We love women who disrupt norms in the name of feminism. That is exactly what this group of badass skaters are doing for skateboarding culture. Collectively they are known as Brujas, and hail from New York City – The Bronx and the Lower East Side to be exact.
We came across the group by reading some press on Billboard.com which outlined who the group is, where they come from, their mission, and their apparel range. On the Brujas website, they describe themselves as “an urban, free-form, creative and autonomous organization that seeks to build radical political coalition through youth culture. We express community through skateboarding, art and political organizing.”
The all-female group was founded 3 years ago, and today are predominantly made up of women of color and minorities. 22 year-old Arianna Gil is one of the founding members, and says the Brujas are more than just your average skate brand or skate group.
“We’re trying to integrate a lot of different elements in the Brujas project. We’re intellectuals, we love critical theory. We’re fashion-heads, we love streetwear. And then, you know, we’re also trying to build a participatory community model,” said the musician and recent college graduate to Billboard’s Brett Berk.
One of their aims is to disrupt the white and male-dominated skate culture and the sport, which has very few women as household names in the same vein as popular skaters and celebrities like Tony Hawk or Bam Margera who have become skate brands unto themselves, branching out into many other types of media.
But clearly the skate world needs the Brujas, for their presence and the meaning they give to their apparel. In 2016 they released their first collection titled ‘1971’ which was focused on mass incarceration, and their most recent collection which was showcased at New York Fashion Week was called ‘Each One Teach One’, focused on education.
The group’s lead designer Robin Giordani says being part of NYFW allows them to further spread their message and show something unique to the fashion world.
“We are definitely not one in the same as a lot of the other things that happen in Fashion Week. I think it’s a breath of fresh air to see a collection that is more focused on the community, on local projects, and engaging youth,” she said.
All of the pieces in the ‘Each One Teach One’ line come with an educational syllabus which can be accessed online. Their presence in NYC as well as in the skate world is inherently political, most notably for their gender and skin color. Speaking to the New York Times which published an in-depth feature about the group, Arianna says the group is also about raising awareness of the struggles people in their communities are facing.
“There’s so little opportunity for young people of color in terms of jobs and education that we don’t feel like a part of this city. Skating is a way to reclaim our freedom,” she told NYT’s Noah Remnick.
Each of the women in the group starting skating on their own and have experienced feeling like outsiders in the skate world. Some have even felt unsafe in male-dominated skate parks, but together, they are a sisterhood that can take on any opposition.
The name “Brujas” means “witch” in Spanish, and the women say they decided on the name after watching a video from 1986 which depicted women pushing men off skateboards. While there aren’t any explicit plans for this group of Brujas to do that, they say they skate as a form of dissent against the gentrification of the parts of the city they live in, which contributes to rising house prices, poverty and lack of jobs for some.
“Skateboarding is a political act. It allows us to question private property and reclaim all the spaces in our city that have been rezoned and redeveloped into oblivion,” said Arianna, whose family had to move apartments due to gentrification.
As the Brujas have welcomed more members they have also become active within their community for the issues they face. They’ve engaged their local council as well as local minority youth, collaborating with other organizations to out on events.
“Every time we skate, it’s a way to tell the city we’re not just going to take these changes in stride. We’re here to add a little chaos,” said Arianna.
We love what the Brujas stand for, what they are doing, and how they are disrupting the skate world with some much-needed diversity and girl power. If you want to be part of the Brujas culture and support their mission, you can go to their website and purchase some of their clothing. If you are in NYC and want to meet the badasses in person, they post most of their events on social media so be sure to follow them on Facebook Instagram.