The helpful neighbour
Ditte Kristensen is originally from Denmark, and by way of Paris, she has brought an international flair to the Norwegian fashion industry, as one of the main forces behind Oslo Runway. The Norwegian fashion week is only a couple years old, but has already contributed to generous exposure of Norwegian design in international fashion magazines, as an important arena for designers to showcase their work. Oslo is still seen as the little sister of its Scandinavian siblings Stockholm and Copenhagen on the fashion front, but is definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with. We asked Ditte some questions on where she thinks we’re headed:
You’re in charge of organizing Oslo Runway, can you tell us a bit about what that entails?
Yes, I am the VP of Oslo Runway, and that entails incredibly many different things! There is nothing I don’t do, but often it is getting an overview and outsourcing what I can. I make sure that OR is on track, and at the same time, I make sure that those who work with OR on every level know what they should be doing.
Oslo Runway was started in 2015, how did it happen?
At the time, I was working as event manager at the PR agency This Is PR. I have previously arranged shows at Copenhagen Fashion Week, and that was something I for a long time had wanted to continue with. Luckily for me, Cathrine Stabel from L’Oreal Paris in Norway and This Is PR also wanted to support Norwegian fashion. That gave us a foundation, and when we arranged a pre-OR in March 2015, it was to test if the fashion industry and the media was ready for it. They were, and it just continued from there. We have had incredibly many extremely talented people working with us, who all have the same goal and wish of promoting Norwegian fashion and of continuing the development of the fashion industry in Norway.
Have you always been into fashion yourself, or was it the PR and event part of the job that made it a project you’re passionate about?
Ever since I lived in Paris, I have had an interest in the fashion industry; the hectic, the unattainable and the glamorous. When it turned into something different than what I first expected, it just made me even more enthusiastic about it!
Can you give us a short summary of the biggest challenges you face when planning such a huge event twice a year?
That would definitely be the fact that there are so many people involved, and the communication at all levels needs to be 100% clear. That is not always easy, sometimes it slips, but then you just have to learn from it so it doesn’t happen next season.
What’s your background, educationally and professionally, and how do you use it in your present job?
By education, I’m a Design Technologist specialised in Brand Building from the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology. Other than that, I have travelled a lot my whole life, and I love meeting new people. My education has provided me with a good foundation, not just in relation to developing Oslo Runway, but also small brands, and being able to assist them with the challenges they may face. I have also been an intern in incredibly many different parts of the fashion industry, and therefore find it easier to understand what the different staff are going through and helping them come up with solutions.
The former fashion week (Oslo Fashion Week) eventually had to close down, due to a decline in the quality of the runway shows and what many media outlets called «a desperate focus on celebrities». How are you working to make sure that that doesn’t happen with Oslo Runway?
We work incredibly hard and listen to constructive criticism about what the brands, sponsors and the industry want. It’s important to have a setup, but if you see that it doesn’t work, you have to re-evaluate and do things in a different way. It’s not just one way to the finish line, and I think challenges are part of what makes us improve. I don’t see things we haven’t accomplished as a failure, but as a lesson that we have to take a different route. The day I personally think that we’ve “made it,” is the day it’s time that someone else takes over my job, cause then we need some new input! To face challenges is positive, because we learn so much from it.
Very many people want to work in fashion, and may not know about all the alternatives that exist besides being a model, designer or blogger. Do you have any advice on alternative career paths?
Nowadays, all industries are very much based on networks. When I studied, I was an intern in the evenings and in the weekends, I went to any event I could go to, and mingled with the industry, with a goal of making everyone I met remember me. If there was an easy way to reach your goal, everyone would have done it. Learn from everything and don’t fall into negative thoughts if you don’t get the job or internship you applied for. Get back up again and continue applying!
What do you think about the discussion in the media after Oslo Runway now in August; do you miss «real street wear» and more individuality? Or is the sponsored street wear such an important part of fashion week today that it is not even up for discussion?
The fashion industry is absolutely one of those industries that moves the fastest and absorbs the newest trends. We are constantly developing, and it’s important to pay attention. The catwalk moving out to the streets is nothing new, and therefore, brands have become better at using that opportunity for attention, so it’s no longer random what we see. Everything is part of a bigger picture and it is important to understand that this isn’t new, we are just better at learning to working with it and see opportunities, that’s positive.
Who do you look up to, and why?
That’s a big question, and the answer changes relatively often, but the common denominator is strong women. And by strong women, I mean women who stand for being unique, dare to speak their minds, take chances, make a difference, show feelings and determination. Sophia Amoruso, Arianna Huffington, Lena Dunham, Sara Blakely, Eva Kruse, Emily Weiss, Malene Malling, et.al. – these are some women I get inspired by, either by SoMe, podcasts or books. I also look up to and admire the colleagues, friends and family that are close to me. They are absolutely an inspiration and an influence on my knowledge and values.
According to several sources, one of them Forbes, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world. Will the environmental aspect be included in Oslo Runway at some point?
One should never say never, and it is important that Oslo Runway pays attention to and assists the Norwegian fashion industry. I myself am a big fan of where the international fashion industry is going with a bigger focus on green alternatives, and I also hope that Oslo Runway will be part of that and contribute at some point.