Based out of Seattle, Washington, Jeepney is a well-established brand in the streetwear scene. Borrowing its name from the well-known public transportation vehicles found in the Philippines, Jeepney produces designs that are both artistically and culturally influenced. Today, you can find Jeepney’s range sold in popular online shops including Karmaloop, nationwide stores like Urban Outfitters, and many shops and boutiques around the world!
“…the true test is if you can last through the tough times, take valuable lessons from those times – and make sure to remember those lessons when things are going well again……..Or sell crack.”
BM: Could you state who you are and describe a little bit about yourself and your role at Jeepney?
KR: My name is Karlo Reyes and I am the founder/CEO and Janitor at Jeepney.
BM: When was Jeepney founded? What led you to start the brand?
KR: I owned a design firm before with some of the other owners of Jeepney in 2003 and we were hired to create tees for a company that was going to sell them at a local community festival in Seattle. The person that hired us backed out but we just decided to do the event instead since I already created all the designs. Though Jeepney had a Filipino based name – we wanted to show the world dope and creative apparel but still promote our heritage in a non cheesy way…thus the name Jeepney was born since it applied to the artistic elements as well. We ended up selling out of the tees and getting mad requests for reprints. We made a quick website and started selling online and it just snowballed after that.
Later that year, we then decided to gather up a team and make the business official. None of us had any fashion background but we had hunger and vision on our side. We did our first fashion tradeshow in Las Vegas early 2005, called POOL tradeshow with a lot of brands that you see now including Obey, RVCA, Tokidoki, 10 Deep, etc, etc. Back then, the industry wasn’t as fragmented since categories like “Streetwear” or “Hipster” weren’t popular yet)….That’s when it really changed for us – not just in sales but getting the advice of the other established designers was priceless.
In 2006, we started doing MAGIC tradeshow (largest apparel tradeshow in the US) and that’s when Jeepney became international and was brought into the streetwear world.
BM: Can you tell us how you came up with the name for the brand and what the meaning is behind it?
KR: The Jeepney is a mobile assemblage of signs and decorative motifs found along the streets of Metro Manila. After World War II, surplus American G.I. Jeeps were converted into public utility vehicles and decorated with lavish art and color with each owner’s individual, distinct look.
Today, Jeepney clothing has carried this same concept of expression into the apparel world. Our brand represents a unique style that is universal in appeal and crosses over into a diverse mix of genres in the global street culture market.
BM: Where do you get inspiration for your designs? Do you create the designs yourself or do you have a special team of artists?
KR: We get our inspiration from many places. Everything from pop culture to the staffs dogs gives us inspiration. I use to do more designs but these days I take on the Creative Director role and use a team of talented artists
BM: What are some of the most valuable lessons that you’ve learned since starting Jeepney?
KR: Pressure makes diamonds. Its easy and exciting to get your business going when everything is going well and your making lots of money, but the true test is if you can last through the tough times, take valuable lessons from those times – and make sure to remember those lessons when things are going well again……..Or sell crack.
BM: Are there any brands or artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
KR: We’ve done a lot of collabs already but I really want to do one with San Miguel beer. If you don’t know what that is, then your not cool. Just kidding – it’s a Filipino beer so if you’re reading this San Miguel beer executives – let’s do a collab Yo! (Free beer for me!)
BM: What can we expect to see from Jeepney this year?
KR: Scientifically proven sexiness. If you wear a Jeepney tee – you WILL get laid. (Hopefully by the preferred sex). Actually you will see some dope designs that no one is doing right now so just make sure to keep an eye out on our website.
BM: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for T-Shirt Magazine! Do you have any last remarks that you would like to make?