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A collection of articles featuring the journeys of Ditta Sandico in her fashion career. 


Filtering by Tag: sustainable fashion

Textifood: food for clothing

Ditta Sandico Channel

The Milan 2015 exposition, which has been running for the last six months, has seen 140 countries showcasing its most innovative and effective technologies that could provide solutions to one of the biggest global problems – guaranteeing everyone healthy, safe and sufficient food without harming the balance of the planet.

But it wasn’t the solution to this problem that really caught the attention of so many people.  And it wasn’t just one problem that was solved but two.

Fashion, as with all industry, has a responsibility to give back what it takes. And what does the industry take most of? Natural fibres – used to create the clothing we wear. With companies now pouring money into research and development schemes, it seems we have found a solution – clothes made from food.

This may sound like something only Lady Gaga could pull off, but this is slightly more innovative than the infamous meat dress. Within the expo, Pavilion France together with Lille Europe put on the incredibly successful exhibition entitled Textifood, with the objective to demonstrate the different possibilities of creating textiles from the food waste industry.

Roughly one third (approximately 1.3bn tonnes) of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets wasted. And with it taking approximately 7,000L of water to produce a single pair of jeans and 2,700L to produce one shirt, not to mention the long process of dying the fibres, this innovative way of creating textiles could be the answer to two major sustainability problems the world has.

Lille3000, a cultural programme within the city of Lille, sought out designers and stylists to produce designs using fibres that have been harvested in part or solely from food residues. Such tasty fibres included orange, lemon, pineapple, banana, coconut, nettles, algae, mushroom, coffee, rice, soya, maize, beet, wine, beer, fish and shellfish.

“These textile fibres come from all continents,” said a Lille3000 spokesperson. “They are studied by researchers around the world to meet the needs of an increasingly responsible world.”

Designers such as Em Riem and Ditta Sandico created dresses made from banana silk fibre. The produced fabric has a silky finish, is flexible and waterproof, and is already in use in Japan, Nepal and the Philippines.

Other designers such as Christine Phung and Moragne Baroghel-Crucq collaborated to create an organic dress made from metal thread, flax yarns and fish collagen. While eco clothing brand, L’Herbe Rouge, made clothing created entirely from coffee – weaved, dyed and finished in a coffee bath.

This kind of technology is still in the early stages of development but it does give us a hopeful insight into the types of alternative textiles available. Sustainability in many industries through collaboration is now a reality and effectively provides us with many solutions to the world’s problems. The future suddenly looks (and tastes) a little bit better now.

Filipino designer’s local weaves featured in Amsterdam museum

Ditta Sandico Channel

Filipina fashion designer Ditta Sandico is a featured artist of the Tassen Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Sandico’s collection of handbags is on display at the museum from Nov. 4 to Jan. 25, 2015. The Tassen Museum houses the world’s foremost collection of bags.

The Embassy of the Philippines in The Hague, in cooperation with the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Amsterdam, together with the Tassen Museum, organized the exhibit opening on Nov. 3. The mini fashion show had models carrying samples of Sandico’s products and performing a traditional ceremonial dance clad in her famed wraps.

Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Jaime Victor B. Ledda described Sandico’s designs and products as clear illustrations of the marriage between concept, innovation and the use of indigenous materials. He added that what was truly groundbreaking was how plant fibers can be converted into an array of bags, wraps and clothing accessories. “But that is what Ditta has done and continues to do: innovate in the world of fashion,” Ledda said.

For years Sandico has embraced an ecologically friendly design and production process. She has continued to make use of and transform natural plant fibers such as banana and abaca—banaca—into fashion art forms. The Sandico design is considered both innovative and timeless and is noted for its elegance.

Her advocacy on the use of local materials has helped elevate natural plant fibers and inspired an appreciation for the use of these materials in the fashion industry. This has generated the needed support for the weaving industry in the Philippines, where a considerable number of operations are located in the provinces.


That’s a wrap: In vogue

Ditta Sandico Channel

A new creation that is set to make environmentalists happy and the fashionistas curious is emerging from the Philippines and is slowly making its way across Europe and the UAE.

The wraps, made from the natural fibre of abaca (known globally as Manila hemp), has been trending in the Philippines for the past years with local women celebrities, as well as, diplomats abroad wearing them.

A brain-child by Dita Sandico Ong, a well-known Filipino fashion designer and owner of Cache Apparel, the “pieces of fabric” can be wrapped around like shawls and used as accessories or as complement to an outfit.

“They are very versatile you can wear them in several ways. One piece of wrap can be worn in six to eight different ways, or even more, depending on your own creativity,” explained Ong.

She was in Abu Dhabi and Dubai this week to present her signature creation after a promotional trip to Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, where she held several fashion shows.

Speaking to Khaleej Times about her aspiration, Ong said: “I would think that this fabric is now getting its place... It’s now getting into high fashion and looks like eventually reaching the (European and UAE) markets.”

“And I think it’s pioneering because we are really trying to break through the market just now,” she added.

The banana-like plant, abaca, comes from the banana family and is indigenous to the Philippines. Abaca fibre is obtained from the leaf sheath and considered three times stronger than cotton, and its fat content more resistant to salt water decomposition, making abaca suitable for the production of specialty papers (such as currency paper and cheques), ropes, furniture and textile/fabrics.

“I’m probably leading the pack of designers who can actually experiment and draw from this fabric so much potential,” stated Ong who has worked with powerful Filipino women that included broadcast journalists Mel Tiangco and Corina Sanchez, and Filipino amabassadress.

The idea to create a wrap out of the abaca fabric came out of “desperation”. Ong related how she fell in love with the fabric and couldn’t bear the thought of cutting it for apparel.

“So I wrapped it around myself, looked in front of the mirror and I danced. I was just making it run through me, feeling the energy. It felt very soulful,” she said.

What makes the banana-abaca wrap different?

“It is very unique; quite exotic, because not everyone has seen this fabric. It has its own sheen. If you notice, the fibre is silky silvery and has its own structure,” Ong explained.

Through mix and match, or combination, the wrap also creates that “new look”, evolving the Filipiniana (traditional formal wear) style into the twenty-first-century fashion.

“This one has more edge and can be worn on formal or casual occasion. And it comes in different colours (through natural dyes),” said Ong.

And because of its natural composition, the fabric “breathes” making it ideal for tropical climates. “It is nice to actually have air moving around you,” Ong pointed out.

“On the other hand if it gets too cold, you can wear thermal underwear and long sleeves. You can top it with a pretty scarf and you’re off to another country,” she added.

Another important element of the wrap is that it can be worn by everyone.

“We don’t have a size, it fits all sizes. No limitations in terms of who can wear it,” the designer pointed out, adding that because it is lightweight, you can easily pack or roll this in your suitcase or hand bag when travelling.

It is also very easy to maintain. You can handwash it using a mild soap and water, hang to dry and press using a flat iron. It doesn’t require dry cleaning. And because it doesn’t get brittle, the lifespan of a wrap can go down generations “as long as you care for it and you don’t cut,” cautioned Ong.

However, with price tag ranging from €100-500 (Dh470- 2,350), Ong’s creation is not for everybody.

“It has a niche market; it’s the upper crust, and mid-level too, because a lot of women in the offices and a lot of balikbayans (overseas Filipinos), the diplomatic corps and celebraties like to wear these things,” she said.

And that’s for a very good cause too, as the abaca textile gets woven the traditional way, thus creating livelihood and sustainable income for the villagers in Catanduanes, a province in the Philippines’ Bicol Region. The use of abaca also helps spur the fibre industry and bolsters the country’s cultural heritage through the conventional weaving process.

Ong said this is her way of giving back to the community.

Grace Relucio-Princesa, Philippines ambassador to the UAE, underscored the importance of creating job opportunities in distant provinces that could impact the financial status of the family.

She said that local economic development would help minimise the outflow of Filipino migrants and potentially “make migration by choice” in future.

“These are dreams that we are weaving together and hope to help humanity in future by giving more livelihood projects,” said Ong.

In additon to banana-abaca, Ong also works with a combination of other natural fibres in her creations. These include pineapple and linen or “piñalina”, and pineapple with silk or “pinyasilk”.

Asked if she would consider designing apparels suitable for Arab women using natural fabrics, “I’m sure we can toy with some ideas,” Ong simply said.

For now, she is looking at tying-up with other designers here and perhaps hold a fashion show in future.

Dita Sandico's fashion show: Filipiniana flirting with unorthodox

Ditta Sandico Channel

Filipino designer Dita Sandico-Ong is set to amaze fashionistas in New York where she will hold this month a fashion show titled "Czarist Charms: Filipiniana Flirting with the Unorthodox."

Ong, best known for handmade Philippine textiles, will present yet another inventive collection at the Philippine Center on February 17, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

The event will be attended by the cognoscenti of New York, Filipina magnates in New York led by Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis, the Philippine ambassador to the United Nations, Libran Cabactulan, together with wife, Fe Cabactulan, and Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. and his wife Mrs. Eleanor de Leon.

Ong will present her new line of unique and versatile wraps for her spring/summer collection.

For the fashion show, she experimented with new creations using indigenous materials mostly coming from the province of Catanduanes. These wraps are versatile, transforming themselves into capes, opera coats and headdresses.

The title of her show — Czarist Charms — suggests a somewhat anarchic concept of the Filipiniana fabric wrapping itself around the world of the Russian empire, a distant conception now within reach.

Ong always tries to unravel new stories about worlds beyond our own, but she always connects them to something that is truly local — Filipino craftsmanship at its finest.

Ong's wrap artiste has been featured all over the world, including Paris, Milan, Rome, Tokyo and Budapest.

In New York, her fashion masterpieces can be found at the Asia Society Store and the METropolitan Opera. - VVP, GMA News