Sukeban magazine was founded in Tokyo 2016 by Yuki Haze and Erika Bowes due to feelings of alienation and disillusionment in the fashion industry. A non-profit magazine, it champions exciting contemporary work by people of colour globally from writing to documentary. Yuki and Erica met when “Erica slid into my DM’s and I was like who dis? She then sent me cat videos and some funny memes so I thought ok, I’ll reply”, Yuki tells It’s Nice That. “We met up and instantly started talking about our issues with the industry and our fears of going back to London. And that’s how Sukeban was born.”
Sukeban provides an independent voice for POC creatives who can be otherwise forgotten in mainstream creative industries. “So much of the creative industries, including fashion in particular, are based on downright theft of minority cultures”, explains Yuki. “For example this concept of something only being fashionable or classy once the upper echelons of the industry ‘validate’ it, thus allowing them to monetise off of something that they previously denounced. So little credit is given to POC talent and creatives who are usually the kick-starters and represent the real forefront of originality.” From evident cultural appropriation on fashion runways, to the world of contemporary dance, minority cultures are often overlooked and discredited for their original concepts and aesthetics, which are constantly recycled and whitewashed by more powerful establishments.
“Social media and the internet has allowed movement for minority groups, and I think the fact that bigger companies or more established systems can’t ignore these voices anymore due to the nature of the internet is what’s actually contributing change”, she says. “We can only hope it’s coming from a genuine place (when it comes to bigger establishments) and not just a trend,” or a tokenistic attitude.
The magazine offers a unique platform for the new generations of socially-engaged, defiant talent. Featuring exciting creatives such as Anna Zhao, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Masaki Sato and Emily Lucas, its exemplary in showcasing diversity and fresh innovation. Additionally, Yuki and Erika discuss the major concerns that the creative industries face in the near-future, “companies need to pay young creatives properly… The pay gap is just too large between famous photographers/influencers compared to up-and-coming creatives”. When you “hire someone, it means you respect their work and if you are a big, established company you should have a budget that represents that for everybody. Exposure isn’t payment, it’s disrespect”. Yuki further questions, “why are there so few black designers supported with funding? The fact that Tyler Mitchell was the first black photographer to shoot Vogue’s cover in 126 YEARS is WILD”.
Although Sukeban have had two print issues to date, the costs to maintain the print run are too high for the non-profit magazine and they are hoping to attain some funding to continue running the publication. They are also hoping to expand into running events, exhibitions and live classes for the essential platform to continue challenging the status quo and improve the visibility of POC creatives.
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