Mauda: The Disability-Friendly Fashion Brand, – With A Focus Towards Stylish, Adaptive Clothing

Mauda is a women’s fashion brand that is primarily focused towards stylish, adaptive (disability-friendly) clothing. The brand launched during lock-down in January 2021.

Mauda’s garments are made in Scotland from natural, breathable fibres (their current spring/summer collection is made from linen and cotton). Their garments come in different sizes, with a choice between adaptive, and non-adaptive versions.

As a brand, Mauda is on a mission to make designs as universal as possible: for instance, their dresses can be finished with standard buttons, magnetic buttons, snaps fasteners or Velcro, at the check-out stage. Each item comes with concealed labels within small pockets (for sensory comfort), and where possible, Mauda will always try to sew their pieces with flat-felled seams (for the same reason).

Because adaptive clothing is still broadly linked to function rather than style, Mauda aspires to create stylish garments that are also functional and comfortable. 

Mauda’s Founder, Carla Costa Darling had always dreamt of running her own fashion-for-purpose brand, that was educational and/or purposeful: ‘Obviously, all fashion is meaningful to someone,’ explained Carla: ‘It’s the way we express our individuality. But seeing as I had a previous career in an unrelated area, I wanted to combine my academic and professional knowledge into the brand.’

Carla’s inspiration to specialise in adaptive clothing came from Sinead Burke – an Irish writer and disability advocate: ‘My husband mentioned a BBC interview with her, and from there, I ended up watching her TED talks and listening to her podcasts, and then eventually, – other material by other disability advocates,’ recalled Carla.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 15.6% of the global population has a disability that could be addressed by adaptive apparel. UK statistics show that there are approximately 14 million disabled people in the UK. However, the adaptive apparel market is still under-served, still under-represented, and it tends to be targeted towards an older age group. 

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‘The more I watched and listened, the more I thought: ‘I can pull this off!’ More than making stylish adaptive fashion, Mauda’s aim is to help bring adaptive fashion into the mainstream. Just like we can go into a shop and find multiple colours of the same t-shirt, we should also have the ability to buy adaptive and non-adaptive garment options,’ added Carla.

Back in Portugal (where Carla originally comes from), fashion didn’t seem like a ‘promising’ career option, so Carla studied European Studies at University, before landing a job in IT/Financial Services. It was only when she moved to the UK in 2012, that a fashion career seemed more achievable, so she enrolled on a fashion design course in 2017 whilst still in full-time employment, and she started to plan her career change. 

After years of working in large organisations, Carla wanted to create a brand that conveyed her values. And as she was made redundant from her previous role, it marked the perfect, symbolic moment to put her plans in action: Mauda’s virtual doors opened in January 2021.

‘Launching during lock-down was tough. All of our product photography was taken at home, and between my husband and I, – we did pretty much every role in the business: from fashion design, to photography, to modelling, to sales, and marketing, etc. But as restrictions eased, we were finally able to first book a professional photo shoot with an agency working with disabled models,’ explained Carla. 

Mauda has since proudly extended their presence to a physical space in the centre of Edinburgh at the Scottish Design Exchange (51 George Street). And their spring/summer collection is currently available to purchase on their website, whilst they continue to work on, and develop their upcoming autumn/winter collection.

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