Star Tech: Dancewear by day, partywear by evening

Sandhya Lalloo-Morar, a South African mum, has come up with a sustainable clothing brand that focuses on purpose, not trend.

By Mazhar Farooqui

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Sandhya Lalloo-Morar, founder of fashion brand The Idō Movement. Supplied photos
Sandhya Lalloo-Morar, founder of fashion brand The Idō Movement. Supplied photos

Published: Tue 1 Feb 2022, 4:11 PM

Last updated: Tue 1 Feb 2022, 6:27 PM

A South African mum in Dubai has merged her passion of dance and design to come up with a unique dance/activewear brand. Sandhya Lalloo-Morar’s The Idō Movement uses eco-friendly fabrics to create premium, minimalist and unisex clothing.

Khaleej Times caught up with the entrepreneur who aims to help shift consumer behaviour in the UAE towards eco-friendly lifestyle products at prices that are on par with the best.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

What is the Ido Movement all about?

Idō (“EE-doh”) is the Japanese word for movement, change or motion.⁠ Taking inspiration from the natural movement of the body, The Idō Movement was created to provide an alternative to athleisure and dancewear built on ethical manufacturing and striving for a net zero carbon footprint. Sustainability is the foundation of the brand, which entails ensuring the most effective fabric choice — be it clothing made of recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets or using organic fabrics such as hemp and bamboo.

What about design and useability?

Great focus is placed on the design to ensure it flows with the body. Multiple styles from the range can be used from morning to night given the properties of the fabric. Think of using a leotard on the dancefloor, at the pool or for a night out. Through this re-use, we could reduce our wardrobe needs, which, in turn, reduces the need for water and manufacturing. We also place great emphasis on creating unisex clothing to promote genderless clothing and encourage sharing. The brand adheres to ethical packaging using natural papers.

Each piece in the range is inspired by dancers in the Middle East. The effortless and graceful moves of dancers like Alaa Krimed, Lana Fahmi, Tomomi Aramaki and Rei Co, from the Sima Performing Arts, give inspiration to the design of the clothing, whilst providing a practical creation that works efficiently with the body.

We design and produce tops, shorts, bottoms, leotards, and socks in a variety of fabrics. For instance, the socks and T-shirts are made using bamboo fabric. Bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly fabrics on the planet as it requires minimal water. Its natural properties help with being highly sweat absorbent, hypoallergenic, offering UV protection and insulating against both cold and warm weather making it ideal for everyday wear.

For dance leotards, we picked a premium Italian fabric made from regenerated nylon. The yarns are made by recovering nylon waste such as fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps from mills and carpets destined for landfill – and turning them into virgin quality nylon yarn. Similarly, we use an American fabric made from recycled plastic bottles for active-wear. Our clientele is primarily made of active people looking for luxe comfort wear. Most have yet to make a sustainable purchase due to cost or quality, and our key focus is to provide them an eco-friendly alternative.

Where are these products manufactured?

The production is done in Asia. Fair trade practices are adhered to in factories, in line with their respective governments for fulfilling regulations on the treatment of employees, waste disposal and sanitation.

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey?

I moved to Dubai in 2010 and began working with multiple brands, starting off as a stylist and costume designer. In parallel, I completed my postgraduate degree in fashion focused on Japanese design, and lectured at various institutes in Dubai.

As a dancer and a designer, I felt the need to start a brand that was not focused on fashion trends but instead embraced Japanese philosophies to create a difference. By merging my passions of dance and design, I believe that I could serve a niche by creating a line of clothing for dancers based on sustainable and ethical clothing. This quickly transformed in a line that served people looking for athleisure wear to serve multiple purposes.

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I grew up in South Africa, watching my parents who were into show business and were constantly creating costumes and dance choreography. After finishing school, I studied fashion design at the University of Johannesburg and continued as a lecturer in fashion once I had graduated. After winning a young designer award, I started my first fashion brand in South Africa. The Idō Movement has been the culmination of merging my passions of dance and design.

What has been the response to the movement so far?

It's been truly overwhelming. As a young start-up in the industry, we have made great strides in partnering with various dance and active studios across Dubai. We are listed on various sustainable product market platforms that aim to provide ethical products options.

Aside from retail outlets, we have been listed as a sustainable brand for the UAE and carry a Tier 2 rating from Azraq – a UAE-based organisation accredited by the United National Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Programme to protect and conserve marine life.

Where do you see the brand five years from now?

I want to push The Idō Movement to help raise awareness within the industry by educating the consumer about fair trade and ethical fashion and focusing on purpose instead of trend. I want to design more collections inspired by dancers and give dancers a brand that showcases the true artists they are.

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