Fashion / Upcycling

Creative upcycling with Dakota Rae Dust

By emma gorton ellicott, Monday Feb 4, 2019

Dakota Rae Dust create colourful statement jewellery and embellished fashion pieces all ethically made by hand right here in Bristol, using bold vinyl prints and recycled fabrics lovingly sourced from charity shops and textile off cuts.

From tasselled earrings to embellished sweatshirts, designer Bec Denton has the skills to make you festival fabulous and can even help to jazz up your favourite comfy sweatshirt. Using a mix of bold graphics with neon highlights and handcrafted vinyl blooms, she creates an unforgettable psychedelic rave style that is unique to Dakota Rae Dust.

“I have always enjoyed using vintage and reclaimed fabric in my work,” explains Bec. “Creating something that is unique and different is really important to me.”

Festival inspired Statement Tassle necklace £27 (left) and beautiful handmade Tropical clutch purse £45 (right) both handmade by Dakota Rae Dust

Every Dakota Rae Dust piece is created from Bec’s home studio in Montpelier, using second-hand fabrics and her amazing embellishment skills to create textured pieces that are impossible to recreate.

“I will often choose something old over something new,” Bec says. “I love knowing that I’m giving something that would potential go to waste a new life, and avoid using things that could have a negative impact on the planet.”

Mixing found materials with new, good quality components, like the zips used on her statement clutch purses, Bec produces her pieces to a high standard that will stand the test of time.

 

Neon Coral fringe geometrical earrings £25 (left) and a hand embellished sweatshirt £75 (right) ornately decorated with costume jewellery.

“My pieces aren’t especially trend-led and definitely aren’t designed to be discarded after a season. I want to offer an alternative to the high street’s wasteful approach,” says Bec.

Supporting slow fashion is a big part of the Dakota Rae Dust ethos. There is a lot taken into consideration when she thinks about adding new pieces to the range – which can be quite difficult for a naturally creative person to keep control of.

“By nature I am quite chaotic in my approach to making,” Bec admits. “I can get side tracked, making one-offs and unrepeatable designs, which are great fun to create but not profitable at all. Due to the nature of my materials and the quantities I find them in, I work in very limited runs and have tended to release pieces as and when I make them.”

Colourful Tassle earrings handmade using vinyl cuts, acylic jewels and neon tassles £34

Despite these challenges, Dakota Rae Dust released two official jewellery collections last year. “I am still training myself to be more disciplined and work in this more structured fashion,” Bec says.

Two more collections are in the works this year, with one to be released at the beginning of the summer and another in early autumn. Fresh creations will also pop up regularly on the Dakota Rae Dust website throughout the year, alongside bespoke, customised pieces that are becoming firm favourites.

These pieces are all embellished to order with the option to change colourways, applique fabrics and trims including ornate costume jewellery, African print cottons, vintage fabrics, ribbons and vinyls. Prices range from £75 for hand-embellished sweatshirts to £14 for the personalised handcrafted rosettes.

 

Dakota Rae Dust designer, Bec Denton wearing one her of fabuous embellished bib necklaces (left) and greeting cards (right) featuring the signature handmade rosette design.

“I source fabrics on eBay, from house clearances, recycling centres, kilo sales, brocantes and charity shops – and, most recently, from a very generous friend’s attic!” says Bec. “I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to fabric. I often use an especially inspiring second-hand fabric find as a starting point for a new collection, then over several weeks keep my eyes peeled for fabrics and colours that compliment it. I’ll select vinyl for my prints and any haberdashery and trims that I’d like to include.

“Once I have everything I need, I have a giant, grown up’s fuzzy felt session, playing with colour, texture combinations and the composition for my printed components. I design all my own shapes and patterns and vinyl print them onto fabric. I try to create a cohesive collection of pieces that cover a range of prices.”

Bec started her slow fashion brand Dakota Rae Dust in 2013, whilst working at various fashion-based jobs in London, including the swatch company Westcott Design and small rave wear company Couch UK.

“It was just a hobby that I ran alongside my day jobs,” she says. “My only requirements were that it covered its own costs and gave me a fun, creative outlet. I think the rave wear job probably inspired my love of neon and use of bright colours!

“The last year has been more serious, as I have attempted to turn it into a profitable business and work on it full time.”

Upcycling a sweatshirt with handsewn embellishments

Originally from Bath, Bec is happy to be settled back in the West Country and part of the Bristol creative scene: “I love Bristol’s style! We have some amazing indie businesses making some awesome fashion. I think there’s a good, relaxed, ‘anything goes’ vibe when it comes to fashion in Bristol. It’s not unusual to see outfits that would look equally at home in a festival field. You might see bold prints teamed with sequins or an incredible pair of statement leggings, but equally there’s none of the pressure to ‘dress up’ for a night out that you might feel in other cities – at least not anywhere I go out!

“I spotted someone wearing a tail at Montpelier Station on Monday! Only in Bristol!” laughs Bec. “Slinging on a pair of my fluoro statement tassel earrings will always lift my mood too. Fashion should be fun and we have a lot of promoters of that in our city. I’m inspired by anyone who lives by that rule.”

With so much creativity and inspiration out there, people in Bristol are not afraid to go it alone and start their own businesses, often working a day job to sustain their new projects. What support has Bec found in Bristol and what is she looking forward to in 2019?

“Bristol does love an indie business,” she says. “I feel proud to be part of a city that puts so much value on sustainability, and exceptionally lucky for all the support I get. It’s always exciting to hear customers telling me they saw a pair of my tassel earrings being worn by another customer. It makes me really happy that my products are instantly recognisable, and this has helped me a lot.

“Bristol has a great creative community too. I work alone at home but I feel a part of a large network of makers who all support and cheer each other on.

“This year I’m going to be continuing my mission to streamline my design process and will be bringing out some extra accessories for this summer’s festival season. The bib necklaces were very popular towards the end of last year so you’ll be seeing more of those, and my statement tassels and fringing will still feature heavily too. It’s going to be a productive year!”

 

Find out more about Dakota Rae Dust

Main image by Margo R Photography

 

Read our Fashion Editor Emma’s blog No Debutante

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