Jojo Bragais, a young Pinoy shoe entrepreneur who famously outfitted the shoes of many local and international beauty queens and celebrities, has been officially announced by the Miss Universe organization as its latest partner for for the 69th edition of the pageant.
In its social media posts on Saturday, the Miss Universe organization referred to Bragais as its official footwear.
"All of our delegates walk with purpose, strength and in their own unique stride. Presenting the official footwear sponsor of the 69th MISS UNIVERSE competition Jojo Bragais, who empowers women to "Walk. Win." the MUO said on their Facebook page.
The announcement ends several weeks of speculations about Bragais’ next big role in pageantry, where he made a name for himself.
“I am grateful for the Miss Universe organization for the trust they have given Bragais. They made my dream possible by becoming the first Pinoy footwear partner for the pageant," Bragais told ABS-CBN News.
“We’re scheduled to leave late April for Florida for the pageant preliminaries preparations and to interact with the candidates. All the shoes to be used by the candidates should be transported in advance, ideally by May 5."
“Big deal talaga ito,” added Bessie Besana, project director of Bragais, citing the significance of another Pinoy achievement. “All of the shoes are proudly gawang Pinoy, crafted in Binangonan, Rizal by Filipinos.”
Bragais has prepared between 150 to 200 pairs of shoes for the 75 candidates.
“It will have options in color shadings to fit the candidates skin tones,“ added Besana. “It will also show the new face and style of Bragais shoes from its previous chunky platform look. Now it will be square with single straps; the heels will be pin-type, manipis ang takong. Ang pagkamolde ng sapatos, kahit four and half inches, komportable.”
Surprisingly, the Bragais-Miss U footwear line is called “Jehza ” inspired by Binibining Pilipinas Supranational 2018 Jehza Huelar-Simon who was the first to use the Bragais shoe design.
“Sobrang kinilig ako nung nalaman ko magiging bahagi ng Miss Universe ang shoes na ipinangalan sa akin," Simon, who is currently based in Davao, told ABS-CBN News.
“I may not be in the MU pageant physically supporting our representative, Rabiya Mateo, but I am happy to take part in her journey kahit yung shoes ko man lang nakasupport sa kanya, giving her the confidence she needs to win. Also it was never in my wildest dream or imagination that global beauties will wear a Filipino made shoe carrying my name."
Bragais is more famously known as part of the team of Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray but even way back, he had other muses in pageantry, including Binibining Pilipinas Supranational 2014 Yvethe Santiago who first requested him to do her shoes.
Binibining Pilipinas matriarch Stella Marquez Araneta took notice of his shoe design and since 2015 until now, Bragais is the pageant’s shoe provider.
“Sabi niya, ‘Sino’ng gumawa ng shoes mo? Parang maganda.’ Pinatawag nila ako, they said, ‘I like your shoes, but I want this kind of color for the girls… How do you like the idea of being our official shoe provider for the next year?” recalled Bragais in an ABS-CBN News interview.
“Noong una parang hindi ko siya binigyan ng atensyon, kasi akala ko joke-joke lang, akala ko parang bugso lang ng damdamin. Wala naman akong masyadong alam sa pageantry. Eventually noong ginawa ko na siya, ‘yung pagtanggap ng tao, sobrang bilis, sobrang laki.”
TV shows like “It’s Showtime”, national directors of foreign pageants followed suit along with international celebrities such as Tyra Banks, former Spice Girl Mel B, Bebe Rexha, and Dua Lipa wearing his creations.
His showroom in Scout Borromeo in Quezon City is also sought out by local and foreign customers
Insiders told ABS-CBN News it took nearly a month of legal process before Bragais came to terms with Miss Universe management who initiated the partnership.
The pageant had previously tapped Chinese Laundry Heels as its shoe provider. The pageant had also tapped Filipino US immigrant Olivia Quido-Co as its skin care partner since 2019.
As for Bragais, the Miss Universe is an unexpected harvest in his struggle to be become a better person after a dark period of depression years ago.
“If you’re heartbroken and feeling mo wala ka nang chance or nawalan ka ng direksyon sa mundo, or at some point parehas ko na you’re planning to take your own life — it’s not the end for you.Every ending has a new beginning. Sikapin mo lang mabuhay on a daily basis, kasi lahat ng bagay magiging okay," he told ABS-CBN News.
And now Bragais’ wish is no longer written in the stars. “Yung dream ko naman sa Bragais is actually to be a brand Filipinos can be proud of,” he said.
"There’s LV, there’s Gucci from other countries. Gusto ko, meron ding Bragais mula Pilipinas na everyone could be proud of, na talagang gawang Pinoy because everything is just made here.”