Art in fashion: Fun, functional and feasible

(FROM left) Mike Claparols, Lilian Manahan and Luis Espiritu in DAILY TRIBUNE’s ‘Pairfect’ show. | PHOTOGRAPH BY JAKE BAYAWA FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

Fashion, as a form of art, is often misconstrued as something fragile, preserved, or out of reach of the common folk; however, this concept has to progress with time.

The pandemic might have put plans on pause, but this did not stop creative minds from converging as couple Michael and Banj Claparols founded Lakat, a local and sustainable sneaker brand that turns pineapple fibers and tropical fabrics into fashionable and comfortable footwear that can take you to places that your heart desires.

Truly, the artisanal footwear brand has reached milestones within a short period of time, but this year, the brand made an exciting collaboration with three well-known creatives with the LakART series.

The LakART series is a collaboration with Dex Fernandez of Garapata, Russell Trinidad of Doktor Karayom and Liliana Manahan. This collaboration integrated the artists’ intricate and exquisite designs that will translate into low-cut or high-cut styled sneakers that will be suitable for everyone.

“This collaboration was to experiment and come up with something new… They breathed new life into Lakat,” Claparols said in a PairFect interview with DAILY TRIBUNE.

This historical artist collaboration was purposeful, representing an eccentric and vibrant approach to the traditional sneaker design while also celebrating the hard work and craftsmanship of local craftsmen in the country.

At the same time, DAILY TRIBUNE’s columnist and Lakat Sustainable’s creative director, Luis Espiritu, revealed that this collaboration of creating sustainable footwear and helping communities was years in the making.

“It was an easy yes, and because there were a lot of artisans involved, it inspires me to even think of ways and means through this brand to reach out to more in terms of design [and] fashion,” said Espiritu, adding that his career pivot allowed him to focus more on reaching out to artisanal communities and helping them gain [a] bigger audience and a bigger market.”

He added: “We really believed also in elevating an everyday wear into something that has probably more impact, more relevance and could mean something more than what it’s meant to be.”


The LakART series, which was launched at the Art Fair Philippines on 16 February, showed that art and fashion are “intrinsically intertwined,” allowing individuals to express their individuality and their sense of style.

“Fashion has always been downplayed by art or has never been considered an art form; it has always been put under the rug… We’re trying to make a statement here — that art is fun, art is functional, fashion and art combined is fun, functional and practical,” Espiritu said.

This fashion collaboration amplifies local craftsmen and their contribution to their communities, which is a long-running advocacy in Lakat.

Manahan, who has been passionate about integrating paper and metal sculptures into her design, applauded craftsmen for their talent and dedication in creating and producing quality work through the years.

“My heart is really to push the craftsmen here in the Philippines because we are super talented, but then I always want to expose the work. I think we’re doing a good job,” Manahan said.

Moving forward with this artist collaboration, Claparols has something much more in store for the brand and how it speaks volumes of how art and fashion in the Philippines are evolving into something that is more conscious and valuable: “I really do plan to transfer many of the production, to set up a facility in Negros to produce the major components of Lakat… We’re not only creating jobs there, but we’re also creating something sustainable.”