Manasi Kabadi & Indi Moda: Clothing with a Conscience

indi moda

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring – Marilyn Monroe

These words portrayed my exact sentiments at 20 when I – a bohemian then, thanks to my Goan roots – was compelled to dress up in ordinary black work pants and ill-fitting polyester blouses for my internship. I longed for something fun, comfortable and meaningful, instead. That laid the foundation for Indi Moda, a registered brand featuring women’s apparel and upcycled accessories. It caters to a global audience through a website, and women distributors in various countries.

The Start

It was quite the Bollywood movie plot. At the age of 26, after qualifying as a chartered accountant, I quit a high-paying but humdrum 9-5 job at a pharma company to take the uncertain path of entrepreneurship. Being a first-generation entrepreneur, I had a tough time addressing the concerns of friends and family, who had always been of supportive of my dreams.

The global exposure and skill set I got at my one-year MBA at IE Business School, Madrid, in 2017 gave me the wings to launch my startup. Through Indi Moda I wanted to offer women an opportunity to look classy, stay comfortable and shop mindfully. The idea was to have all women become an Indi Lady – cheerful, sweet and full of life.

Sustainability at the Core

Right from my birth to my teens, I spent most of my time with my loving grandparents. Their influence has shaped my core values. Hence, through the brand I offered more than garments; I offered care – care to customers, artisans and, ultimately, the environment. Sustainability was at the heart of Indi Moda.

As an alpha woman, I believed that every woman could stand out without spending millions on outfits. All a woman needs is a few smart outfits that highlighted her unique self. Hence, Indi Moda’s clothing enables women to dress smartly with multifunctional, multipurpose and all-season garments that can be styled to suit every occasion.

As the creative head, I built on the idea of caring for the environment, I, putting together innovative processes to overcome polluting design flaws. We design and redesign every silhouette to ensure minimal fabric wastage during production. Each Indi Moda garment is handmade, produced in small quantities that are rarely restocked.

Also, every remaining scrap of fabric is converted into accessories to ensure a zero waste policy. Playing with fabric waste is the fun part of my job. The scraps give me an opportunity to create something exclusive that looks nothing like waste.

Manasi Kabadi at the FashionStartup Awards 2019
Manasi Kabadi at the Fashion Startup Awards 2019, during the Mercedes Benz Madrid Fashion Week

Strict adherence to a zero-waste policy is difficult. My plan to reduce and reuse fabric waste was laughed at by people at many fashion manufacturing houses. Since age and experience were not on my side, I had to endure a lot of rejection before I found the people who were willing to give my ideas a chance.

Sourcing the right fabric from the right sources also was vital. I personally visit remote areas and shady streets in towns across India to source fabrics. This is a tough ask for a single young woman.

I have had to deal with conservative fabric suppliers who still try to fool me with high prices or blended fabric, thinking my age and/or gender make me an easy mark.

Over the years, we at Indi Moda have been working to build a team of strong women. From karigars (tailors) to store managers, Indi Moda hires women and trains women. It is a brand led by a woman, and where 90% of the staff are women.

The Future of Sustainable Choices

I believe that every change starts within us. It could be the food you eat, the car you drive, or the garment you wear. With my brand and the lifestyle I lead, I wish to make a change in the mindset of customers, making them mindful of their every choice. I aim to dress everyone women smartly while doing minimal damage to the environment.

Bringing that change in the customer’s mindset is what gets me out of bed every day. I believe that my innovative ways of designing and dressing up will inspire people to make better choices, one that will shape a better future for future generations.

Be sure to check out Sabrina Suhail is Doing it Right — Stylishly and much more on SEEMA!