Putting your best sustainable foot forward

Published November 22, 2021, 2:06 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

The ‘word of the year 2021’ of different authorities have been declared, with ‘vax’ (Oxford English Dictionary) and ‘perseverance’ (Cambridge Dictionary) leading the winners. And if there’s a word that both Oxford & Cambridge would agree on, it would be how ‘sustainable’ is one of the buzzwords of the year—with almost all retail, corporate, and poltical organizations finding ways to weave ‘sustainable’ into their equity, DNA, and identity.

As it is, it’s sometimes difficult to see the ‘trees for the forests’, and to recognize how the smaller retail brands will find ways to make sustainabilty count, as they launch their marketing initiatives—some retail brands will inject the most minor of sustainable aspects, just to be able to join the bandwagon. And that why it’s still rewarding to scratch the surface, and see how holistic and organic a brand’s sustainability equity truly is.

Mike and Banj Claparols, who are behind LAKAT Sustainables

LAKAT Sustainables was just launched this year by Banj and Mike Claparols, and as enviro-social entrepreneurs, it can best be described as a ‘woke’ sneaker brand, promoting the use of eco-friendly, ethically-sourced and produced hand-woven pineapple and cotton fibers and fabrics. Collaborators involved in developing the LAKAT brand and its first line of sneakers include CITEM, DTI, DOST-PTRI, and communities of farmers from Negros and Mindanao.

As a brand name, LAKAT is paying homage to the Ilonggo roots that bore the concept and its products. As Banj and Mike explain, “Handloom weavers of the fabrics, source of the fibers, and way of life of the people of Negros, are valuable elements that made LAKAT what it is today.” And this all began in 2017, when Banj and Mike were introduced to sustainable textile technologies through DOST-PTRI’s Technology Business Innovation Program.

LAKAT Sneakers, as high top or regular footwear, are 100% Philippine-made, using sustainable materials. The pineapple fibers are sourced from discarded leaves—extraction made using solar power, to achieve a lower carbon footprint. Local weavers in Negros and Mindanao then get in the picture, inspiring a sustainable value chain.

These pineapple fibers are water repellant, handwoven by Kabankalan weavers of Negros. The insoles are made of 100 percent non-woven pineapple fabric, the outsoles using rubber locally farmed in Mindanao. And to further reduce waste, these soles are mixed with pineapple cotton fibers discarded from the yarning process.

The brand makes an effort to minimize waste and honor the weaving traditions of its tribal community makers, so only limited production runs are made. Pre-orders are welcomed, with three weeks lead time before delivery. Stocks are made available in batches, hence this reliance on pre-orders for now. Designs and colors are inspired by current street style tastes, and there’s a universal style standard being reached for.

I currently use a low cut Olive pair, and it’s been comfortable to the max, and I’m glad to own a LAKAT pair, a pair of sneakers that carries a powerful message of sustainability, and going local with conscience and direction. Kudos to both Banj and Mike for putting such thought into their brand and their concept of retail.

To learn more about LAKAT and to support the brand, follow them on IG @lakatsustainables, and on FB: LAKAT.