From Restoring Sneakers to Selling Shoes: The Story Behind This Local Sneaker Brand on the Rise

They're looking at collaborating with Filipino athletes and local artists soon.

PHOTO BY Finn Cotton ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

At a time when businesses are either bleeding or have completely shut down, Filipino sneakers brand Finn Cotton has—in so short a time—cornered quite a sizeable following, both in the lifestyle and sportswear markets.

The man behind this fast-rising startup started out in the sneakers business as one of the best shoe restorers and customizers in the country. When the pandemic hit, its founder—who goes by the name Paul—pivoted to e-commerce. When that, too, clicked, it gave Paul enough momentum and confidence to chase his dream of launching his own sneakers brand.

The Proxima Centauri line 
PHOTO BY Finn Cotton
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"Before the pandemic talaga, we were known as one of the best sneaker restorers and customizers in the country," Paul says. "When the pandemic hit, I decided to pivot my focus into e-commerce. Sobrang nag-boom e-commerce during the pandemic. At first, we were selling anything under the sun. Basta maganda at mabenta.

"Then we realized, now that we were getting good at selling things online, why not fulfill our dream of having our own brand? In September 2020, Finn Cotton was established."

In no time, Finn Cotton sneakers became popular online. The designs, which were mostly outsourced, appealed to a cross section of the market. The sneakers are also affordable, with prices ranging from P2,999 to P9,000.

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It helped that well-known personalities, among them content creator Douglas Brocklehurst, actor Ace Zabarte as well as TV and sports commentator Chiqui Reyes, helped in promoting the brand. Soon, the Finn Cotton Facebook page was filled with unboxing videos by top athletes.

"We started selling one design lang. Nagulat kami sobrang bumenta s'ya kaagad," Paul says.

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In just its seventh month, Finn Cotton shoes are selling briskly online via their website and other platforms. Finn Cotton became one of the sponsors of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 46 Rookie Draft. Joshua Torralba, RK Ilagan, Santi Santillan, Alec Stockton, Jerie Pingoy and Anton Asistio were among the draft hopefuls who wore Finn Cotton shoes during their Big Day.

"Sobrang bilis and sobrang thankful kami kay God kasi binigyan kami ng opportunity na makilala brand namin," Paul says.

As popular as it is now, Finn Cotton is just beginning. Paul says the next goal is to make the brand 100% Filipino made, which it is set to achieve by the third quarter of 2021. They also aim to make signature sneakers via collaborations with Filipino athletes and local artists.

Opening physical stores is also part of the plan, as well as tapping players who will wear their shoes during Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and University Athletic Association of the Philippines games.

Connor 1.0 pairs feature more vibrant colorway options. 
PHOTO BY Finn Cotton
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There's a certain type of players that Paul wants to tap as endorsers; the unheralded, blue-collar type who he said can really identify with the brand.

"We want to focus on players na di masyado nabibigyan pansin ng big sponsors pero kita 'yong hardwork and determination sa kanila," the Finn Cotton founder says.

"Someone [who] represents the true Pinoy na sobrang hard-working talaga and matiyaga. 'Yon ang mga gusto namin i-represent. And hopefully with our support, they eventually get that opportunity to be big in their industry."

The ultimate goal, according to their founder, is to make Finn Cotton one of the top sneakers brands in Asia over the next five years.

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