Doyenne: Skating Harmony
Founded due to a lack of diversity, representation, and safe spaces for new skaters, Doyenne has grown into a brand and studio that aims to inspire and represent their community both locally and globally. We meet the collective's founders
Doyenne is an independent brand and studio run by women with a focus on inclusivity. The project is rooted in skateboarding and since beginning in 2017, their vision has been translated into clothing, campaigns, artist collaborations and zines that keep community at the heart. Doyenne’s mission is to use its collections as a way to raise money to donate to projects they believe in that connect social justice and skateboarding, and over the years, Doyenne has donated 10% of profits to many different charities. Having recently collaborated with NikeSB, we find out what’s next for this visionary leader in the skateboard community.
Glorious: Why did you start Doyenne and where does the name come from?
Doyenne: We started Doyenne in Glasgow, which is the city where we all met. At the time we felt there was a lack of representation of non-traditional skaters in the media and generally in skate brands’ minds, so we decided to create our own while also bringing people together in our local scene through free skate lessons for beginners.
Doyenne means the oldest, most experienced and respected woman of a group or profession. We like to think of Doyenne as bringing a feminine lens in the scene, as well as reclaiming the wisdom and strength that resides in that. We felt the term really suited our mission.
Glorious: As a female-led brand, you act as a collective entity for skaters, artists, activists and creatives. Please discuss this further. Have you found friendships with your collaborators?
Doyenne: I would say this happened organically, as the project evolved we connected with many like-minded creatives that resonated with our philosophy, both through social media and in real life. Collaboration has always been part of what Doyenne does, we feel this enriches the project and we always strived to use our brand as a platform more than anything else, so it naturally became multifaceted. Each project we tend to work with different creatives and as we progress we have definitely developed beautiful friendships and a community of collaborators that we trust and love.
Glorious: You view Doyenne as a vehicle for ideas, rather than a brand to sell stuff. This is refreshing and different! Tell us more about your community/ previous collabs/ activations/ fundraisers/ events.
Doyenne: Exactly. We started the project with the mission of using our collections as a way to raise money to donate to projects we believe in that connect social justice and skateboarding. Over the years we have donated 10% of our profit to many charities like Skateistan, Skatepal, Concrete Jungle Foundation, Free Movement. Sometimes the donation project would inspire the designs, such as in the case of Visibility – a charity for blindness – where we embroidered in Braille over our printed logo.
We approach the business with a think global, act local philosophy and this has been a fundamental aspect of Doyenne, always reinvesting the proceeds into the projects we want to support.
Glorious: Compared with other sports, skateboarding lends itself well to creative collaborations, why do you think this is?
Doyenne: This might be because it’s not a sport that functions with teams and coaches, but rather a creative expression, and skateboarding very much revolves around filming and photography, so it is naturally a scene that lives in the creative realm as much as on the concrete. There is a very strong sense of community between skaters and this allows many connections to be made both creatively speaking and friendships.
Glorious: You tackled important and serious issues in the community project ASK. What were your intentions with this project and what did you learn whilst exploring these topics?
Doyenne: Our intention with ASK was to shine a light on the importance of talking about consent in our community and beyond. We believe that the only way to stop some behaviours to perpetuate is to understand them and discuss them with others in a safe and supporting environment. Our zine was just that, it was a space for these conversations. ASK is a collaborative project with Consent is Rad, Consent for Breakfast and Hera Skate, which are all organisations dedicated to make the skateboarding community safer and more inclusive. We learnt so much about consent, especially from our collaborators. It is important to understand how consent goes beyond sexual assault, it is present in everything we do in relation to others and it is so important for everyone to learn how to respect everyone’s boundaries and needs better.
Glorious: You’ve recently collaborated with NikeSB. Please tell us how this came about?
Doyenne: The skateboarding community is big but it is very tight. John Rattray, a fellow skateboarder from Scotland involved with Nike, knew about our project and he introduced us to the NikeSB team. John noticed us because he has a project dedicated to mental health called Why So Sad?, so we had in common the same aims, opening conversation about the things we care about and using skateboarding and design as the medium for these.
Glorious: How did you remain true to your brand values whilst designing for a giant in the sports world? Were they good brand-collaborators?
Doyenne: The creative process started very broad, and that has felt incredibly refreshing. We had a blank canvas to explore the directions to take for both apparel and footwear. Since the beginning, we were clear about our priorities and values as designers, and we’d say that informed a lot of the decisions we took, from material sourcing and design elements. The Nike design team was absolutely great to collaborate with, they really listened and encouraged our ideas and opinions, so we felt very supported throughout the whole process.
Glorious: We love ’Seeking Comfort in an Uncomfortable Place’ – untold stories of neurodivergent skaters? Tell us about your experience of making this beautiful piece. Do either of you have a background in filmmaking?
Doyenne: Our main role in Doyenne is creative direction and art direction, and that direction can go from clothing, design, photography, events to films too. Filmmaking is not our main practice but we have some background in it, which we hope to explore even more. For this film we worked along a great team of filmmakers, which are also our close friends and part of our Doyenne community, Debora Maitè as director and Meg Wriggles as producer (and skater in it). We approached this film more as a documentary, we wanted to truthfully tell the stories of these skaters in the most authentic way possible, understanding how important it is to have these experiences expressed in a vulnerable and sincere way through an accessible medium like a film.
Glorious: Doyenne works with people from all kinds of creative spheres, do you have any exciting new collaborations coming up?
Doyenne: We have a few collaborations coming up (which we can’t share details yet!) but we love working with other brands, organisations and charities because we can learn from each other and it helps us expand the idea of Doyenne more and wider each time. So the more different the project, the more interesting the result will be. We look forward to amplifying our idea of studio within the brand and work on more diverse projects, from films, publications and events. We hope to connect with our community more in real life, detaching more from the idea of social media being the current centre of connection.