On the heels of his recognition for the second time, as one of the finalists of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) and the Philippine Footwear Federation Incorporated’s (PFFI) annual Filipino Footwear Design Competition, Joel Wijangco is set to take the world of shoe design by storm, with his entry as an official representative of the Philippines in the upcoming International Footwear Design Competition in Guangzhou, China.
His winning entry this year, which will be sent to the international competition in China is “Sister’s Favorite”. It is a provocative and cheeky design, which is inspired and dedicated to the designer’s sister, a teacher working in Japan. Upon hearing news that his sister’s cancer had come back, Wijangco created the shoe to tell her story and to capture the moments they shared over a bowl of ramen.
Story-telling through shoe design is at the heart of his design philosophy. “A lot of the narratives are rooted in childhood memories and feelings. But some are also aspirational, some try to connect to a feeling or a shared story,” Wijangco stated.
“I try to make sure all the designs are fit for utility. The most recent one may have had no heels but heelless shoes have been around for a while now — you’ll find fashion forward icons such as Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, and Daphne Guinness wearing them and happily trotting about in them,” he elaborated.
Wijangco uses traditional and non-traditional materials in his “Sister’s Favorite” shoe design. He has worked with other shoemakers but it is his collaboration with Tawong Lipod, a special effects and prosthetics company, that he felt most excited about. “Cari Dawn Conejero, its founder, has been a joy to work with, a kindred soul definitely. Together, we created the shoes from resin, rubber, and plastics, with a fiberglass-coated metal shank imbedded in its sole,” he added.
Through his avant-garde shoe designs, Wijangco hopes to help boost the local shoe industry, “I think provocative designs help bring attention to the industry. Especially designs that are unequivocally global in its approach.”
With a passion for creative expression, Wijangco who is also an operations manager for a business process outsourcing company, first delved into writing stories until he serendipitously found his calling for designing footwear and accessories.
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