Co-Creating the Future of Handmade with Zapateria

Co-Creating the Future of Handmade with Zapateria

Zapateria Shoes NFT Marikina

Some say that breaking through the fifth year of a business is a major milestone. Others concur that upon reaching the sixth step on any uncertain path, one must express gratitude going as far. 2024 marks Zapateria’s 6th anniversary since we had our community launch back in 2018. Since then, our small hub has progressed into becoming a center for creativity and innovation that spearheads the development and preservation of shoemaking from one generation to the other. Despite the advancement though, we are still humbled by the experience of it all. 

As we take leaps and bounds to the next hallmark of our journey, we are taking a moment to look back and some of our most creative and innovative projects from 2023 that fostered a more collaborative and inclusive future for our growing community. 

Co-Creating the Future of Handmade

Marikina Shoes Zapateria

In the age of fast-paced lifestyles and cycling fashion trends, where swift digitalization paves the way for opportunities, one may wonder if there is still a place in the future for handmade tradition and craft. Like many customary livelihoods in the Philippines, the art of shoemaking survives today; mostly kept alive to thrive by home-run shoe shops scattered across Marikina City. While patronage and fanfare remains consistent, the hope for its longevity lies in passing the craft forward. 

With the hopes to present local design-craftsmanship to the world, Zapateria acknowledges the importance of innovation to nurture creativity and craft from one generation to another.  

An Artist's Legacy Exhibit: Celebrating the Legacy of Rico Sta. Ana

Headlining the campaign for tradition and innovation is a celebration of an artist’s legacy as Zapateria honors the life and creativity of their Chief Maker and 4th Generation Shoe Master, the late Rico Sta. Ana at the ArteFino Festival 2023. Since 2018, his designs have been annually spotlighted at various exhibits, with creations such as the most favored Leonor ladies’ pumps from his “Mok-mok” Skin-stitch collection and the everyday Yakap glove shoes being first debuted.

Rico Sta. Ana Zapateria Shoemaker

Grounded in his philosophy of sharing his love for shoes to all, Zapateria pays homage to his contributions to the community by making his creativity a beacon to pioneer holistic entrepreneurship. With this, a selection of his most iconic designs will be displayed at the festival including his favorite footwear concepts made during his time as Zapateria’s lead designer.

Tradition + Innovation: Crafting for the Modern Filipino

Highlighting the heritage and artistry of the intergenerational makers of Zapateria from the Philippine Shoe Capital, the exhibit features how traditional craft has evolved in the past few years and how it can also be integrated into the digital landscape so that more people can wear shoes with bold fitting pride. With the motivation to empower and encourage Filipinos to embrace their unique identities and culture, Zapateria invited them to experience and co-create the future of Filipino footwear by advocating support and patronage for locally made.

Crafting the Future of Personalization

As people today grow more diverse and expressive, many have opted to show their creativity in what they wear from head to toe. One of the strengths of the handmade nature of the Filipino shoemaking community is its capacity to offer custom made footwear to their patrons. “Pasadya” has been a staple for local makers for decades including Zapateria. Adding a sense of exclusivity to what they wear, a customer may opt to travel to the studio and personalize their orders to their own liking. With the help of technology, the experience can become more accessible and seamless for curious patrons.

Philippine Footwear Digital Customization - Zapateria

Launched in August 2023, Zapateria introduced its "Shoemaking-as-a-Service" through “Co-Create”, the first digital pasadya for handmade Filipino footwear. Zapateria offers the digital personalization platform for shoes wherein users can customize their favorite Zapateria designs.

Each customized pair will be crafted on a Made-to-Order basis, ensuring craftsmanship that is worth the wait. Through this, Zapateria aims to empower patrons to be part of the creative process and to have a say in what they choose to wear, confidently expressing themselves with unique and handmade collaborative creations.

For its debut, Co-Create opened with four customizable flagship shoe designs by Rico Sta. Ana and Zapateria including the Leonor pumps, Yakap glove shoes, classic Mary Janes, and Chelsea boots. The platform now live and accessible on Zapateria’s official website at

Crafting the Future of Bold Fitting Comfort

Much like the people who bare them, feet can come in different shapes and sizes. Ideally, a great pair of shoes can provide both style and comfort; although according to a study, almost 70% of the global population ends up wearing the wrong shoe size. Aside from the usual aches and strain, the cost of “tiis ganda” can lead to a variety of injuries in the long run. Whether it is through fitting multiple pairs at the mall or having to return the wrong size when shopping online, figuring out the right size may not be as simple as it may seem either.

Zapateria together with Aetrex Philippines brought an opportunity for the patrons of the ArteFino Festival 2023 to find out the best bold fit for their Filipino stride. Featured exclusively at Zapateria’s booth during the exhibit was Aetrex’s Albert 2 Foot Scanner, an accurate scanning technology designed to let users know their exact measurements and foot health needs.

Once a patron gets their feet scanned, they get access to a virtual profile that shows a record of their measurements that can be used in ordering shoes as a reference for the best recommended size along with suggested Orthotic insoles to help keep the spring in their step happy and healthy. 

Crafting the Future of Ownership

The future of handmade is made all the more secured with the utilization of the future of the internet. At the eve of the now developing Web 3, the digital landscape is heading towards diversification, inclusion, and protection. Through blockchain technology, there is an opportunity to further assure asset ownership while dignifying local artisan craft with credibility.

Shoes NFT Zapateria

Kicking-off its first run, Zapateria along with Web3 agency Likha, released an exclusive collectible NFT digital artwork that can be minted by patrons. Each minted NFT serves as a blockchain encoded record of the customer’s purchase, certifying their ownership of Zapateria shoes handmade by Marikina Makers.

Each patron receives the minted artwork titled: “The Creation of Leonor” along with their blockchain recorded proof of ownership. The artwork represents the renaissance of Filipino shoemaking with the integration of creative innovation to traditional craft.

Crafting Futures by Honoring Heritage

“Alab” is a collaboration between 4th generation shoe master Rico Sta. Ana and 2nd generation artist wood sculptor Charming Baldemor. Featuring four wearable art pieces of the Filipino Bakya, this project is an output of intertwining the artistry of the traditional wood sculpting of Paete and Marikina shoemaking. The collection depicts a meaningful study of design and craftsmanship, shedding light on the best work of each collaborating community of makers.  

Collaboration - Zapateria

Each art piece of the Alab Collection depicts central themes that are inspired by Filipino cultural and societal circumstances. Representing the fervor for hope and peace, the collection serves as the aspired future each creator has for their country.

The collection also serves as Rico's final project and is completed as a posthumous dedication to his legacy as a designer and master craftsman.

Co-Creating with the Community

Since its founding, Zapateria has been deeply rooted in ensuring that Filipino shoemaking can secure a fruitful and sustainable future for itself. With a strong line up of offerings that aim to present the dreams they have for the craft; from personalization, to sizing, to creative traceability and ownership, to ways of supporting local, the utmost intention is to inspire Filipinos to be part of the growing community.

Zapateria Marikina Shoemaking Community

 “Shoes are made by people for people, we hope that in the future, more will share our love for this craft and be proud to wear shoes that are specially made for them”.  - Glice Batulan, Zapateria Managing Director

The studio acknowledges and makes the most out of bringing tradition into the digital space while keeping its soul intact. With hope that through creative innovation, showcasing the future of handmade will draw further appreciation for the craft that has survived over a century and pave ways to pass it on from one generation to the next.

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