~ (2) In Conversation with Giulia
Angelucci: Doyenne Is a Mindset 

Photography Joseph Fox and Lara Coassin
Models Cal Dawson, Ellis Smith, Emily Mobbs, Lilly Marie Goodman and Lily Stimpson
Styling Doyenne ~ Latest Collection
Words Lara Coassin

We spoke to Giulia Angelucci, co-founder of skateboarding brand Doyenne, about the importance of commnunity, redefining the term brand and what success really means.

Giulia Angelucci When we started, we didn’t even start with the idea of being a business. The need was always community and that has always been our focus.
The first t-shirts that we did were all going to Skateistan, so all the profits were for Skateistan, and then we recycled some boards. It’s always just been about connecting with other people be it collaborations or be it creating a community and just showing people that they could do it. It’s never been about the products, it’s always been about how you connect with people, how you speak to people, and how you can make someone realise that they can do something regardless of what they grew up thinking. And that still makes Doyenne what it is. And I think it was definitely about representation. That you could show someone that they could enter the sport, just by having a board. And so, we just gave people free boards. And we made boards for £15, the first ones were made from recycled old boards.
It all built up and we mostly met people in real life, mostly at events. I was reading about all these brands, meeting people, and talking about this new [movement]. We just did it; naturally and organically made exhibitions, brought people together. Regardless of whether you were a skater or not, you would come because there was really cool art and it was also within the skate culture, so it was amplifying voices, connecting people with our audience. ︎︎︎
Lara Coassin We’ve never really talked about how Doyenne came about...

GA That was the start of it and then we got put in the spotlight; as they always do when you are this new thing and people don’t understand what it is. Lots of magazines started approaching us like i-D, Highsnobiety, and Skateism. Everyone was talking about us and asking us all these questions: What we were going to do in the future and all this... I have no clue, I’m just doing this because it’s important and the most important part for me has always been redistributing capital, so the profit has never been in the company. The concept has always been to get money from the Global North and to give it to the Global South, so I was using the brand for redistribution of capital.
That was really important; donating to charities, connecting to other people, and giving back. The giving back has always been the main [focus]. ︎︎︎
LC We’ve seen so many special collaborations over the years. Is there a particular project that comes to mind?

GA Everything that we ever did had so much intention of inner work and always connecting it to a charity. We did this t-shirt with a charity for blind people called Visibility. The t-shirt was printed and it had embroidery of Doyenne in braille so you could actually read it.
We are going to focus more on collaboration, making things that are more interesting, and having a different approach to [our design] by creating with values. We have a few collaborations lined up now. Recently, we have also been thinking about adaptability and how to include inclusivity in the design process. So, we just worked on a neurodiversity collaboration with an art school in London called Hart Club UK. We’re going to do boards that they are painting at Hart School and we’re making a film about neurodiversity and their experience, especially within skateboarding.
There are all these really interesting, community projects that we are working on; it’s all about having a social impact in the community without leaving people behind, about connecting.
When you think about communities and organisations collaborating together, that in itself is building a community that is resilient because you’re actually sharing your knowledge and learning from each other. And before, it was all this closed behind the scenes, like, nobody could know anything about your company. ︎︎︎
LC How has the industry changed in regard to working collectively?

GA Everyone is just so open lately and it’s really interesting because it’s joining forces and that’s how change and innovation come about. And there are all these collectives now that are starting that started with Doyenne. We were some of the first ones, and I mean Unity was the first queer collective skateboarding collective from LA.
We did so much with Doyenne without having any certifications... The internet is so good because you don’t actually have to get all the permissions to hire a space; it’s so easy to just make a page and make it grow and share your values. And we showed that by simply putting up a poster, people will come. If you create a space, someone will show up. People showed up and things have changed. Our movement has changed; trend forecasters are talking about women in skateboarding changing the way that women think. And that started in 2017. ︎︎︎
LC I know the brand has changed a lot since the beginning, I know that you want to take a new approach as a design studio rather than exclusively producing clothes. I understand it’s a community for skaters, more than just skaters, anyone who wants to be part of it.

GA It’s a mindset. My friend from New York said to me it’s more of a movement. And that’s also the thing I’ve been struggling with; the term brand. What does brand mean? I think it’s so reductive what people mean a brand should be. I just, don’t believe in consumption or I don’t believe in that capitalistic mindset. What do we need? I was reading this quote saying if the most sustainable garments are the ones, we already own, why is the conversation around sustainability always about shopping? Why is it about shopping, why isn’t it about life? What people need right now, you know? What Doyenne always gave was a sense of belonging, being part of something. I heard stories of people wearing Doyenne to the skatepark, someone else was wearing Doyenne, and they bonded because they knew they shared the same values. That is what the brand is about. It’s about sentiment, emotions, and your life and it needs to serve you as a person. We all have to heal and unlearn that we’re not consumers first and people second. We are people that already have everything we need; we don’t have to legitimise ourselves by buying something new all the time. I want them to buy [a garment] once and wear it forever. I’m now working towards following up, promoting this culture of care, and rewarding people for this care. The longer you keep the clothes, the more you bond with them. I want to know what that means to you.
We need to base our business on degrowth, growing through degrowth. It is the only way to future-proof your brand and be successful because if you’re not basing it on degrowth, you’re going to fail in five years’ time. Because in five years’ time there is not going to be any way to produce like this any longer. And that’s just a matter of fact. ︎︎︎
LC I’d like to go back to that... what it means to be successful. How do you define success?

GA That’s a really interesting question. We think it’s working for a big company, big name to certify you. But then as you go along and you actually look at the industry for what it is, you think about what you need. What success actually means. Is it having a big reach? Is it working for a big company? Is success being fulfilled?
When I was learning textile design, I did different internships, and some were for big companies, some for small. And the difference was that for big companies, I would do just one repetitive job every day because I was in one department, whereas in the small one, you’re more fluid, it depends on what’s of highest priority, and in the small one you are valued as a human being and you are really important and you get to know who is employing you. For me, that is really important. What I realised is that success for me is working in something that I believe in, first of all. Success is measured on values and ethics of whom I’m working for and how much I can learn from that person. Something that can enrich my soul more than enrich my CV or my status. And that’s the same way that Doyenne selects people; not by the jobs that they’ve had before or how great they are, it’s about sharing the same values. Success for me is reaching a point where the business can exist and sustain itself, it can create growth, not just for the business but for someone else, other people, what we believe in, what we are working towards...
It’s not a growth of greed, that’s the thing of Doyenne, it’s not about being greedy, you know, if you have enough of something, you share it, you make it enough for yourself and you give everything else back. Because that’s how you create sustainability that is what sustainability is.

~ (Brighton and Hove, February 2022)