"The Journey Beyond Fashion" - Ditta Sandico

“The Journey Beyond Fashion” by Ditta Sandico

Interview by Rebecca Torres

Images by DITTA SANDICO





Ditta Sandico (DS) is the Wrap Artiste of the Philippines and a modern Filipiniana fashion

designer who creatively transforms indigenous fibers into unique designs of beautiful

wraps and colourful accessories.


She is multi awarded, a 2022 Gawad Yamang Isip Awardee, recognized in the WIN Con-

ference (Women’s international Networking), in the Philippine AGORA Awards in 2016 for

her Outstanding Achievement in Entrepreneurship - Small Scale Winner and a TOWNS

awardee from the Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service Foundation.


What significant events in your life spurred your interest in the art of weaving

natural fibers?


At the young age, our family vacation is spent in our country home with a cattle farm in

Oriental Mindoro. During those trips, I was immersed on the intricacies of the art of

weaving by the indigenous Hanunuo Mangyans in the mountains of Bulalacao in Oriental

Mindoro.


After I graduated from the Wood Tobe Coburn Fashion School in New York, I pioneered in transforming the lowly abel, the blanket fabric sold in the Ilocos market, into fashionable daytime and evening wear, working with weavers from Santiago, Ilocos Sur to produce blue and white printed abel and later developed plaids, stripes and geometric patterns.


Collaborating with weaver, Elisa Reyes of Santiago and embroiderers from Bulacan in the

late 80s, I diversified into dressy clothes and barong tagalog using pina-lino. A few years later, I met Virgilio Apanti, a weaver from Catanduanes, who showed me his samples of abaca weaving. Working with artisans in a cooperative in Baras, Catanduanes, we provided training on natural dye extraction and advanced weaving techniques, making the abaca fabric silkier, more pliable and colourful. This collaborative effort provided a sustainable livelihood to the women of over 200 families, thus, greatly contributing in the socio-economic status of the fishing village in Catanduanes. This is part of our corporate social responsibility in contributing in our own way in building the economy.


What are the natural fibers/materials that you have handpicked and experimented

on which are the main fabrics in your designs?


We have been developing natural fabrics which are unmistakably Filipino, produced by local craftsmen in the Philippines, coming from Ilocos, Catanduanes and Mindoro. Among these natural fabrics are the pina-lino (delicate pineapple fiber and linen), banaca (combination of banana and abaca fibers) abel-iloco (Ilokano handwoven cotton yarn), banana-rayon, Mangyan habol (fabric made of cotton) and the seda-lino (silk-linen).


What is your design concepts for Ditta Sandico Wraps and Accessories?


My designs are simple yet elegant and timeless, colourful, stylish and subtly exotic with a worldwide appeal. Classic wraps can be worn in many novel ways of layering, tying, twirling, twisting and knotting. We adapt modern concepts and modify traditional fashion designs to fit the lifestyles of today’s women from across the globe. DITTA’s collection consists of clutches, evening bags and wrist bags and hats in glowing, rich colours made of banana fiber which has a natural structural form. The designs are stylish and finely detailed. The use of Philippine wood, mother of pearl and elements such as plaited ethnic motifs present its Philippine origin but with a universal appeal.


 

Our New Collections


La Foglia Wrap



Valeria Wrap



Bolero Lala



Florentina



Yolanda



Bonita



Marita

 

How did you overcome the challenges in your business during the two-year lockdown due to the pandemic?


It was really a period of change of mindset in our business model. Our traditional in- store retail outlets in the malls had to be closed because of less demand due to strict health protocols and shift to virtual events. However, we had to continue, on a lesser scale, as so many rely on our business like the weavers where our orders of the hand- woven banaca fabrics are their only source of livelihood.


To respond to the call of the times in showcasing our designs, we went into social media thru online selling, setting up Twitter, Facebook (DittaSandicoOfficial) and Instagram

(@dittasandico) accounts and set up a company website (www.dittachannel.com).


What are your exciting plans with the opening up of the market and the resumption of face to face events?


In 2021, with more time in my hands, I re-discovered my love for painting when I was younger. As a visual artist, I executed my creative ideas artistically incorporating the materials of handwoven fabrics of my wrap designs into my paintings. The appreciation of my paintings by my clients has been encouraging.


“The Journey beyond Fashion” is my passion which I express in my designs and which I impart as a speaker in various forums - that we Filipinos should be proud to showcase our Philippine roots with the fashionable Filipiniana designs where-ever we may be - in the Philippines or anywhere around the world.


Visit Ditta Sandico on Facebook or dittachannel.com to view Ditta’s latest Filipiniana

Wraps and Accessories designs and or inquiries on retail orders and wholesale

distributorship.