The Marikina shoe industry, which has been the biggest part of the city’s economy, is struggling to sustain operations amid the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Hoping to keep business afloat in challenging times, this Marikina-based shoe brand has stepped up to the plate by making sure that their local shoemakers are well-paid.
Godfather, known for their semi-bespoke leather footwear, takes pride in giving credit to the skill of their shoemakers who make every shoe by hand based on their client’s preferences.
“One of the things we’re very proud of is we pay our shoemakers well. While our products may be quite expensive, a huge portion of our earnings go to the sapateros (shoemakers),” Matt Lester Matel, head of Godfather’s Metro South branch, said in an interview.
The shoemakers as well as customers, he said, deserve to know that the company values their craftsmanship over profitability.
“We really want to put value in these shoes. We don’t want to treat them as just a commodity. Ang sukli sa amin (Our reward is), we get high quality products,” he added.
Founded in 2016 by Aaron Angeles, Matel said Godfather began as an idea that shoes can be personalized to a tee — customers can choose their preferred length, width, color for the shoe’s leather, sole, and midsole and also have their names engraved on the shoe’s undersides.
He said the goal is to produce shoes that are not just comfy and durable but also “finely-crafted” and “personalized.” The shoes’ wooden box can also be engraved with a name, a logo, or a message.
“The craftsmanship and the artisan spirit is really there. No one shoe is like the others. It’s like buying an artwork. It’s really high-quality and you will really be proud of what you’ve seen,” he said.
With these qualities, Matel said Godfather helps play a role in restoring faith in the once thriving Marikina shoe industry.
Private fittings, virtual meetings
Despite temporarily ceasing operations due to coronavirus-related lockdowns, Matel said their showroom employees and marketing teams have been pretty busy.
He said they shifted to the digital platform and reconfigure the work areas as safe spaces during the pandemic.
“We had to change how we operate. We needed to do private fittings. When you get to our store, you’re the client in the showroom,” he said, adding that their employees disinfect the showroom after customers leave.
Their showroom employees, he said, are also equipped with personal protective equipment to ensure everyone’s safety.
Customers, he said, may also have virtual meetings where they are assisted by employees in measuring their shoe size.
“Instead of an actual visit to our showroom, we do Zoom calls, Facebook Messenger calls where we show them our products and give them instructions on how to measure their feet properly,” he said.
Godfather also launched a two-month sale last July to August to cater to the pre-wedding season market.
“We’re seeing clients come back. Mostly, our clients are grooms-to-be and executives who normally wear dress shoes,” he said.
Matel admitted that the company experienced a dip in sales, but remains optimistic about strategizing around a new normal while taking advantage of opportunities that may arise.
“I think this pandemic is something we cannot discount but matatapos din naman to (this will eventually end). It somehow slowed the growth but in a years’ time, things will get back to normal. There would still be a demand for high-quality Filipino products. We hope to further expand and be known outside of the Philippines. There’s no way to go but up,” he said.
Godfather has four showrooms across the country — Marikina (main), Metro South (Parañaque), Pampanga, and Cebu.
Their premium-quality leather shoes take at least six weeks of work while prices start at P5,900 for rubber soles, and P6,900 for leather soles.