Interview with PlankZine
The following conversation featured in Issue 1 of PlankZine (@plankzine), where creator Laura sat down with Gabby of Artemis Skate Company to talk about everything from trousers, the future of skating, and Ariana Grande...
Laura: What you’re doing is amazing. Can you tell us a bit more about why?
Gabby: So I can’t really remember when exactly the idea to make women’s skate trousers really took shape, but I’ve been skating for about a year and half now and almost exclusively with girls, and I just remember throughout that time us complaining about how we either had to wear our own fashion trousers that we kept ruining, or dude’s skate trousers that wouldn’t fit us right. I particularly remember that having to wear belts all the time with guys skate trousers was the stand-out thing because the waists were always too big even though they were also super tight and borderline uncomfy around the hips. And then the female versions of men’s skate trousers from those big brands weren’t much better, super unavailable, limited size range, limited style range, unaffordable for the average student or young professional, and I think it was towards the end of summer 2018 where I just had a thought click in my head like, man it would be really awesome if I could make a pair that was just right, with all the same technical construction but actually properly fitted to a woman’s body, and also didn’t financially marginalise a whole bunch of people. Like, there’s no technical and/or sporting equivalent for female skaters that really stands up to that at the minute. And I guess I felt that because I’d started skating with and then subsequently grown in the female skate community straight away that I could deliver that, as I’d been absorbing and also felt myself all the factors the girls wanted and were talking about, you know, something truly representative of the need felt by the community.
Laura: What makes your brand YOUR brand?
Gabby: That I know of, there is no other brand in the UK that’s making originally cut and specifically designed skate trousers for women. There’s a lot of printed tees and hoodies out there, which I’m also doing to help fund the trousers, but nothing else is filling that specific niche of a unique and technical trouser piece. I’m taking an insane amount of time making sure I get this right first time, especially seeing as it’s a quite structured work-pant style trouser. Sometimes I’m like oh I just need get them out there before someone else beats me to it, but then I remember that its ok to have market competition also long as I’m 100% happy and confident in my own product, like it’s the best I can do. I would hate to have created something rushed and forgettable just to be the first. I also have to trust that I have a good gauge of what is needed and people will come to Artemis Skate Co. for that intrinsic knowledge and with that trust, like it’s not a purely fashion thing, it’s made for purpose sporting equipment created by someone from that world. And that’s what I want to keep doing in the future, creating unique pieces from scratch for female skateboarders that aren’t already existing in 100 other variations.
Laura: What were the inspirations that got you here?
Gabby: Initially, I looked to a lot of indie skate brands already out there, like Yardsale and Skateboard Café, to see how they went about their growth and establishing themselves. That seemed like the hardest part to me, getting accepted by the community. An interview from Daniel Kreitem [Yardsale founder] on VICE sticks in my mind particularly as he said that he literally started in his bedroom making things for his friends and was just filming parts with them wearing the stuff, and it just grew and grew. It worked because it was natural and they were doing it for the love of it and crucially with skateboarding at its core. Just made me feel like I could do that with my own existing crew, it was accessible. Also a bit out of the left-field was GymShark. That guy started by noticing that there was no gym apparel out there for guys that weren’t already jacked, so I think he got his grandma to teach him how to make t-shirts out of old curtains, and now he’s global. Like everything starts from tiny beginnings, and no matter how long or hard the road is after it can always snowball into something that makes a valid contribution. Reading those stories made it feel doable and worth it to me.
Laura: Where do you feel your opportunities lie within the female skate scene? Beyond clothing?
Gabby: Of course, the dream would be to have a team. A dream team! Like a sick group of all-female brand riders, something like what Meow Skateboards and the Skate Witches are already doing in the states. Not to say there aren’t some sick regional female crews here in the UK, notably Nefarious Skate Crew and RWTG Leeds, GSGNotts etc, but I’d love to take that to the next level you know. To have a pro team of talented individuals from all across the UK that compete on the international scene, that would be so great. And it would be amazing to give female skaters who live in this country something to own and support and draw inspiration from. To develop and establish to that extent as an authentic British skateboarding brand would be insane.
Laura: What’s your favourite part of the scene?
Gabby: How open it all is. Anything you can think of and you want to do people are behind it. Like you want to start a brand? Do it. Want to post a clip of yourself eating shit in a skirt? Do it. Want to post that vid of your first ollie or first roll in? Post that shit, we’re about to be yelling. I fucking love that it’s about the skateboarding and not the clique, which is so great to see amongst women and I want that to keep on spreading more than anything. The phrase “women supporting women” can come across a bit trite these days and people do like to throw it about but from my experience it is truly the case in this scene. Cattiness is outdated as fuck.
Laura: Where is your future product direction? From your offering, to how you’re helping create the foundations of the scene.
Gabby: I think the next thing I’d like to do would be a skort of some kind. Look cute and shred with ease you know. That vibe is becoming big in the scene now too, that you can wear what you want and still skate. You see it popping up everywhere on Insta, like you don’t have to wear some skater-approved uniform, or dress like the guys or whatever. Big advocates of skirt skating that directly inspired me are definitely @southernshorti, there’s this most iconic picture of her skating a bowl in a skirt which I think keeps getting deleted by Instagram, and also @wheelygooddoodles with her most recent embroidered tee design. Of course whatever people want to wear is cool, but I’d love to provide that extra option for those that want it whilst also keeping the products technical to skating and not gimmicky.
Laura: Where would you go tomorrow to skate and why?
Gabby: Either Southampton Guildhall or Totton skatepark. The guildhall is the most amazing open smooth space for flat ground and Totton has the biggest ability-friendly range of structures I’ve seen in the south. It’s got this sick little 1ft quarter which I learnt transition basics on because I’m terrified of anything higher haha. There’s also a really low concrete spine round the back of the biggest mini that’s great to learn the balance of boardslides on in the least sketchy way possible. I think a lot of beginners think the guildhall is scary because a lot of sick skaters ride there, but there is so much space its almost impossible to get in the way, you can pick out your own little spot and just sesh it. Everyone down Southampton is also incredibly lovely and supportive, nobody’s trying to make anyone else feel small or unwelcome whatever their learning stage, which is another reason why its great to skate. Great place to pick up some unofficial skate lessons you know!
Laura: Who do you look up to?
Gabby: Outside of the skate scene, I have great admiration for Ariana Grande. I know it’s a bit chuckle-worthy but regardless of what people think of her music, over the last few years she’s had some huge hurdles both professionally and in her personal life and she’s only getting bigger and bigger within her industry. To me that shows some serious commitment and guts to keep going whatever curveballs get thrown. In that sense, she’s a great business inspiration for me and a good role model to have when I come up against something that seems insurmountable. Apart from that and within the scene, this girl Marissa Martinez has also created her own female skate brand called Mama Skate. She’s based in LA and is making a surf pant style trouser for female skaters. She’s definitely further ahead in the process than I am and creating something stylistically different, but essentially we’re in the same boat in terms of what we’re trying to do, and she’s succeeding hard. I love that, it makes me think I can make it work too.
Laura: If you could work with anyone as a brand ambassador who would you work with and why?
Gabby: Amy Ram is my favourite female skater at the moment. She does really gnarly stuff and commits hard, she’s definitely got some the best tech I’ve seen in the UK currently. Helena Long is also awesome, not only an incredible skater but a genuinely great person. She fully supported me even when I reached out to her for a shout-out on the brand’s Insta launch, when I had nothing to show for myself other than an idea. Other honourable mentions are Rianne Evans who’s been on board with upcoming drops, and Skye Brown because it’s so inspiring to see a female on the Olympic team! The Brit girl skate scene is just generally really great at the moment, I feel like we bring a whole different vibe to the table that so unique, and which I can’t really describe either. More gritty and street-techy maybe?
Laura: What would you love to see accomplished through the aims for Artemis and projects like Plank Zine and GSUK?
Gabby: So I wanted to make something more of Artemis Skate Co. than just a clothing company, I wanted it to also be a community. Instagram is absolutely incredible for the skating world right now, so much support and positivity, people showcasing their clips no matter what skill level, the Olympics, female and minority skateboarding etc. And it’s all so easily accessible now with smartphones. I want to be able to show through this brand that no matter how much money you have, or whether you come from a small or big town, however old you are, whatever, that skating is for everybody and not some lofty or clichéd super edgy sport reserved for social rebels. And particularly for females to not feel self-conscious or embarrassed about starting. Like the community is going to recognise and gas up that first ollie just as much as that 100th eurogap or tre. Ultimately I’d love to see that message reaching as many people as possible through all mediums, so whether it be a physical zine like Plank, or via a mass community Insta like GSUK. I love that, there so many outreach options now.
Laura: Whats the thing you find most exciting about the female skate scene right now, and where it's heading?
Gabby: I think what’s great at the minute is the sheer amount of positive support and hype that female skateboarding is getting, from both men and women alike and on a local and international scale. In the future though I actually really look forward to a time when a girl skating doesn’t turn heads any more. Everybody knows it has traditionally been a male sport, and now we’re in this place where its coming out of that, and its obviously exciting and this increased attention is getting more and more women get involved, but I think the greatest thing will be when that difference isn’t even noticed any more. Like when women skating becomes so normal, so integrated and an ingrained part of both the scene’s present and its history. Like when Lizzie Armanto did the first full female loop, I thought, she’s just stamped female history right into the core of skating. That full integration and mutual progression of women and men within skating is what I wish for, and can pretty much predict will eventually happen what with general progress and awareness of gender in society. Its genuinely exciting.
Laura: How can people find you, follow you, support you?
Gabby: Instagram is the name and the game! @artemisskateco
Laura: Give us 5 words that sum up Artemis and skateboarding right now.
Gabby: On the up and up 😉