uppers and laces braided with pineapple-cotton fiber. Even the insole, which is traditionally made entirely from a stretchy polymer called Eva, is made this time of 100-percent pineapple non-woven fabric affixed to a thinner layer of Eva.
To reinforce the outsoles and limit wastage, threads that naturally break off during the spinning process were added to the rubber mixture. Each pair
is then treated with a product to make them water repellent.
Lower carbon footprint
“Whenever other brands talk about sustainability, they usually focus on how their products can be recycled or upcycled,” Mike Claparols of Creative Definitions told Lifestyle in a phone interview.
The pineapple fibers used in making Lakat shoes are sourced from pineapple leaves typically discarded after harvesting the fruit. Extraction is then made using solar-powered energy, which ultimately equates to a lower carbon footprint.
“We source our materials locally, and practice fair trade by paying a premium to both the farmers and the weavers. We believe the money they earn should not just go to the essentials; there should be enough for them to really live and thrive,” he added.
Together with his wife Johanna “Banj” Claparols, the couple started Creative Definitions in 2008 as resellers of Negros-made products. Since then, they’ve evolved and describe what they do now as an enviro-social enterprise.
“Initially we just wanted to get these products out there in the local market, hopefully give more opportunities for the producers,” he said.
In 2017, after close to a decade, the couple began partnering with several weaving communities in Negros, starting with the Negros 9 Kabankalan Weavers. The 14 active weavers who live in a remote area in the mountains of Kabankalan in Negros Occidental were organized into a group. Other partnerships with weavers from the nearby town of Valladolid, Negros Occidental, and the town of Bacong, Negros Oriental, followed.
The ultimate goal is for these collaborations to achieve long-term sustainability for all parties involved.
Under Lakat, Creative Definitions came out a few years ago with foot
wear by Marikina shoemakers that incorporated natural fibers like coco coir for inner soles and upcycled rubber tires for outer soles. This time, however, the look of the lace-up sneakers is more classic and comes in four colors: black, white, green and pink. There are plans to launch new styles made from abaca, banana and bamboo.
“We were really supposed to launch back in April but because of the lockdowns and travel restrictions due to the pandemic, it was pushed back to late November,” Mike said.
The delay might actually work in their favor, as their online launch on Nov. 23 coincides with the start of Christmas shopping. On Nov. 26 to 28, the shoes will be available at the Katutubo PH x Bench popup at the Bench Tower in BGC.
When they hinted on their social media that they were launching new footwear from Lakat, they received a number of orders and inquiries.
The most popular color so far and the one probably sold out by now? Au courant pink.