Imagine you got everything your seven year old heart ever wanted. A rescued bunny named Gigi, a plushy pink Uglydoll, ’80s aerobics-esque dumbbells, Scandinavian rugs in rainbow colors—that’s Martine Cajucom’s closet right now.
Cajucom is the brains and brawn that elevated a sub-brand—Sunnies by Charlie, under the Charlie retail brand founded by friends-now-family Bea Soriano and Eric Dee—into a cultural juggernaut that is followed, liked, shared, envied, adored, and imitated by a target market most brands will only ever aspire to reach: the social media millennial. The perfect pastels, the retro vibe, the cheeky self-awareness—the branding is 100 percent Martine Cajucom, and, thus, 100 percent damn cute.
Just like Sunnies Studios, “cute” is the operative word in Cajucom’s closet. It’s such a relief to see the closet of a fully grown woman stocked with baby tees, dinosaur prints, and furry sweaters that’s as if to say, no, we don’t really have to grow up if we don’t want to. Pieces from her childhood, such as petticoats, tulle, and the ever-present pink, have never quite gone away: “I’ve always loved things that are a little more nostalgic,” she shares. “Miyazaki forever, Studio Ghibli stuff. Obviously I love Sailor Moon. She was my first style icon, along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve always liked dorky, post-feminist girl figures in pop culture.”
Which is why, of course, so many of Cajucom’s clothes come from vintage shops or emerging designers. The seriousness of most fashion houses just doesn’t mesh with Cajucom’s style, save for, say, the vintage styling of Miu Miu or the poppy colors of Marni. “Makati Cinema Square has really good stuff. I’m really surprised it’s so under-utilized. I found amazing-fitting Versace jeans for, like, P90,” she explains, pointing out that even the shoots for Sunnies are styled with mostly vintage items. Instead, Cajucom sports separates from Australian labels like Alice McCall or Finders Keepers, pin-up swimwear with dangerously high tanga cuts from local brands like Eve the Label or Boom Sason, satchels and backpacks in soft leathers from Mansur Gavriel or A.P.C., and low-heeled sandals by búl in every “baby” shade there is. She’s not an easy customer—Cajucom always stays true to who she is, whether it means mixing eight different lipstick shades together to find the perfect one, or expanding the Sunnies brand into a café concept or prescription eyewear.
The biggest injustice, really, is that this discerning eye tends to be dismissed as nothing more than childish whim, fueled by likes and celebrities. In the same way that her wardrobe is cute, it’s also provocative, daring, instinctive: Cajucom is no pushover. Her flair for marketing and intuitive approach to business won her a well-deserved Entrepreneur of the Year award by the SGV Foundation and the Department of Trade and Industry, and a legion of dedicated fans who love pink—just like her.
Are there any new or emerging designers who have surprised you as of late?
Locally, I’ve been loving what Carl Jan Cruz is doing. His aesthetic and silhouettes are so original.
Are there any graphic designers or visual artists who have caught your eye locally or internationally?
I love reading interviews from Petra Collins. I love her zero pretense.
What was your last great purchase? How about your most memorable one?
Last great purchase was the Mansur Gavriel peony Crossbody. I can never resist simple small leather bags, and if it’s in pink, it’s game over. Greatest purchase were $3 vintage Calvin Klein jeans about 5 years ago that I still wear once a week.
What is one thing you have way too much of, but you keep buying anyway?
Black bodysuits. I have one in every cut and fabric imaginable.
Which pair of Sunnies is your absolute favourite?
I’m into the Daphne right now.
What’s on your shopping wishlist?
A new couch. if I can dream, this modular couch concept called bikini island from Moroso.
Hair by Mark Familara