The team at clothing brand Sago will welcome its first store location near downtown San Jose on Feb. 17.
The brand started off as an idea while conversing during a night out at Nomikai social food + drinkery in San Jose.
Janibert Acio and Brian Hwang, both having passions for West Coast vintage streetwear, realized they shared the similar goal of starting their own clothing brand.
“We were out downtown one night, and I was talking with my friend Kevin Jude about starting a clothing brand,” Acio said. “My good friend Brian [Hwang] happened to overhear the conversation and said that he was trying to start one too, so we agreed to do it together since we are both into fashion.”
“We had another friend, Randy Truong, who started a clothing brand already, called Illiminate, and after seeing his success we knew it was possible,” said Hwang. “I was in my last year of college at CSU East Bay…at a point in my life where I had a lot of time on my hands.”
After figuring out that they shared the same dream, the two friends agreed to work together to bring their dreams to fruition.
“Clothing is something that we’re both passionate about so after we agreed to do it together, we started making moves,” Hwang said.
From their trendy designed stitch hats to stylish staple linen shorts, Sago has a blueprint that caters to modern style in a fresh, unique way.
“A lot of street brands around here, they just make screen print shirts, or just throw a logo on the shirts,” said Hwang. “Whenever we design something we try to make actual pieces. We use cut and sew so our streetwear is more into the fashion realm.”
Another thing that makes their brand different from some other local brands is the message they have for youth, and their push for people to chase dreams.
“A big thing for us, which is our slogan, is to push the culture. We’re both minorities, I was born in Korea, and Janibert was born in the Philippines. We both moved to the US around the same time in the early 00s, and living in this generation we were forced to do things like go to school and pursue careers as a nurse, engineer or doctor,” Hwang said. “We want to push our culture in streetwear and clothes so that the next generation of kids can see that you don’t have to follow that path. You can follow your passion and be successful without having to work a nine to five.”
The clothing store will also have a barbershop, something that the co-owners felt paired well with a clothing store.
“My brother’s best friend, Dice Suzuki, who I’ve known for over 10 years, he’s been cutting my hair since I was in high school,” said Hwang. “He’s always been saying that he wants to add stuff to the table and help us out. Me and Janibert came up with the idea to open a barbershop with Dice because we feel like haircuts and clothes go hand in hand. You go to a barbershop to look good, so we really looked at the business aspect of that.”
The co-owners decided that they needed more hands on deck so they brought along Tristan Custodio as the VR and marketing manager, Khoung Do for the back-end logistics, Dice Suzuki as the for the barbershop and Marvin Eribe (who started off as an intern and eventually made his way onto the team).
Already having a following, the guys have big plans for what they want to accomplish within San Jose’s community.
“Dice is planning on doing educational classes for a bunch of local barbers since there’s such a big barber community in San Jose,” Hwang said. “Another thing we’re planning on doing is a show where we are giving out free tips on how to start a clothing brand because we get DMs all the time asking that. We really like interacting with our customers and meeting everyone who supports us.”
Although in the current clothing retail climate, online sales are the main avenue for purchases, the team has ways to pursue people to come to the store.
“With the store being open we will have exclusive drops,” said Hwang. “You can buy most of our stuff online but we will have store exclusives just for San Jose. We hope to shine a light on San Jose and show others that we’re not just known for being a tech capitol but we also have fashion too.”