Our Tribe, Hobo&Heelz, and Balat Mundo.

When I was in college and mullets were
not a joke, all the cool professors wore sandals from Our Tribe. Until now, it’s
the only brand of locally-manufactured leather goods I know that is consistent
in quality and in personality. The same sandal style those professors wore is
still available in their shops. The sling backpack they’re famous for remains in
the lineup. In the past two years they’ve been trying to get with it, offering
bags and sandals in surprising turquoise and white, in designs that straddle
Earth Mother and Urbanite. (If Suzanne Vega can do

A brand that I liked
(which as far as I know was only available at the Landmark) used unusual
combinations of shaped wood soles and leather uppers – strips of different
shades of leather, woven in and out of padded leather ovals and rectangles. Sate
is gone now. I miss them and I wish more people had been attracted to their
idiosyncratic take on sandals.

I want
Balat Mundo to live long and

can find Balat Mundo bags at the Fashion Village in Tiendesitas. They are
handcrafted, with a casual, almost ragged finish, and the leather is superb for
a local brand. There is nothing too trendy or too copied here, just a designer
with her own vision. (Her name is Twinkle Samson; I was told by the saleslady
that she’s the daughter of the owner of Otto Shoes, a brand familiar to every
grade school child.)

The bag that came home with me is in
distressed leather with an almost-photographic print of autumn leaves on the
front flap and the strap. It’s one of a kind, and reasonably priced.

Hobo&Heelz (I hope I got that name
right) is at Schuh, the newly-opened shoe store at the Greenhills tiangge. I
conclude from the way they shared shelf space that this brand is part of the
group that makes Le Donne, a Marikina stalwart found in most middle-class malls.
The Heelz part is all about sexy, glittery party heels: rhinestone-studded metal
stiletto heels under gold lame fabric, rhinestone fringe, crystal accents,
enough bling to distract fellow partygoers from your varicose veins and uneven
walk. The Hobo part is less likely to cause eyestrain, as you can see in the
above picture.