Step into these vegan shoes

Published January 13, 2022, 3:00 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Filipina breathes life into vegan brand pushing style, sustainability, and local production amid the pandemic


Despite the erratic delays in production due to the rough effects of the pandemic, one innovative entrepreneur determinedly pushed on with her dream: to produce vegan shoes to empower the ever-evolving Filipina.

Kat Padilla, 24, established Sebastian & Savannah as “a conscious posh label as passionate about reshaping modern fashion as it is about sustainability and local production.”

With her emerging brand, she wishes to provide stylish footwear at an affordable price point for the everyday woman’s wardrobe—all while utilizing vegan leather, plant-based cruelty-free sustainable material, which mimic genuine leather.

It was not a smooth journey. The Filipino-Chinese Slim’s Fashion and Arts School alumna and Fashion Design and Merchandising major at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde encountered various production difficulties.

“Four to five skilled artisans worked on our collection. But with lockdowns and quarantines being implemented, we abided by the rules for the safety of everyone, making us stop production or work with a skeletal system,” she says.

She quickly adapted to the new world and even redefined her workflow. “The pandemic affected how I communicated with my various suppliers. I no longer meet them face to face. Now I talk to them via Zoom or chat with them through the various messaging apps,” she reveals.

Sebastian & Savannah Designer Kat Padilla

With this shift in almost everything we do, she has likewise learned to switch gears at a snap of a finger. “Always observe what works for you and what’s not, to easily swerve to the right direction,” she says. “Time and money is really important these days, that’s why we can’t afford to bet on something that’s not working or benefiting us.”

The brand carries several series of shoes, such as The Pilot, The Krokodille, The Ofélia, The Ingrid, and a selection of heels, all in various well-curated colors.

Today, the brand currently carries several series of shoes, such as The Pilot, The Krokodille, The Ofélia, The Ingrid, and a selection of heels, all in various well-curated colors.

From a creative and entrepreneurial household, Padilla’s biggest inspiration is her family, who provides her with unconditional support, no matter what. “Another thing that drives me is my passion and love for my craft,” she says. “I get so excited when my designs come to life. It’s a fulfilling feeling seeing your works out in the world, making women happy and empowering them. This is really something I look forward to doing to my heart’s content.”

ECO-SHOES Margrethe in white and brown

She enjoys the development process the most. “It takes so long to get it right—from designing, sampling to manufacturing—and it’s so gratifying when we really nail a project,” she admits. “The fulfilling feeling when you see your ideas come to life, when people buy and say good reviews about your products and of course when known establishments feature your brand in magazines or articles. It’s just priceless.”

On her rest days, Padilla usually cooks, bakes, paints, plays the piano, or designs pieces she compiles for future projects and collections. But looking forward to the future, she eyes Sebastian & Savannah’s expansion with upcoming partnerships and products.

Asked for advice to aspiring designers, she says, “Create something different. You won’t stand out if you offer the same as everyone else. You can’t just focus on one aspect of the business. You need to be knowledgeable in all. Build connections with inspiring people and be an inspiration yourself.”