We always strive to improve our service by experimenting with materials and designs. We do not try to reinvent the wheel by creating an entirely new method of shoe construction (although I do try from time to time) but instead focus on how we can improve our existing methods to give it that extra feature that you wouldn’t think that you needed. Shoemaking in Marikina is often characterized by limited access to materials, but that has caused local artisans to be more creative and come up with their own versions of imported/global designs, crafted by hand. We recognize this and are proud of what we can do with purely locally available materials which also results in great custom shoes.
Back in 2014, we introduced our Luna outsoles. The Luna outsoles were crafted rubber EVA outsoles shaped into three ribs, Blake stitched, then sealed with a rubber gumsole. This style is inspired by the original Cole Haan Lunargards but since we do not have access to the Nike outsoles and did not want to use the commercially available knock-off soles from China, we decided to sculpt our own. Each layer is individually sculpted then stacked on each other creating that “ribbed” look. This was our first truly original creation. The rubber EVA midsole acted like a cork which eventually molded to the wearer’s foot as it is used more. I have had my personal pair for four (4) years now and is usually one of my weekend shoes.
A little over a year ago, we introduced the Carasole into our main lineup. The bendsole made from carabao hide was traditionally shunned because of its toughness and more difficulty to polish. We then tested and developed in-house methods to polish the Carasole properly and prevent the “swelling” problem by taking the extra time to seal the bendsole from the side. We supplemented this process by adding free servicing so we can fix the worn outsoles and give it a coat of polish. We also added a variety of sole protectors from basic rubber sole protectors to upcycled tires.
This year we are reviving an old initiative and then updating it with what we have learned from using various materials. For our regular clients, you might have noticed that we have stopped offering rubber outsoles since the last quarter of 2017. This was due to the original supplier giving us a bad batch and we had to initiate a warranty program to resole all rubber outsoles (brown newlite outsole with a pebbled finsih) which often cracked and it cost us so much to resole for free and use a traditional bladder (airsole) outsole. The supplier refused to compensate us thus we stopped offering our traditional rubber outsole. Last year, we pushed for the Carasole which is sturdier and surely wouldn’t break. It performed really well especially for formal and business shoes with it toughness and slim profile. Recently, we made it a standard to offer all our shoes with a basic rubber sole protector to extend the service life of the shoes by not letting the outsoles get worn out but instead, just replacing the sole protector every time it gets worn out. This has worked out really well and also had the added benefit of adding grip to the shoes and a slight noticeable “bounce” which helps when you walk a lot in them. This year, we will be offering rubber outsoles made from the same materials as our Luna outsoles. These outsoles will be made from the same premium EVA and will be finished in a similar fashion as our leather based outsoles.
The base outsole will be EVA and the heel can be a choice of the traditional marine plyboard heel or stacked EVA heels. My personal test pair uses a stacked EVA heel wrapped in leather “stackheel” to give it that leather look. The EVA is also painted brown to give it a darker finish to make it look better from the sides. The outsole is still Blake stitched then sealed with a rubber sole protector. Aside from protecting the outsole, this gives the the shoe added water resistance since the sole protector seals the Blake stitching and given the water resistant properties of EVA, the only way for water to enter the shoes now would be when the upper gets over saturated with water via rain or submersion. This configuration also makes the shoes very lightweight and comfortable to walk in.
As I said in the beginning of this piece, we need not reinvent the wheel but we can make it better and adapt it for the modern market. EVA has not been traditionally used since the days of Gregg Shoes and while the formulation for their EVA outsoles have long been lost, we can create new ones using modern materials merged with traditional artisanal skills. With the right balance of bounce, support, durability, and aesthetics, this new implementation of modern materials with traditional construction methods ticks off all the check boxes of basic requirements of everyday beater shoes for casual and work use with the benefit of custom fitting and design.