A cursory scroll through Dôen’s Instagram feed reveals instantly why women are so drawn to the brand: it feels more like a friend’s page than a branded one. That’s partly because the label was quite literally founded by friends and family—sisters Katherine and Margaret Kleveland, Phoebe Dean, and Hilary Walsh—but also because their feed is lacking overly-retouched photos, hidden advertisements, and the usual air of exclusivity. Instead, there are re-grams from Dôen’s enthusiastic customers (and not just famous influencer types); images from the design team’s moodboard; photos of their children; and behind-the-scenes snapshots from their lookbook shoots, often set in stunning destinations like the South of France or Byron Bay.
For the spring 2020 collection, which is arriving online now, the team ventured to Mérida, Mexico, in the Yucatan region. The choice of location developed in tandem with Katherine’s design process, specifically how the prints and colors might pop against Mérida’s light and landscape. “In so many ways, the Yucatan already felt so aligned with what we create—the palette and our love for careful handwork,” she explains. “It felt so fitting to shoot in a place with such natural beauty and a vibrant culture and history. Photographing the collection amidst the lush landscape and the heat-faded haciendas of Mérida was pure alchemy… The two blended so beautifully together and created [images] that truly feel like a tropical dream.”
Below, they’ve shared a glimpse of their trip with Vogue, from shooting at Hacienda Tekik De Regil to hanging poolside at Hotel Rosas y Xhocolate and exploring Mercado Lucas de Galvez. But they left Mexico with more than gorgeous photos and fond memories: Spending time in the country also motivated the team to get more involved with the crisis at the border. “[After] traveling to and shooting in Mexico, we knew immediately that we had to find a way to assist the asylum seekers,” Margaret explains. “For quite some time, we have been equal parts disheartened and enraged by the stories of what is happening at our border.
As a brand based in Southern California, we felt a particular sting knowing that this was so close to home, and as a company founded by women who are also mothers, the stories of family separation were almost too much to bear. Throughout the past year, we have been incredibly inspired by people in our community who have found a way to give aid and assistance to those affected—from our friend Julie Collazo, who founded the non-profit organization Immigrant Families Together, to Zoe Winkler Reinis who started This is About Humanity.
We profiled these amazing individuals on our site, and as we spoke with them and did our own research on the horrific situation, a certain remarkable organization based in San Diego kept popping up called Border Angels, a non-profit that works to do migrant outreach, immigration consultation, and advocacy for human rights and humane immigration reform. Being so close [in L.A.], we are able to contribute supplies and necessities.”
Now through the end of the month, Dôen is gathering necessities for Border Angels to donate to immigrants detained in shelters—items like soap, hand sanitizer, prenatal vitamins, cold medicine, diapers, and more. If you’d like to contribute, they’ve registered at Amazon and Target; Dôen’s team will organize everything over the next few weeks before delivering it to the border.
Let’s just say it’s a far cry from the way most brands engage with the places they stage their runway shows, photoshoots, and events.