Boss-girl duo Sukeban are spurning superficial fashion mores with their online platform and zine for young creatives
Erika Bowes and Yuki Haze, the founders of online creative platform and zine Sukeban, are a compelling presence. Opinionated and down-to-earth, their ongoing ambition is to give a platform to the people high fashion forgets.
“The majority of the time, (the fashion industry) tends to recycle people that are already established,” says Bowes. “We want to use people regardless of their age, following, or where they came from.” Haze adds: “We’re not trying to find you to say that we found you. We're doing it because we know how much young people need to be put on somewhere.”
As their zine has grown in popularity, the process of finding underground names has become slightly easier for Bowes and Haze. People seek them out at events and on social media. They tell a story about Archibald, “this kid from Cornwall”, who sent them a sparse email with his photographs attached that will now be appearing in the zine.
“The email was so funny, it was just this attachment of all his pictures with ‘check out these pics’, smile emoji,” says Haze. “They just had so much energy to them and there was nothing superficial or pretentious about them.”
As their website explains, “Sukeban means delinquent girl or boss girl in Japanese”, and the duo champion this signifier of their mixed-heritage proudly. They have a Girls by Girls section on their website showcasing intimate photographs and interviews of women, often curated by their best friends. Most of the women in the photographs are black, Asian or of mixed heritage. “Our main thing is to support emerging talent, but at the same time, we really do push representation for people of colour – especially women of colour,” says Haze.
Like most people of colour in the UK, Bowes and Haze are clearly used to being asked where they’re from (or “really from”). When asked about their backgrounds, they quickly reel off their mixed-race heritage (Bowes is Japanese-English, born in Hawaii, and Haze is Japanese-Dutch) until they realise the question was about their artistic backgrounds, and how they met each other.
“We properly met in Tokyo when we were visiting family,” explains Bowes, who had just finished her degree in fashion communications at the time (Haze hadn’t got into uni and was doing a lot of “shitty internships”). “I guess we were at a point where we didn't know what we wanted to do. You know when you’re just kind of struggling?” Now working as a creative direction, photography and styling team alongside their Sukeban duties, the pair are just beginning to hit their stride.