Marikina in Metro Manila alone has tons of online and brick-and-mortar stores selling the finest leather bags and shoes. While the city has struggled somewhat with the arrival of cheap shoes and bags made from China, its handcrafted products still hold appeal over customers who value well-made goods.
From wallets to shoes and handbags, here are some of the country’s best suppliers of carefully crafted leather items.
Unlike other companies based in Marikina, Astrid is not involved in the shoe or bag-making business. Instead, it produces well-crafted clutch bags, passport holders, cellphone cases, wallets, and keychains, among others.
So, what’s so good about them? Customization. Here, customers get to choose the type of leather to be used on their products.
It’s a pretty straightforward process: Choose the product type and style, wait a few days, and voila! The leather piece is ready. Astrid can also emboss the order with a monogram, which is ideal for those looking for gifts for special occasions.
The brand does not have a physical store, but all orders can be sent to their website.
Artisanship is at the core of this label, which sells genuine leather bags made and stitched by hand. Owned by the husband-and-wife team of Ruben and Tina Flores, each bag is made by a small team of four.
It’s hard to mistake their products for other labels because each of their bags comes with a unique wooden tag where an identification number is written. Their bags don’t come with linings, which the owners don’t think hold up well to the wear and tear of everyday use. They don’t have zippers, either — but the well-thought-out designs make up for that.
Aside from making handbags, they also have wallets, passport holders, and billfolds — all made of leather, of course.
You can purchase their products through their website, which also takes international orders.
For Sunday brunches or a trip to the flea market, Cocooni’s bags are the ideal combination of size, shape, and stylish utility. Made of genuine cowhide leather, they’re made for those who love to welcome the weekend in style. What’s more, they can also personalize items, which makes a great gift for clients or friends.
Shop through their website here.
This homegrown Marikina shoe label was founded after its owner, Aaron Angeles, ditched his 9 to 5 job to embark on the adventures of entrepreneurship. Baffled as to why many of his hometown’s shoe brands have been forgotten, Angeles realized branding and marketing were missing.
Speaking to Spot.ph, Angeles said: “We thought of a brand wherein the logo and the name would create an impact not only here in the country. Even if you brought it outside of the country, it would be at par with international brands.”
Angeles then came up with a name that he feels would resonate with everyone — Godfather. The shoes, which were prettified using a special coat of paint, come in classy boxes made of wood, which customers can have engraved with a logo or even a message.
Their prices start at PHP5,700 (US$106.91) which isn’t bad considering that other luxury brands with the same styles charge much more than that. You can visit their website to shop.
Produced in Laguna, this is a social enterprise whose employees are people with disabilities. Their artistry enables the company to offer handcrafted leather goods.
This includes the EDC or Everyday Carrying bag, a multi-purpose thingamajig which could serve as a laptop, camera, or diaper bag.
Buying their products won’t just make you look good, you’ll help other people too.
Handcrafted by Harl’s is at A. Venue Hall, 7829 Makati Ave, Makati, Metro Manila
What does that mean? Full grain leather comes from the top layer of an animal’s hide which contains all of the grain. Top grain meanwhile is removed from the top layer then sanded to remove blemishes.
Whichever is used though, fashionistas will be impressed with the brand’s products, which are sold at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall.
Unlike other brands which outsource production, all of their bags are designed and produced in-house to ensure that they are worthy of a place in anyone’s closet.
This shoe brand is one for the fierce and fashion fearless. Check out the metal-studded shoes in one of their collections, called 7 Monarchs of Hell, which they named after demons. Or take a peek at their winged Tokyo Ghoul shoes, which was inspired by a centipede.
Made for those who want to take style risks, their handmade Marikina products are a case study into what wearable high fashion should look like. To see more of their shoe designs and make a purchase, visit their store in Marikina or check out their Facebook account.
What started out as an RTW label has morphed into a leather goods brand selling totes, travel bags, belts, wallets, and even bag charms.
Named after its founder, Katre produces products comparable to luxury brands using high-grade leather. Their products follow simple aesthetics and eschew big logos.
From backpacks to sling bags, their products are ideal for people who want to look good in an understated way. You can buy their products at Styled Pop-up Store at Shangri-La Plaza mall or on their website.
Blending comfort, craftsmanship, and style, Lupe Saenz was founded by a shoe-loving economics professor by the name of Stella Quimbo.
Quimbo wanted to help the ailing Marikina shoe industry, which was threatened by cheap, machine-made imported shoes. Lupe Saenz, established in 2012, was her way of providing jobs for the city’s shoe artisans.
Lupe Saenz was first made available two years ago at Bonne Bouche in Greenbelt 5 in Makati, but that store has closed down.
Quimbo told Coconuts Manila in 2014: “I became homeless and have since decided to retreat back to Marikina where it really all started. Primarily, I want to be closer to the makers. I have also decided to go online, which has a far greater reach than a single store.”
A quick look at their website shows a slew of well-thought off designs that would impress even Carrie Bradshaw: There’s the Amara, snakeskin pointed pumps with padded lining, and the Nina, suede leather closed pumps which would look good with a little black dress.
To browse the selection and make purchases, visit their website here.
Lupe Saenz‘s show room is at 124 M.A. Roxas St., Marikina City
A relatively newcomer in the leather making business, Marked was founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Mark Ngo. Based in Ngo’s home, Marked is known for its carefully constructed leather envelopes, satchels, and totes. They don’t have a brick and mortar shop but customers can order through their Facebook account.
Named after the city of Marikina, Marquina is a brand that aims to showcase the talents of highly skilled veteran artisans to a new audience. Offering ladies and men’s shoes, Marquina sells boots, oxfords, loafers, and flats. They only sell bespoke merchandise so be sure to give them enough time to create your chosen pair.
Marquina Shoemaker is at 7635 Guijo St. Makati
Phone: (02) 752 0194
Made by Marikina’s artisans, Ni Qua’s products are mostly classy, timeless designs that would look just as good next to big-label imported handbags. Owned by Bunnie de Guzman, its products are made by Marikina’s artisans using raw materials sourced mostly from the Philippines.
It offers several stylish designs but it also gives customers the choice to change the styles into something that suits their taste — whether in terms of color or the material used.
But perhaps what is most impressive about Ni Qua is their commitment to helping the community. Instead of disposing of their leather scraps, they upcycle them and turn them into new bags, called Scartre.
Interested? Shop by visiting their official website. Shipping is free.
Guys looking for classy looking briefcases — Mono has what you seek.
Choose from a multitude of colors and sizes, all of which come at relatively reasonable prices than imported labels.
What’s more, they also have stylish leather handbags that are suitable for professionals with a more laissez-faire approach to style. To get your hands on their beautiful merchandise, visit their website here.
Dapper and preppy is how the S.O.S. wants to describe itself. And we have to agree — their satchels, body bags, and tote bags were designed to be must-have style pieces that are versatile enough for everyday wear.
Their products are made of a mix of full grain and top grain leather, so customers end up having classy pieces without breaking the bank. Visit their website to view the product range and purchase.
Fourth floor East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City
The Refined, 2nd floor Fort Point II Building, The Fort Strip, BGC, Taguig
This brand’s bags look so good that they could be mistaken for those big European-made labels. Established in 1901, the company was started by a group of leather artisans who first produced leather crafts for other companies, with some of them being exported abroad.
In 2007, these craftspeople founded The Tannery, which is now known in the metro for its classy handbags. While their backpacks, briefcases, tote bags, and clutch bags are more expensive than other local brands, their sophisticated finishes are enough to convince serious shoppers that they’re worth the investment. To shop, visit their stores at Shangri-La Plaza mall in Mandaluyong, Glorietta 1 in Makati, and at UP Town Center in Quezon City. Their products are also available on their website for purchase.
Ground floor, Glorietta 1 in Makati City
Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City
2nd Floor, Phase 1B, UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Diliman, Quezon City
Using environmentally friendly materials, the Leather Collection creates body bags, pen cases, body bags, and wallets, among others. What makes this brand stand out is that they employ women weavers from Palawan to create their products. This brand is ideal for corporate giveaways, so give them a call if you’re on the lookout for something leather-made that you’re planning to give during the Christmas holidays.
10 La Fuerza Compound, Alabang-Zapote Road, Las Piñas City
Phone: (02) 842 2261
Sapatero is known for their handmade brogues, many of which have enamored stylish Filipino men. Who could blame them, as the brand has made many a Filipino guy look spiffy with their products, with their use of calfskins and tanned leathers from France, Italy, and England.
The Marikina brand initially set out to restore the local shoe industry to its former glory, said its co-owner, JR Jader. He told men’s fashion website Esquire Philippines: “[S]eeing a lot of shoe brands have been popping up in recent years, the mission is slowly starting to be fulfilled. It’s also a good sign that more and more Filipinos are starting to support homegrown brands, and are being more discerning in terms of the material, construction, durability of their shoes.”
Now that their mission has been fulfilled, Sapatero is looking to go global. Said Jader: “We always aim to be a standard of quality footwear not just in our home country, but also throughout the world.” All things considered, they just might succeed.
Suit it Up Manila, L&R Building, Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City
Felipe & Sons, El Pueblo Real de Manila, Julia Vargas cor. ADB Avenue, Ortigas
Felipe & Sons, 122 LPL Mansion, San Agustin street, Salcedo Village, Makati
Phone: (02) 919 524 8259
Another Marikina-made brand, Signo doesn’t just offer custom-made men’s shoes. They also sell bespoke suits. How’s that for making sure that the customer doesn’t leave empty-handed?
Thanks to their artisans, this one-stop shop is not just a favorite of Philippine-based customers but is also sought-after by overseas-based Filipinos. From closed-laced Oxfords to Monks with buckles and straps, loafers, brogues, and Chukka boots, they’ve got a good selection of products that men passionate about dressing up would want to have.
1508 Didache Bldg, Suite 201, España Avenue Manila
Phone: (02) 9202805469
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2018, but the Coconuts crew is bringing it back from the archives since the information it contains remains relevant and useful. Rest assured, we’ve reviewed and updated it to make sure this oldie but goodie will still serve you well.