Jojo Bragais still proud to see work on national stage after Miss Universe exposure
MANILA, Philippines — Jojo Bragais has already been the official footwear provider in two editions of the Miss Universe pageant, which he said before was his ultimate dream when he built his brand. But he confessed he still feels “kilig” (excited) when his work graces the stage of national competitions.
“Yes, I feel so ‘kilig’ every time I get to showcase my work on a national stage. The experience each time is different. The design being showcased is different, has its own stories, and stories of how challenging it is for us to make the product development possible,” he told INQUIRER.net in an interview.
The Bicolano pageant heels maker said the experience is empowering, both for himself and his team. “I share the success of it with everyone under my team. This is my way of leading them to grow not just as an artist, but also as an individual,” he explained.
Recently, he sat in the judging panel of the 10th Misters of Filipinas pageant’s coronation show at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater in Circuit Makati. He has been partnering with the annual male competition, and released his new “mandiator” (gladiator sandals for men) design called “Valentin” for the contest’s 2023 edition.
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He said through his mandiators, he is “challenging the usual format by incorporating a pair of sandals that will look cool on men.” He observed before that candidates walked barefoot during the swimwear round of male competitions, whereas ladies walk in heels in pageants. Similar to stilettos, his men’s footwear line offers an extra boost in height, with soles that are two inches thick. Valentin’s black and white colorway, he said, also depicts how he perceives living, the gains and setbacks that go with pageantry, as well as the good and the bad experiences one has to go through in order to win in life.
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Bragais may have gained fame in the international pageant scene through his high heels for ladies, but he said he has always planned on making footwear for men when he started his brand. “When I started, I didn’t have money just yet, and doing a men’s line is more expensive to create, along with its product development,” he shared.
And years after he first produced pageant heels, Bragais said he has not hit on the breaks as far as building his brand is concerned. “I’m trying to learn, and offer something men can appreciate and use, but still aligned with the core of Bragais—height enhancing,” he shared.
But will he partner with the Miss Universe pageant for a third time? “It is still under negotiation. The decision is yet to be made. It’s a little late already, knowing that it’s going to be this November. But if not this year, maybe next year, or maybe some other shows,” Bragais shared.
He added: “I am working very hard to build my business structure, recruiting the right people and leaders in every department, and strengthen the science behind shoe making—importing technology that could make production faster and improving quality like the top brands in the world.” EDV