Young Suffragettes- Reba Maybury Radical Woman

Illustration by Natalia Sanabria

Walking through the Barbican café clad in an ankle length black PVC coat, emblazoned with badges that read, “tory slave” and “bollocks to austerity, tax the rich”, Reba Maybury (25) isn’t your typical ex fashion student. With her long dark hair and painted lips, it’s hard to distinguish her image from that of a pre-Raphaelite muse, but in fact, she’s more like Joan of Arc for the disenfranchised youth. 

Only two years out of Central Saint Martins and already editor of Sang Bleu, her latest project; a publication, encourages respect and admiration for an older generation of activists, ones we shouldn’t forget.

After being commissioned to create a newspaper, Reba looked to existing magazines to find points of inspiration, or is it happened, difference. Disgusted by a variety of issues these publications threw up including tokenism, a veer towards right wing politics and dangerous representation of body size, she took it upon herself to create the antithesis. “So many people in the fashion industry don’t have any taste, morals or politics and fashion is just so one dimensional, people aren’t aware of the responsibility they have when they create something” she says. “I think now that the cult of self exists more than subculture. People create identity for themselves as opposed to collectively” she says, “everyone is just complacent, they just get what they are given. 

Subculture is inherently political, even if the people who start the subculture aren’t highly politicised. It’s reactionary; it’s about getting angry. But we don’t see that anymore, everyone is just obsessed with themselves and how they look on the Internet.” 

Fittingly, everything down to the print aesthetics of the publication can be described as anti-Internet. Hand written personal essays and accounts live beside black and white film photography sitting on newspaper, creating an aesthetic that jars against click bait culture and the constant updating of Instagram that we’re all used to.

The result is Radical People, a celebration of only the fifty plus, launched initially with a teaser newspaper in February and full-length version in May on Election Day. Reba has now used the project to create her own publishing house Wet Satin Press. Growing up near Oxford, she’s experienced snobbery from childhood friends due to her choice to work in fashion, something her friends say means she is contributing to capitalism, an argument she strongly disagrees with, “The reason I wanted to work in fashion was a lot to do with feminism because I think it’s one of the most achievable ways you can change how women feel about themselves”. 

Reba throws up the interesting point that women look at fashion imagery more often than any other type of media, therefore resulting in fashion being an industry in which you can alter the perception of women and how they are ‘supposed’ to look for the better. 

Passionate about the fluidity of gender and equal rights, Reba feels the conversation as to whether a woman chooses to label herself as a feminist is redundant, “what women really should be doing is looking after each other because if we can’t do that then what’s the fucking point? A lot of women really fucking hate each other so that’s actually what we should be tackling.” She feels similarly surrounding the idea of Beyonce as a feminist icon, and the recent trend in culture to call out women on their ‘bad’ feminist behaviour, “who is a good feminist and who is a bad feminist is a fucking wasted conversation, as long as you care about other women that’s all that matters.”

And it's obvious that Reba does care about other women, and more specifically the impact her work has on them. Consciously deciding to act against conventions of the fashion industry she works in with the intent to build a better reality for herself, her friends and the wider world in general. Political, not afraid to say what she thinks and all round fabulous, Maybury is most definitely the making of a radical woman.

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