Cukui combines art and fashion

Cukui T-shirts photo by Erin Yasuda Soto/Nichi Bei Weekly

SAN JOSE — Orly Locquiao combines his passion for tattoo art and streetwear as the owner of Cukui Clothing Company, which opened in San Jose’s Japantown in August.

The store offers a broad range of urban apparel designed by Locquiao, who draws inspiration from his work as a tattoo artist at Humble Beginnings Tattoo Studio on West San Carlos Street in San Jose.

“We’re geared toward streetwear with an urban vibe,” said Locquiao, adding that the store carries many of the popular cut-and-sew T-shirts.

“I do all the illustrations myself,” said Locquiao, who is also responsible for printing them.

Locquiao’s wife Michelle, who is a co-owner, added that her husband’s T-shirt designs are inspired by his interest in the Pacific Islander and Japanese cultures.

“He specializes in Polynesian art. He incorporates Polynesian and Japanese influences,” Michelle Locquiao said.

Locquiao said the store caters to a mostly 40-and-younger crowd, offering a variety of styles.

“We have the loud and very bright colors and illustrations for those who want to stand out. And for the conservative shopper, we have the more traditional V-neck. We cater to both crowds,” he said.

Locquiao’s eye for design extends to his shop, which contains such features as a large boulder and waterfall.

“We follow the aesthetic of using different elements,” Locquiao said.

Started in 2008, Locquiao collaborates with Michelle, brother Jason and graphic designer Sammy Rodriguez to operate Cukui.

Locquaio added that he likes the Japantown location.

“It’s a nice, thriving little community. They’re very selective in their businesses,” he said.

Kathy Sakamoto, executive director of the Japantown Business Association, described Cukui as “young, international, and community-oriented. They had a great, community-friendly grand opening.”

Cukui Clothing Company is located at 229 Jackson St. in San Jose’s Japantown. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (408) 899-2768, e-mail info@cukui.com, or visit www.cukui.com.

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