This entrepreneur is bringing sustainable alternative to athleisure and dancewear with The Ido Movement

Dubai-based The Ido Movement was born out of Sandhya Lalloo-Morar’s love for dance and fashion, and the wish to contribute to the community.

This entrepreneur is bringing sustainable alternative to athleisure and dancewear with The Ido Movement

Wednesday March 15, 2023,

4 min Read

Sandhya Lalloo-Morar’s childhood revolved around two things—dancing at the community dance school run by her father and making cute clothes for her pets and later for community events. 

Born to Indian immigrant parents during the apartheid era in South Africa, Lalloo-Morar’s father, a doctor, wanted to keep the Indian roots alive in the community. In 1986, when he launched a dance school for the community, his young daughter tagged along to learn semi-classical dance and Kathak along with other children in the community.  

Apart from her interest in dance, Lalloo-Morar also started making dresses for her pets when she was just five years old. Soon at the age of 12, she found herself designing costumes with her parents for events organised within her small community.

Today, Lalloo-Morar has combined her love for fashion design and dance to build The Ido Movement, a sustainable activewear brand. “Ido” (pronounced as “Ee-Doh”) refers to shift or motion in Japanese. 

Lalloo-Morar says she wanted to create a clothing brand that met the everyday needs of those who are constantly on the move. The brand, founded in 2020, also aims to create clothing pieces that has multiple purposes. 

“Today, there are so many brands that call themselves sustainable and end up launching multiple clothing lines within the same brand. The Ido Movement is trying to change this by making versatile clothes that can be worn at dance classes, gym, home, and even partywear,” says founder-director Lalloo-Morar. 

The Ido Movement uses sustainable raw materials to make clothes such as those made from bamboo, hemp, linen, econyl (nylon fibre made from nylon waste), and recycled polyethylene terphthalate (RPET). Some of the clothes made include pants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, leggings, and socks for dancers, and more. 

Another interesting thing: all the clothing pieces are named after different dancers who belong to The Ido Movement community. These dancers are from different parts of the world, with a majority of them belonging to the Middle East. 

Fashion schools versus current fashion

Lalloo-Morar has always believed that fashion is beyond just clothes. Having completed her master’s in fashion, with a specialisation in Japanese design, Lalloo-Morar always promoted minimal and seasonless designs.

While teaching Fashion Design at the University of Johannesburg, she felt the curriculum was not keeping up with the changing trends in fashion and was promoting fast fashion.

“I realised that I was preaching about sustainability and teaching students about ranges, illustrations, and fashion shows. There was no discussion in the fashion schools about how fashion can be sustainable, and how to adopt new technologies and change the world with fashion. That is when I decided to stop teaching and became a full-time fashion designer to teach people about sustainable fashion through my designs,” she recalls.

Lalloo-Morar began her first clothing line called SIN in South Africa in 2001, which she had to shut shop when she moved to Dubai. After working with different brands such as the Italian Shoe Factory, and Bareface Model Agency and then as a freelancer for almost 13 years, she picked up her entrepreneurial journey again with The Ido Movement in her 40s. 

Today, The Ido Movement is also in line with her belief that fashion does not mean keeping up with trends but is more purpose-driven. 

The apparel pieces are priced between $8.99 and $86.58 (AED 33 and AED 318) with an average basket size of two to three items. Operating with a small team of five members, including her husband, the bootstrapped brand is catering to customers spread across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and a few other parts of GCC, and across the US, the UK, Europe, and Asia. While it mostly operates virtually, customers can also find some of the products in a few dance schools across the UAE and Saudi.  

The products are manufactured across Indonesia, China, and Dubai.

The Ido Movement is among the likes of Los Angeles-based The Giving Movement, Dubai-based Glossy Lounge, and bigger brands like Nike and Adidas.

“Our real competition are those brands that preach about sustainability but are not practicing it. We need to change the mindset of the consumers that less can be more and introducing more clothing lines in the name of sustainability is not going to help,” Lalloo-Morar adds. 

Despite the initial hiccups of legal restrictions, licensure, and high rental cost, Lalloo-Morar found support and mentorship from programmes organised for upcoming entrepreneurs. One such programme was Virtuzone in 2020 where upcoming entrepreneurs were given virtual masterclasses to start, run, and grow their businesses. 

Future plans

Lalloo-Morar plans to consolidate the product offerings of The Ido Movement to improve the growth of its bestsellers. She feels that this will be another true step towards sustainability. 

She also plans to increase the proceeds that go to NGOs and support communities from The Ido Movement. 

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Edited by Megha Reddy