Doyenne - Making Skateboarding More Accessible

Doyenne - Making Skateboarding More Accessible

Question, who springs to mind when you think about a typical skateboarder? For most, it’s probably a white male, right? Don’t worry, it’s not your fault if that’s who. In skateboarding and, let’s be honest, across all sports (especially extreme sports), there is still a frightening lack of representation of women & other minority groups. Skateboarding, even as a subculture is still largely male-dominated, and for something that’s supposed to celebrate individual expression, there still seems to be limited space available for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and those with disabilities.

Surely anybody can grab a board and just… go out and skate, right? Well, it’s not that simple, actually. Blame Tony Hawk if you like, but we’ve found ourselves in a bit of a problematic loop anyway, which begins at the local skatepark. The lack of role models within these minority groups (especially intersectionally) to draw inspiration from makes it so much harder for them to join in. It’s fair to assume that a young adult male approaching a skatepark filled with other young adult males, would feel far more comfortable in this space compared to, say, a queer black woman, right? So why is this the case…

There’s a certain intimidating nature to a skatepark. For one, it’s the sport itself. Skateboarding requires a huge amount of confidence. It’s an extreme sport, it’s dangerous! Skateboarders often need to have the guts to throw themselves down a concrete ramp, or slide across a metal rail with sheer confidence to avoid potentially deadly injuries. This bravado doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people, especially those who have experienced plenty of rejection & ridicule throughout their lives - be it team sports, or even socially.

This is where Doyenne come in.

The women (remaining anonymous) that run Doyenne in Glasgow, Scotland, have been taking an ‘act local’ approach since launching to creating a much bigger space for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities to enjoy skateboarding. In general, Glasgow is one super friendly city, so it’s not a bad place to start. Whether on or off the board, in or out the bowls. Strength truly is numbers here, and through community they’ve given these minorities some new bearings, helping them navigate a new and exciting sport that belongs to all - not just white men.

The other side to the Doyenne story, I guess their raison d’être, is in the global efforts. Not only are they bringing together locals to get into skating, they also make beautiful, bold, non-gendered clothing, that splits profit with chosen organisations across the globe. Their new collection - which just dropped this week - supports Free Movement Skateboarding, who empower the young refugee population of Athens through skating.

Previously Doyenne have supported (and continue to support) the following organisations, which you can learn more about below.

- SkatePal, which supports young people in Palestine through skateboarding
- Concrete Jungle Foundation, who use skateboarding as a tool to stimulate positive personal and social development for underprivileged youth
- Skateistan, who we’ve talked about HERE
- Visibility Scotland, a local charity that supports people with sensory loss in Scotland

It’s sad that exclusion still exists pretty much everywhere, but where there’s community and positive role models, we can break out of this loop and give something like skateboarding back to who it belongs to. Everyone.

Why did you start Doyenne? 

When I was growing up as a female skateboarder, the clothes that I was wearing were made by brands whose teams were made up of pretty much all males. The people in the adverts in the magazines and the people they sponsored were all male. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I still wear these clothes, but I wanted to also wear clothes that would represent me as a female skateboarder. That didn’t exist yet. 

Why do you think skating has been so overwhelmingly male?

I mean it all stems from the Barbie / Action Man thing right? Growing up, girls had toys and products advertised to them that had nothing to do with extreme sports and anything 'rad'. Boys had Bart Simpson. I think because of this, not only do the guys think girls won't be into skating, but also the girls have felt like they never belonged on the scene in the first place. There’s also always been the assumption that well, if they wanted to then they would just… skate.

The thing is, skateboarding doesn't even have to be this crazy, deadly, grazen-kneed sport. It can be chill as well. If you just wanna cruise around on your board, it doesn't make you any less of a skateboarder.

How do you think Instagram has helped?

Instagram has helped a lot as it puts everybody on the same platform. Before that, and before youtube, skaters only had the best of the best on TV whilst watching the X-Games, and in video games and it seems like an impossible skill. But now, more and more accounts are posting videos of beginners, and what’s amazing about Instagram is seeing beginners, women, queer skaters and those with disabilities progressing.

I’m a beginner, when I see somebody get reposted that’s at my level, that’s the most inspiring thing to me. It makes me think “oh, actually I could do that”, whereas if I was watching pro skaters all day, even if they’re women, I’ll think it’s amazing but you know, I can’t really attempt that today. If you don’t have the representation near you, if you’re the only beginner at the skatepark then it’s hard. People learn from each other, that’s the thing I love about skateboarding. On Instagram there is so much representation of people at different levels so it’s so much easier for beginners to feel that a certain trick might be possible. 

Tell us about the clothes! 

We spent most of our time just choosing the colour palette to be honest. We try to be really colourful, we love pastels but we also want to make sure we have plain colours, and dark colours to ensure that there’s something for everyone. We make sure we’ve got some white, some pastel, some milder colours and some dark. We always like to pop the collection with some illustrated pieces too, so collaborations with different artists is super important to each of our collections. We just did one with Cindy Whitehead who was one of the first pro female skaters! We reached out to her and wanted to use this photo and put her name to it. For decades it's been used by so many people as a stock image without credit, and we wanted to take this and make sure her name was printed next to it so that she would be talked about. 

What's been the highlight of running Doyenne so far?

We just love seeing the support we get from all over the world, it's amazing how that's possible now with social media. We receive DMs from kids all over the world, and it's crazy to think that someone must have paid super high prices for postage just to represent our clothing and the community. That's so cool to see. 

What advice would you give to the competent skater to help encourage the beginners in the park?

I just always always say to the 'good' skaters in the park to remember what it was like when they were younger, and when they couldn't ollie. And skateboarding should be about sharing and passing on skills, that's what it's all about. 

You can check out Doyenne’s new collection online HERE, or follow them on Instagram HERE.

Photos by @bgracephotos & @yoiain, lookbook styled by @lulaproctor.

Cover photo by @_serenabrown

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