A brand rooted in Filipino culture, Jeepney was founded in Seattle in 2003. The brand’s name, Jeepney straight from the Philippines, is also the most popular means of public transportation in the country. Revamped US military jeeps left over from World War II, today Jeepney’s are known for their flamboyant decoration and crowded seating and have become a symbol of Philippine culture. Karlo Reyes founder and creative director brings Jeepney to the world of streetwear.

“We like to use humor and with a deeper concept with most of our designs. We don’t like just putting an image on a tee and calling it a day.”

Format: Please state who you are and your role at Jeepney Clothing.
Karlo: I am Karlo Reyes and I am the founder and Creative Director of Jeepney.

Format: Give us a brief history of the line.
Karlo: I started Jeepney in 2003 when I did a few t-shirts for a community festival. I ended up selling out of all the tees so I decided to keep doing it. I brought on my business partner now, Rex Korrell late in ‘03 to help with the operations and the sales side and the rest is history.

The name Jeepney is from a bus/jeep in the Philippines in which each Jeepney has its own distinct look. We took that same concept and put it into the world of apparel. At the same time, the owners are Filipino so we wanted to represent the Filipino culture with something they could be proud of and not think was cheesy or corny.

Format: What is your background in design?
Karlo: I came from a Graphic Design background. I graduated from the Visual Communications Design program at the University of Washington and I had my own design firm when I was first starting Jeepney.

Format: Who are your key players and what are their roles?
Karlo Reyes: CEO and Creative Director
Rex Korrell: COO and the Sales Manager
Ramil Azucena: Graphic Designer
David Gavino: Graphic Designer
Alana Garcia: Marketing
Nicole Anselmo: Operations

Format: You’ve featured Jack Nicholson from The Shining. Why?
Karlo: Well, all of our designs have an underlined meaning to them, we like to use humor and with a deeper concept with most of our designs. We don’t like just putting an image on a tee and calling it a day. So for the Jack Nicholson tee, it’s the scene in The Shining where his head pops out of the door. But with our tee, he has gold fronts on his teeth and on the back, it says “Still Shinin.”

Format: You’ve featured The Pilsbury Doughboy wearing a cap and a handkerchief. Why?
Karlo: Just like the Still Shinin tee – the Doughboy tee is pretty conceptual (and funny – at least we think so!). If you recall in the movie, Boyz in The Hood, Ice Cube’s name is Doughboy. So we used the Pilsbury Doughboy and gave him Ice Cubes look from the movie and on the back, it says “I make dough but don’t’ call me doughboy” (which are lyrics from an Ice Cube song) in the Boyz In The Hood font.

Format: Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance rocks Jeepney. What other celebs rock your stuff?
Karlo: We’ve had a bunch of crews from Americas Best Dance Crew rock our stuff (Boogie Bots, So Real Crew), Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas, The Cool Kids, 106 & Park hosts, etc, etc. Sometimes, we’ll just catch people on TV wearing our shirts. We even saw Perez Hilton rocking a Jeepney shirt which was pretty funny.

Format: It says you’re 23 and from Seattle on your MySpace page, is that accurate?
Karlo: Naw, I’m not really sure why it says that. The owners are all in their upper 20’s to early 30’s. But a lot of our other staff are in their early 20’s so I guess that’s why it says that.

Format: What is it like to be a young business owner in the fashion industry today?
Karlo: These last few years have been a really exciting time to be in the fashion industry: the resurgence of street culture, the fragmentation of streetwear, the endless possibilities that the Internet has given the designer. I’m glad that I could witness it happening and be a part of it.

Format: The Jeepney is a result of World War II. Are you pro or anti-war?
Karlo: I would have to say I am anti war. I’m a pretty peaceful dude so no killing in the name of oil for me, please.

Format: What is your take on current political movement in the U.S.? How will this affect you as a young business owner?
Karlo: I think it’s absolutely and positively time for a change and I am all for Obama! I’ve always wondered how the hell anyone would have voted for Bush a second term before and I guess it took him completely ruining the country for all of America to see we needed change. Right now, for my business (the fashion industry) – the bad economy hits hard so any change and hope that Obama can bring is welcome.

Format: What makes Jeepney different from other brands?
Karlo: Honestly, Jeepney is different because we want to have a deeper meaning with every piece we come out with but yet still keep our sense of humor. We’re not afraid to take risks either which makes for a much more interesting brand. Plus we’re always trying to put some focus on the Filipino culture without having it just for Filipinos so that’s always on our shoulders as well.

Format: What does the future hold for Jeepney?
Karlo: For 2009, we are coming out with a lot of collaborations including Bijules, Karmaloop, Urb magazine, Antenna magazine and many more so keep a look out for some extreme freshness to come your way!

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Jules C

Latest posts by Jules C (see all)


    that’s word of mouth, on my blog, everywhere!
    keep it real.

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