Despite its thriving scene, when you think about skateboarding, the Scottish city of Glasgow doesn’t exactly spring to mind. But Doyenne Skateboards wants to change that — and change its local skate culture in the process.
We caught up with the collective via email to find out more about the brand. Founded by three women who prefer to remain nameless because “we like the brand to stand for itself without being associated with a select few people,” Doyenne produces brightly colored streetwear, mainly hoodies, tees, and accessories.
But as the Doyenne team say, the brand is “more of a movement than a business” and its cause is to make skateboarding more inclusive. For anyone who has been paying attention, it's not controversial to point out that the skate scene is overwhelmingly male. Big-name female pros are greatly outnumbered and if you go to your local skatepark, the demographics will probably be similar.
It's not as if women and girls can't skate or aren't interested, though. For many would-be skateboarders, not seeing themselves reflected in who is already skating can feel like a barrier to entry. "This is how the circle can become so vicious,” the Doyenne team tell us. “Girls and other minorities didn’t see anyone like themselves doing it, so they didn’t think they could or should skate.
That’s not to say that things aren’t getting better. Major brands like Nike SB and Vans host women-only skate nights to encourage more people to take up skating, while high-profile skaters like Lizzie Armanto and Vanessa Torres are helping to change the image of skateboarding.
Still, when the first female pro-skater was only signed in 1995 (Elissa Steamer to Toy Machine) and last year Samarria Brevard became the first black woman to go pro for a major brand (joining Enjoi) — it's clear that while progress is being made, we have a lot to catch up on.
“We started concentrating on women in skateboarding but quickly understood that it wasn’t just women who were excluded by the scene, but also people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBT community. Making a skateboarding brand just for women wasn’t going to make skateboarding inclusive, it was just going to divide it in some other way.”
So while the brand is made by women, the trio behind it is adamant that it's for everyone. Doyenne’s inclusivity extends to the design of the clothes. Doyenne's clothes are neither womenswear nor unisex but ungendered to incorporate nonbinary people, something the team says is because they “wanted to make sure everyone knows that they don’t need to conform to any gender to wear our clothes.”
The colors also reflect the label's ethos. "Wearing a bright color is an act of confidence and courage, and that’s what we want our customers to feel when they wear our clothes," they tell us.
Doyenne isn't just dropping a few hoodies and hoping it'll raise awareness. The brand donated some of the profit from its first two collections to Skateistan, a skateboarding charity working with children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa, while £5 per item from Doyenne's Spring collection is being donated to SkatePal, a nonprofit building skateparks and providing skateboarding lessons and equipment to young Palestinians in the West Bank.
The group admits that while Glasgow isn't exactly on a par with iconic skate cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, or Barcelona, the city's smaller scene has made it easier for the brand to thrive. "In a small place like Glasgow, there's more enthusiasm and support within the community," they explain. "It feels like we're all so much more united. The Scottish skateboarding scene isn't too diverse, as with any other small place, but we can see it growing every day."
A case in point: the day after Doyenne's first-ever launch party, 10 new people showed up at the group's local skatepark, and the majority were women. "This made us realize that the scene can change for the better," they say. "All we need to do is give people opportunities."