PROFILE: Thomas Filbert – Vratim (Drum Shoe)

Thomas Filbert – Vratim Drum Shoe

Between owning and operating Vratim (the company behind the Drum Shoe), playing in bands, and doing creative work for other bands and brands, Thomas Filbert is one of the busiest people I know in the music business. When you hear “a shoe company centered around drumming”, it might raise a few questions. However, it makes total sense to Filbert, plus the ~200 drummers that are endorsed by Vratim.

The first big name drummer Vratim started working with was Alex Rüdinger (Whitechapel), and since then, they’ve added drummers like Dirk Verbeuren (Megadeth), Pete Webber (HAVOK), Travis Orbin, Yesod Williams (Pepper), and Jocke Wallgren (Amon Amarth).

Josh Manuel (ISSUES) playing in the Vratim Drum Shoe II

Finding Inspiration

The idea for Vratim was an organic one, stemming from a familiar place for musicians: band practice. “During a practice session with an old band of mine, the drummer at the time played barefoot and managed to catch his toe in the pedal chain while playing. He explained that he didn’t wear shoes because they didn’t have the same feeling as playing barefoot. At this point the idea popped into my head that if there were shoes designed for sports, why couldn’t there also be shoes for drumming?

Filbert explains “professional athletes use specially designed shoes to aid and enhance their performance. From running shoes to basketball shoes to soccer cleats and even to skateboarding shoes, all of these shoes have been designed with the athlete in mind. The drummer plays a crucial role in a band and tends to have a much more athletically demanding performance. It only makes sense that a drummer should also use a shoe that aids and enhances their performance.”

Vratim Drum Shoe II

Creating a Culture Around Drumming

While it’s entirely possible to play drums in non-Vratim shoes, there is something charming about having footwear that signifies your passion. While you can probably skate in just about any flat, grippy shoe, the feeling of doing in a torn up pair of Vans is just that much cooler. The same can be said about wearing the Drum Shoe.

While Vratim isn’t sole-ly a shoe company anymore, the Drum Shoe is their flagship product. However, they have a new product, Kick Grip, which offers a mineral-free grip tape option for drummers looking to add a non-slip texture to their kick drum pedal. The Kick Grip isn’t gritty like a traditional grip tape, so it won’t tear through your socks, feet, or shoes.

On and Off The Stage

Besides operating Vratim, Thomas also plays guitar and writes music for Secret Keeper, a great rock band from Florida (as a co-producer for their band, I may be a little biased).

Keeping up with all of the duties of being in a touring band, plus running a shoe company can be a lot for one guy. However, thanks to the online nature of the business, it can be done.

“It can be a bit tricky at times, but owning your own business, especially an e-commerce business, does offer some latitude as to where you can run it from. When on the road, any free time I have when not driving or performing is spent working on business related projects such as: social media management, website management, and working on designs. The other benefit of being on tour is having the opportunity to network with people for the business as well.”

Filbert on stage with Secret Keeper / Photo by Steven Wang

Family and Heritage

Filbert’s family comes from Vietnam, specifically his mother’s side of the family, so having a product manufactured in Vietnam is a kind of full circle moment for him. “We chose Vietnam not only because of my family being from there, but also because Vietnam has taken huge steps in the last decade or so to become the best source for quality clothing and shoe manufacturing. When we visited factories we were pleased to see a focus on working conditions along with workmanship.” Vratim also released an awesome line last year for AAPI Heritage Month, which is another great way to celebrate their AAPI roots.

What’s coming next?

Now that touring is coming back, hopefully Vratim will be busier than ever, shipping shoes to more and more drummers around the world. We’re excited to see what Thomas cooks up next for our drummer community. In the mean time, check out the Drum Shoe II and throw in a Kick Grip with your order!

Visit Vratim’s Website HERE!

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About the Author: Adam Sliger

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I'm the founder of, and a producer, musician, and songwriter based out of Orlando, FL. I have 10 years experience producing and owning a commercial recording studio. I write and produce music for artists, TV, and for my solo project, Night Winds. When I'm not writing and recording, I'm into food, coffee, and riding rollercoasters!

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