When you form a collective and then name it after delinquent Japanese girl gangs of the 70s you know you’re in for a kick-ass ride. And as that’s exactly what Erika Bowes and Yuki Haze did with their online platform-gone-print magazine Sukeban it’s no surprise the London girls are now at the forefront of challenging established stereotypes in media and connecting creatives of all different fields.
After knowing but not really knowing each other for quite some time and even trying to hunt down the same guy at a party, Erika and Yuki ultimately bonded while both visiting family in Tokyo when Erika messaged Yuki on Instagram asking to hang out. “To our surprise we got along very well and weren’t the people we expected one another to be based on our social media presence”, Erika says. What then happened can only be described as that special two-peas-in-a-pod-feeling: They discovered their similar views on the fashion industry, where they both wanted to work in, and discussed the issues it seems to have with including all different kinds of women. Shortly after, Sukeban was born.
“We shared our frustrations on the lack of diversity and equality, especially for women of colour, and we couldn’t stress enough how much this both annoyed us”, Erika and Yuki state, also referring to their own Japanese heritages as inspiration, “Being mixed race made us want to start something that was more inclusive to women of color and naturally we named the magazine after something Japanese.” Following through with their vision, Sukeban now is a place for women of all different creative fields and ethnicities to meet, connect and discover each other’s work.
And Erika and Yuki have no intention of stopping just here. The two girls, also working as stylists and photographers, know exactly what they want – and how to get there: “We all understand the power of social media and the amount of influence it holds, so why not use it to spread a message or an image that we want, a message or image that we find lacking in popular media? Social media has enabled us to create our own popular media in a sense, which is actually pretty amazing and a development that no generation, particularly teenagers or young adults, have ever had before.” After all, this is a journey we should all take together the two say: “It’s really inspiring to work alongside other like minded creatives who all want to contribute towards making Sukeban a place for young, aspiring people. We feel that there is so much we can use our platform for, even if it’s just to raise awareness to issues that are affecting ourselves and the people around us.” That sure sounds like a pretty good start to us.
And to get a real glimpse into Erika and Yukis world we asked them to give us a little backstory to some of their fave Instagram pictures – spiced with a hint of rebellion of course.
All Images via Instagram
By Trisha Balster