The Dakkery: fancy eco tracky daks!
The story of the project
Definition: Tracksuit pants/sweat pants
Usage: “My tracky daks are so comfy but so hideously boring and frumpy that I almost lose the will to live when I wear them. Why can’t they feel great AND look amazing too?!”
And therein lies the problem. But what’s the solution?
Introducing The Dakkery: spectacular luxury organic cotton/bamboo fleece tracky daks – designed, hand printed and made in Australia. Step into the world’s comfiest works of art!
I am Mandy, an extremely sleep-deprived mum of two. Well I only have one but he IS two, which is pretty much the same thing (cue eye rolls from parents of more than one – see below!).
Anyway, I was living in a beautifully dilapidated historical Victorian Terrace that had more cracks than an apprenticeship of plumbers – under doors, over doors, IN doors, in walls, around windows…you get the idea. And it was winter. Admittedly Sydney winter (and it was mild that year), but it was colder inside than out – really, ski gear wouldn’t have gone astray. Awaking one morning, I haughtily raised my middle finger at the ray of sunshine poking me in the eye, fashioned the doona into a balaclava with a hole for only one nostril and tried to pretend that I didn’t actually have to emerge from the warmth to another day and yet another depressing choice between freezing or frumpy. I wanted to look (and feel!) like this:
Or like this:
But I don’t have a dog. So I usually feel more like this:
Or even this:
And I glanced sadly at my funky skinny jeans that make me feel like a million bucks and yet again pushed them aside to reach for that daggy Aussie staple – my bland, ill-fitting, but cosily warm fleecy tracky daks. The ones that, when I wear them, remove all impetus to brush my hair or teeth. Or clean the house. Or do anything much except watch infomercials and Days of Our Lives and maybe summon the energy to venture down to the pokies (only every second Thursday of course). And I thought “why can’t I have tracky daks that are cosy and comfortable and actually fit AND that not only am I not ashamed to dash to the shops in, but proud, because they’re spectacular, and make me look AMAZING?! Where are all the spectacular daks?!”
So I took my first world problem and did something about it, something to make the world a better place. I’ve created The Dakkery – a gallery of beautiful, comfy, cosy, wearable works of art!
The product: in short – fancy tracky daks. But man are they fancy!
Actually I really do hope to make the world a better place, just a little. I believe there’s always a way in a commercial enterprise to create a win/win situation for everyone involved – from creator to customer. Furthermore, my ethics are such that if I can’t do this then I will not do it at all.
The Dakkery uses a blend of organically grown bamboo and organic cotton (70%/30%), which is then made into a fleece viscose fabric. Bamboo is a great choice as it grows so fast (up to 4 feet a day – what?!), self-replenishes, is very economical with water and actually absorbs more Co2 than the equivalent area of trees. And the resulting fabric is also beautiful, hard-wearing and super soft. We are using 500gsm super heavy fleece for real autumn/winter warmth and the slightly lighter 400gsm to take you through the rest of the year.
The designs are – as I type this! – being hand-screenprinted (not digital, there’s no comparison) by David Lennie of Signature Prints in the heart of Sydney. David is kind of a big deal in the business, I’ve discovered – some of his work can be found in Trump Towers, USA, through his role in the preservation of the astonishing legacy of Florence Broadhurst (which itself is legendary). Here are some behind-the-scenes shots – adding the second layer (of three) of palms and completing Ornate Tribal.
The patterns are being made and the pants themselves being manufactured by high-end Sydney designer Caryn Luxton, of Caryn Luxton Design (her clients include the likes of Alex Perry and Tigerlily Swimwear). So not only does this make these tracky daks uniquely and truly high-end, but The Dakkery is supporting what are diminishing industries here as more and more companies head offshore for cheap and often unregulated labour – which is definitely not a win/win. But this is where the real costs come in, and why I’m seeking your help to get it off the ground (more on that further down).
But apart from aiming for the highest quality in every detail, my main focus and the thing that makes these tracky daks totally unique is that the designs themselves are truly outstanding, real works of art. The aim once the brand gets going is to feature artists from around the world – like an actual international gallery (of daks – a dakkery!). The two pieces featured here in this first run – Palm Beats and Ornate Tribal – are by Margaret Perez, a wonderful artist I was lucky enough to stumble across from the Philippines. Here are some other of Margaret’s designs that I hope to bring to fruition when we really get off the ground.
Every time I buy clothing with a great print, I find myself wondering who the artist is, and why we don’t acknowledge them on clothing like we do on paintings in galleries. So I decided I wanted to do this myself, which is why you’ll find the artist’s signature on the sewn-in label inside your daks. It’ll look something like this:
DETAILS OF THE DAKS
We are starting out with two designs only – Palm Beats:
And Ornate Tribal:
Both designs are created to be able to be printed continuously and cut in any direction, which ensures the greatest possible yield from the fabric (we’re doing everything we can to keep costs down; later we can experiment with all sorts of other artwork including placement prints which have to be lined up – lots more work and expense, and even photography – the sky is the limit!).
The first two designs are both created to showcase the natural unbleached bamboo fabric underneath the print, which is a sort of creamy colour (not quite white, but not yellow), as above. The Ornate Tribal design is printed on the super heavy 500gsm fleece, and Palm Beats on the slightly lighter 400gsm. They are both cosily warm and super soft.
Because everyone is shaped differently and has different tastes, we are offering the daks in three different cuts: tapered, relaxed leg and wide leg (as per pics).
The main problem with tracky daks – apart from the fact that they’re almost always plain and boring, is that the fleece can be bulky and this adds frump. To that end, I wanted the design to be as simple and clean as possible. So the waistbands are wide, flat elastic; the printed fabric will cover the outside and the soft, modern elastic will sit against the skin, which means the fewest possible layers of fabric in the tummy area (just two in total – photos to come). On the matter of pockets; I know pockets are handy, but a pocket not only interrupts the line of the design and your shape, but it adds TWO LAYERS of thick fleece fabric right where you least want it – the hips and thighs! We experimented with different possibilities but none of them remove the frump element like no pockets at all. Furthermore, the relaxed and wide leg styles are made without an outside seam – again a much smoother, cleaner line that removes visual kilos and is very flattering to your natural shape. The tapered style needs the seam to achieve the more tailored look.
The daks will be available in sizes small to extra large (exact measurements to follow). They’re women’s only at the moment but if all goes well the aim is to expand to men’s and kids’ designs as well. Any and all updates will be posted here to keep you in the loop.
The Dakkery isn’t about pretending to be something it’s not. These are tracky daks, and tracky daks are traditionally a bit daggy. But I think it’s time to elevate them to their rightful place in the fashion food chain – which is possibly still daggy as a concept, but anything but that in reality!
* That’s the end of the story, but if you want more info about the behind-the-scenes nitty gritty, read on!
How the funds will be used
The only thing left at this stage – and it’s a big one – is to pay for the actual making of the pants.
Firstly, there is no getting around the fact that Australian-made is way more expensive than going offshore. But I don’t want to do it any other way for three reasons: I want to have confidence in the conditions of workers involved, I want to support what appears to be a disappearing Australian industry, and finally because the tracky dak is an Aussie icon – it just feels like they should be made here!
Next, the first production run is expensive as there are many one-off costs (which I have already paid for), such as pattern making and grading, print screens and set up etc.
Finally, because I have to stay small initially to be able to afford to begin at all, the production costs per unit are higher. The $5000 I hope to raise here will go solely towards the manufacturing of the pants (that’s less than half of what it’s costing) – everything else from commissioning and revising initial designs ($2000), fabric ($3500), screen making and art set up ($1400), printing ($6000) to pattern and sample making ($3000) and packaging/other bits and pieces ($2000) I have paid for myself (and the bills keep rolling in – eeek!).
Any funds over the goal will go towards another production run, possibly with variations of colour on the same designs or maybe new designs. This will depend on timing and logistics, and of course funds. But rest assured that if any other options open up you’ll be the first to know. Additionally, pledges of $150+ earn the right to vote on the next designs!
Some of my other work
Because of this, I’ve searched high and low and have been lucky enough to find collaborators who are at the top of their game who have made this happen. And I’ve wrestled with this particular pants problem for a long time.
Oh and I have designed one other item of clothing – my wedding dress, which I wear at every opportunity (I’m a performer so it happens a fair bit, yay!).
There are no Australian bamboo fabric producers – we grow bamboo but no-one manufactures it here and I’ve therefore had to source from overseas. If this ever changes I’ll be buying Australian.
There are fewer and fewer local screen printers – the one I was initially working with closed down between the start of the project and the time I was ready to proceed. Digital printing was never an option as the quality just doesn’t come close and The Dakkery is all about the artwork. However this has turned out to be an absolute boon as I’m now working with the best in the business.
Manufacturers: there’s no way around the fact that Australian manufacturers are more expensive than those overseas and those commonly used for big, high-end but mainstream brands for mass-production (Asia, for instance). This is largely to do with our strict labour laws – and this is a good thing. I’m not interested in ripping anyone off for a dollar – it’s not my style and does not fit with my personal philosophy and way of conducting myself in all facets of my life. So ownership of the pants comes at a premium. But you get what you pay for. This is a high end, custom product, one that you can’t help but feel good about wearing (and it shows!).