Tadáias is a premium cycling apparel brand inspired by the sportswear of an era gone by with a contemporary approach. Creator of Tadáias, Thomas McLaughlin has a wealth of experience as a high-end fashion designer. The combination of his deep passion for cycling and his extensive experience of tailoring, fabrics and design is displayed in every garment.

While people often think of creativity in certain guises, it was the mathematical and technical side of fashion that caught Thomas’s imagination. He didn’t exactly freewheel into fashion, even if he did feel he was destined for some form of creative career: “I always knew I wanted to study art, but I had no interest in fashion as such. I applied to art college and began a foundation course where I got to try a little bit of everything. One of the projects I was assigned was in fashion and I really liked it; I thought I was good at it and went from there. That’s how I got into the fashion course in the college, it wasn’t any long-term plan, it just kind of happened.”

Local Enterprise Office Donegal Stories
Thomas admits he had a lucky break along the way; at college he was in the same class as Simone Rocha, daughter of renowned Irish designer John Rocha, who came to see his daughter’s collection at the end of the year; when he saw Thomas’ show, he offered him a job. Thomas says the experience it gave him was priceless: “The amount I learned from John was my degree ten times over. The industry experience you learn – making a collection for London Fashion Week – the pressure, the fabrics involved, dealing with factories and buyers – I don’t think any course could teach you those things. That was experience I will have for the rest of my life and it was incredible.”

While Thomas was getting amazing experience working for John Rocha, the desire to do something on his own was starting to gather momentum; he eventually got to the stage where he realised that if he didn’t make a move, he would regret it. It was one thing deciding to go out on his own but an altogether different prospect to actually start on that journey. From buying, to accounts, drafting business proposals and writing a business plan, there was a steep learning curve, but programmes like Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur from Donegal Local Enterprise Office were extremely helpful:

I think I would have been at least a year, if not two years behind, if I hadn’t done those programmes – those intense programmes really helped.

Thomas McGlaughlin

Founder, Tadáias

Local Enterprise Office Donegal Stories

His business had been growing steadily but Thomas admits that it wasn’t until he started cycling seriously in 2012 that he realised that there was a market for cycling apparel: “It was only after being on the bike and cycling properly, seeing the kit and the wearable technologies that are involved, that I thought I’d really like to do this myself.” Through Local Enterprise Office Donegal, Thomas secured a Trading Online Voucher for his website and grew the business with the support of a Priming Grant and mentoring.

Thomas now sells all over the world and has happy customers in places like Japan, Australia and South Africa: “You need to have a hands-on approach, you always want to be sure that your product is the very best it can be, and the only way to do that is to keep a constant check on quality. Before this pandemic stopped me in my tracks, I made regular trips to the factory to ensure quality control and I source the fabrics delivered to the factory. With new ideas for collections coming all the time, Thomas believes he has yet to hit top gear, but is determined to ensure he does.


Local Enterprise Office Donegal Stories

Local Enterprise Office Donegal Stories

Priming Grant

Assists micro-enterprises in the first 18 months of start-up. It covers 50% of eligible costs, subject to an €80K LEO contribution.

Trading Online Voucher

Supports small businesses to enhance their online trading presence to the value of €2,500. Available now to Donegal businesses.