Sarah Ditty is a Responsible Adult

Sarah Ditty is a Responsible Adult

NP
November 29, 2018

Second in our ‘Responsible Adult’ series is Sarah Ditty, Head of Policy at Fashion Revolution. She’s the trailblazer responsible for publishing the annual Fashion Transparency Index. Through exposing fashion’s major player’s socio-environmental practices and encouraging consumer awareness, the F.T.I. is the vanguard pushing the industry towards accountability. She says her success has been ‘serendipitous’. She’s being modest. Hard work and humility combined with a sense of humour and ‘70s-mafia-moll-style is not to be underestimated...

Fashion Revolution began as a direct response to the tragic Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh where over 1000 people died. I have been there from the start, five years ago. My role is to lead on advocating change within the global industry and governments. I am responsible for our annual Fashion Transparency Index, a review of how much information major fashion brands and retailers disclose about their social and environmental practices. I am hugely passionate about changing the culture of fashion, challenging consumers to be more mindful about what they wear and to ask more questions of the brands they buy.

"We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes.”

I get up at 7am every morning and I always start the day by reading the news with a cup of coffee. I am obsessed with current affairs, politics and the economy. I start work from home at about 8.30, which means I don’t have to wear suits or business attire, so I typically go for comfort first. I spend a lot of my time on video conference calls, so I tend to opt for a dress or shirt with an interesting texture and nothing with a busy pattern as it can distract on video. This is why Ninety Percent is the perfect go-to brand for me. I love the knitwear, especially when my house gets chilly in autumn and winter, and the jersey and Tencel staples are perfect for my low maintenance work environment.

I’ve had a very unusual career path; I sort of made it up as I went along. I started out my life as a dancer. At university I was a makeup artist, fashion stylist, activist and community organiser. During university I became very engaged in social and environmental justice issues, which is where my interest in sustainability and ethics first took root. I moved to London in 2008 to do a Masters in international development at SOAS. After finishing, I started writing a blog called Launderette in 2009, which was solely focused on sustainable fashion. It was my outlet to explore a lot of the burning questions I had about materials, manufacturing and brands that were trying to take a more sustainable approach. This is how my journey as a journalist first began, and I have since written about sustainability in fashion for the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, The Guardian and CNN. It was all very serendipitous being able to find middle ground between these seemingly very different disciplines and industries.

Failure is such an important and useful part of life. This is one of the key lessons you learn through studying to become an accomplished dancer. When you fall or fumble, you pick yourself up and keep trying until you get it right. Plus, you’re going through audition after audition and constantly being rejected. You learn very fast not to take failure personally but rather use it as fuel to do even better the next time. I have carried this mindset through my entire life. Failure is never a nice feeling but I have probably learned more by failing at things than by achieving them. You learn resilience, you have to self reflect and figure out how you can best move forward.

I was a dancer from three-years-old - ballet, modern, musical theatre, Hip Hop. I danced semi-professionally in my late teens and early twenties but decided that it wasn't what I wanted to do professionally forever. Otherwise, when I was growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. Part of me still does. You’re never too old, right?

We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes. At Fashion Revolution we believe that change in the fashion industry needs to happen at three levels — cultural, industry and policy. Human rights abuses and environmental degradation is rife across the global fashion industry. There’s also a shocking lack of transparency when it comes to supply chains. Sometimes big brands are unaware of the places where their clothes are being made. Where’s the accountability? This is how Rana Plaza happened. This is why Fashion Revolution is campaigning for a safer, fairer, cleaner and more transparent fashion industry. We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes.

"To me, sustainability means being able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

Our biggest achievement to date has literally been sparking a global movement of people who want to see this change happen. Last year, over 2.5 million people got involved in Fashion Revolution somehow, whether that was by attending an event, watching a video, listening to our podcast, reading our zines or emailing their favourite brands with questions about their practices. True people power! My hope for the future is that more and more citizens and consumers will speak out and take action to create a more sustainable and ethical future for fashion.

It may sound a little clichéd but my work colleagues and my family both hugely empower me. I couldn’t achieve much without a good team — that’s true for work and for everyday life. I am lucky enough to work with extremely visionary, competent, creative and capable people. When they deliver great work, it inspires me to do my best. When they lend a helping hand, support me on a project, give me good advice and offer constructive feedback, this takes away any fear I have in achieving my goals. My family and friends’ unconditional love and support make me feel like a superhero, like I can do anything I set my mind to.

To me sustainability means being able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. When I talk to folks about sustainable fashion, I usually say that it’s all about restoring the environment and maximising benefits to communities. I do realise that ‘sustainability’ means many different things to people and appreciate that it is used for disingenuous ‘greenwashing’ reasons. But I think it’s still a really important concept that people can get behind. It’s a word that maybe opens up doors to people going further into understanding some of the more nuanced complexities of what it’s going to take to ensure our world meets people’s needs in the future.

My husband describes my style as “1970’s Italian mafia wife,” which I think he means something like Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Scarface. He’s probably spot on. I do love a bit of gold jewellery and leopard print! I mostly wear black and winged eyeliner. Some of my other style icons are Patricia Arquette in the film True Romance, Bianca Jagger, Brigitte Bardot, Lauren Bacall and Alison Mosshart from the band The Kills.

I am hugely inspired by human rights defenders; they all take incredible risks to stand up for what they believe is right and just. At the moment, I deeply admire Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year old young woman running for U.S Congress, who is fighting for universal healthcare, and Ayanna Pressley, the 44-year old African American Bostonian city councillor recently elected to The House of Representatives. Mhairi Black, the 23-year-old Member of UK Parliament is incredibly brave and talented. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elizabeth Warren, Winona LaDuke, the three women who founded Black Lives Matter, Wangari Maathi, Nazma Akter and Kalpona Akter. My parents, my grandparents, my husband and a few of my closest friends also inspire me hugely in more practical and supportive ways.

Quick Fire Three

Most overused phrase?

“Uff da” - a phrase from Scandinavian immigrants who settled in Midwestern America. I was born and raised in Minnesota, so this phrase is practically in my blood. You would say “uff da” when you’re annoyed at something, surprised by something, disgusted by something or if you’re overworked or tired. When I was a child, my great aunt gave me a whole set of stationary with a letter heading that said “uff da.” Haha!

What is your screensaver?

I don’t have one, so this must mean I am really boring!

Favourite joke?

I am obsessed with The New Yorker cartoons. This one is a personal favourite: link (https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2017-in-review/instagrams-favorite-new-yorker-cartoons-of-2017)

Second in our ‘Responsible Adult’ series is Sarah Ditty, Head of Policy at Fashion Revolution. She’s the trailblazer responsible for publishing the annual Fashion Transparency Index. Through exposing fashion’s major player’s socio-environmental practices and encouraging consumer awareness, the F.T.I. is the vanguard pushing the industry towards accountability. She says her success has been ‘serendipitous’. She’s being modest. Hard work and humility combined with a sense of humour and ‘70s-mafia-moll-style is not to be underestimated...

Fashion Revolution began as a direct response to the tragic Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh where over 1000 people died. I have been there from the start, five years ago. My role is to lead on advocating change within the global industry and governments. I am responsible for our annual Fashion Transparency Index, a review of how much information major fashion brands and retailers disclose about their social and environmental practices. I am hugely passionate about changing the culture of fashion, challenging consumers to be more mindful about what they wear and to ask more questions of the brands they buy.

"We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes.”

I get up at 7am every morning and I always start the day by reading the news with a cup of coffee. I am obsessed with current affairs, politics and the economy. I start work from home at about 8.30, which means I don’t have to wear suits or business attire, so I typically go for comfort first. I spend a lot of my time on video conference calls, so I tend to opt for a dress or shirt with an interesting texture and nothing with a busy pattern as it can distract on video. This is why Ninety Percent is the perfect go-to brand for me. I love the knitwear, especially when my house gets chilly in autumn and winter, and the jersey and Tencel staples are perfect for my low maintenance work environment.

I’ve had a very unusual career path; I sort of made it up as I went along. I started out my life as a dancer. At university I was a makeup artist, fashion stylist, activist and community organiser. During university I became very engaged in social and environmental justice issues, which is where my interest in sustainability and ethics first took root. I moved to London in 2008 to do a Masters in international development at SOAS. After finishing, I started writing a blog called Launderette in 2009, which was solely focused on sustainable fashion. It was my outlet to explore a lot of the burning questions I had about materials, manufacturing and brands that were trying to take a more sustainable approach. This is how my journey as a journalist first began, and I have since written about sustainability in fashion for the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, The Guardian and CNN. It was all very serendipitous being able to find middle ground between these seemingly very different disciplines and industries.

Failure is such an important and useful part of life. This is one of the key lessons you learn through studying to become an accomplished dancer. When you fall or fumble, you pick yourself up and keep trying until you get it right. Plus, you’re going through audition after audition and constantly being rejected. You learn very fast not to take failure personally but rather use it as fuel to do even better the next time. I have carried this mindset through my entire life. Failure is never a nice feeling but I have probably learned more by failing at things than by achieving them. You learn resilience, you have to self reflect and figure out how you can best move forward.

I was a dancer from three-years-old - ballet, modern, musical theatre, Hip Hop. I danced semi-professionally in my late teens and early twenties but decided that it wasn't what I wanted to do professionally forever. Otherwise, when I was growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. Part of me still does. You’re never too old, right?

We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes. At Fashion Revolution we believe that change in the fashion industry needs to happen at three levels — cultural, industry and policy. Human rights abuses and environmental degradation is rife across the global fashion industry. There’s also a shocking lack of transparency when it comes to supply chains. Sometimes big brands are unaware of the places where their clothes are being made. Where’s the accountability? This is how Rana Plaza happened. This is why Fashion Revolution is campaigning for a safer, fairer, cleaner and more transparent fashion industry. We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes.

"To me, sustainability means being able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

Our biggest achievement to date has literally been sparking a global movement of people who want to see this change happen. Last year, over 2.5 million people got involved in Fashion Revolution somehow, whether that was by attending an event, watching a video, listening to our podcast, reading our zines or emailing their favourite brands with questions about their practices. True people power! My hope for the future is that more and more citizens and consumers will speak out and take action to create a more sustainable and ethical future for fashion.

It may sound a little clichéd but my work colleagues and my family both hugely empower me. I couldn’t achieve much without a good team — that’s true for work and for everyday life. I am lucky enough to work with extremely visionary, competent, creative and capable people. When they deliver great work, it inspires me to do my best. When they lend a helping hand, support me on a project, give me good advice and offer constructive feedback, this takes away any fear I have in achieving my goals. My family and friends’ unconditional love and support make me feel like a superhero, like I can do anything I set my mind to.

To me sustainability means being able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. When I talk to folks about sustainable fashion, I usually say that it’s all about restoring the environment and maximising benefits to communities. I do realise that ‘sustainability’ means many different things to people and appreciate that it is used for disingenuous ‘greenwashing’ reasons. But I think it’s still a really important concept that people can get behind. It’s a word that maybe opens up doors to people going further into understanding some of the more nuanced complexities of what it’s going to take to ensure our world meets people’s needs in the future.

My husband describes my style as “1970’s Italian mafia wife,” which I think he means something like Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Scarface. He’s probably spot on. I do love a bit of gold jewellery and leopard print! I mostly wear black and winged eyeliner. Some of my other style icons are Patricia Arquette in the film True Romance, Bianca Jagger, Brigitte Bardot, Lauren Bacall and Alison Mosshart from the band The Kills.

I am hugely inspired by human rights defenders; they all take incredible risks to stand up for what they believe is right and just. At the moment, I deeply admire Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year old young woman running for U.S Congress, who is fighting for universal healthcare, and Ayanna Pressley, the 44-year old African American Bostonian city councillor recently elected to The House of Representatives. Mhairi Black, the 23-year-old Member of UK Parliament is incredibly brave and talented. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elizabeth Warren, Winona LaDuke, the three women who founded Black Lives Matter, Wangari Maathi, Nazma Akter and Kalpona Akter. My parents, my grandparents, my husband and a few of my closest friends also inspire me hugely in more practical and supportive ways.

Quick Fire Three

 

Most overused phrase?

“Uff da” - a phrase from Scandinavian immigrants who settled in Midwestern America. I was born and raised in Minnesota, so this phrase is practically in my blood. You would say “uff da” when you’re annoyed at something, surprised by something, disgusted by something or if you’re overworked or tired. When I was a child, my great aunt gave me a whole set of stationary with a letter heading that said “uff da.” Haha!

What is your screensaver?

I don’t have one, so this must mean I am really boring!

Favourite joke?

I am obsessed with The New Yorker cartoons. This one is a personal favourite: link (https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2017-in-review/instagrams-favorite-new-yorker-cartoons-of-2017)

Second in our ‘Responsible Adult’ series is Sarah Ditty, Head of Policy at Fashion Revolution. She’s the trailblazer responsible for publishing the annual Fashion Transparency Index. Through exposing fashion’s major player’s socio-environmental practices and encouraging consumer awareness, the F.T.I. is the vanguard pushing the industry towards accountability. She says her success has been ‘serendipitous’. She’s being modest. Hard work and humility combined with a sense of humour and ‘70s-mafia-moll-style is not to be underestimated...

Fashion Revolution began as a direct response to the tragic Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh where over 1000 people died. I have been there from the start, five years ago. My role is to lead on advocating change within the global industry and governments. I am responsible for our annual Fashion Transparency Index, a review of how much information major fashion brands and retailers disclose about their social and environmental practices. I am hugely passionate about changing the culture of fashion, challenging consumers to be more mindful about what they wear and to ask more questions of the brands they buy.

" We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes.”

I get up at 7am every morning and I always start the day by reading the news with a cup of coffee. I am obsessed with current affairs, politics and the economy. I start work from home at about 8.30, which means I don’t have to wear suits or business attire, so I typically go for comfort first. I spend a lot of my time on video conference calls, so I tend to opt for a dress or shirt with an interesting texture and nothing with a busy pattern as it can distract on video. This is why Ninety Percent is the perfect go-to brand for me. I love the knitwear, especially when my house gets chilly in autumn and winter, and the jersey and Tencel staples are perfect for my low maintenance work environment.

I’ve had a very unusual career path; I sort of made it up as I went along. I started out my life as a dancer. At university I was a makeup artist, fashion stylist, activist and community organiser. During university I became very engaged in social and environmental justice issues, which is where my interest in sustainability and ethics first took root. I moved to London in 2008 to do a Masters in international development at SOAS. After finishing, I started writing a blog called Launderette in 2009, which was solely focused on sustainable fashion. It was my outlet to explore a lot of the burning questions I had about materials, manufacturing and brands that were trying to take a more sustainable approach. This is how my journey as a journalist first began, and I have since written about sustainability in fashion for the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, The Guardian and CNN. It was all very serendipitous being able to find middle ground between these seemingly very different disciplines and industries.

Failure is such an important and useful part of life. This is one of the key lessons you learn through studying to become an accomplished dancer. When you fall or fumble, you pick yourself up and keep trying until you get it right. Plus, you’re going through audition after audition and constantly being rejected. You learn very fast not to take failure personally but rather use it as fuel to do even better the next time. I have carried this mindset through my entire life. Failure is never a nice feeling but I have probably learned more by failing at things than by achieving them. You learn resilience, you have to self reflect and figure out how you can best move forward.

I was a dancer from three-years-old - ballet, modern, musical theatre, Hip Hop. I danced semi-professionally in my late teens and early twenties but decided that it wasn't what I wanted to do professionally forever. Otherwise, when I was growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. Part of me still does. You’re never too old, right?

We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes. At Fashion Revolution we believe that change in the fashion industry needs to happen at three levels — cultural, industry and policy. Human rights abuses and environmental degradation is rife across the global fashion industry. There’s also a shocking lack of transparency when it comes to supply chains. Sometimes big brands are unaware of the places where their clothes are being made. Where’s the accountability? This is how Rana Plaza happened. This is why Fashion Revolution is campaigning for a safer, fairer, cleaner and more transparent fashion industry. We need to change the whole culture of fashion, the prevailing business model and the rules and standards that shape the industry and how we consume and use clothes.

" To me, sustainability means being able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

Our biggest achievement to date has literally been sparking a global movement of people who want to see this change happen. Last year, over 2.5 million people got involved in Fashion Revolution somehow, whether that was by attending an event, watching a video, listening to our podcast, reading our zines or emailing their favourite brands with questions about their practices. True people power! My hope for the future is that more and more citizens and consumers will speak out and take action to create a more sustainable and ethical future for fashion.

It may sound a little clichéd but my work colleagues and my family both hugely empower me. I couldn’t achieve much without a good team — that’s true for work and for everyday life. I am lucky enough to work with extremely visionary, competent, creative and capable people. When they deliver great work, it inspires me to do my best. When they lend a helping hand, support me on a project, give me good advice and offer constructive feedback, this takes away any fear I have in achieving my goals. My family and friends’ unconditional love and support make me feel like a superhero, like I can do anything I set my mind to.

To me sustainability means being able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. When I talk to folks about sustainable fashion, I usually say that it’s all about restoring the environment and maximising benefits to communities. I do realise that ‘sustainability’ means many different things to people and appreciate that it is used for disingenuous ‘greenwashing’ reasons. But I think it’s still a really important concept that people can get behind. It’s a word that maybe opens up doors to people going further into understanding some of the more nuanced complexities of what it’s going to take to ensure our world meets people’s needs in the future.

My husband describes my style as “1970’s Italian mafia wife,” which I think he means something like Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Scarface. He’s probably spot on. I do love a bit of gold jewellery and leopard print! I mostly wear black and winged eyeliner. Some of my other style icons are Patricia Arquette in the film True Romance, Bianca Jagger, Brigitte Bardot, Lauren Bacall and Alison Mosshart from the band The Kills.

I am hugely inspired by human rights defenders; they all take incredible risks to stand up for what they believe is right and just. At the moment, I deeply admire Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year old young woman running for U.S Congress, who is fighting for universal healthcare, and Ayanna Pressley, the 44-year old African American Bostonian city councillor recently elected to The House of Representatives. Mhairi Black, the 23-year-old Member of UK Parliament is incredibly brave and talented. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elizabeth Warren, Winona LaDuke, the three women who founded Black Lives Matter, Wangari Maathi, Nazma Akter and Kalpona Akter. My parents, my grandparents, my husband and a few of my closest friends also inspire me hugely in more practical and supportive ways.

Quick Fire Three

Most overused phrase?

“Uff da” - a phrase from Scandinavian immigrants who settled in Midwestern America. I was born and raised in Minnesota, so this phrase is practically in my blood. You would say “uff da” when you’re annoyed at something, surprised by something, disgusted by something or if you’re overworked or tired. When I was a child, my great aunt gave me a whole set of stationary with a letter heading that said “uff da.” Haha!

What is your screensaver?

I don’t have one, so this must mean I am really boring!

Favourite joke?

I am obsessed with The New Yorker cartoons. This one is a personal favourite: link (https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2017-in-review/instagrams-favorite-new-yorker-cartoons-of-2017)