‘Tradie’ brand proves to be more than just undies

There is no doubt the well renowned ‘Tradie’ brand continues to grow as it expands its offer throughout the underwear, workwear and work boots segments, particularly within the independent hardware market. 

Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins has worked with the ‘Tradie’ brand for over eight years.
Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins has worked with the ‘Tradie’ brand for over eight years.

Makers of the iconic ‘Tradie’ brand, SOJO is a family business that has steadily progressed for around 20 years now in the outer-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Ironically, founder Ben Goodfellow made his mark in the business when he was just 26 years old, when he came up with the well-known ‘Tradie’ brand name. 

Today, Ben says it is exciting to be working within the workwear/outerwear space, particularly as it gains momentum amongst both male and female Aussie tradies. Ben believes it only makes sense to expand the brand into this space as tradies continue to opt for fashionable work gear under a much-loved Aussie brand.

“The idea around this brand has always been to just have fun. We understand that Australians are very proud of our tradies who are also known to be quite humorous and love the outdoors, so it seemed like an obvious brand name to build.”

“I started the ‘Tradie’ brand name in underwear, which then quickly moved into socks, workwear and work boots. More recently we have moved into the beauty category and launched body sprays and body wash. Ideally, we have achieved a nice balance with the brand now well known in multiple categories,” he said.

When looking at future opportunities for workwear brands such as ‘Tradie’, Ben said it is so good to see so many up-and-coming brands, considering just 10 years ago only a couple of brands dominated this area. In the past, a lot of the brands tradesmen famously wore have now become outdated and daggy, but more recently Ben is seeing more youthful brands come through and “would like to think we are one of them”.

“Companies are doing some fantastic stuff in workwear and the new designs are really blurring the lines between streetwear and workwear. That is what is so exciting about this space at the moment. The local hardware store can now sell some really on-trend workwear as opposed to the brands a 50- or 60-year-old tradesman wants to wear.” 

“The younger tradies seem to be the ones that are really driving this space now because they come into your home, or they work on big corporate sites and they know they need to present well, look trendy as well as professional. There really is no reason why they can only wear stylish clothes on the weekend and then during work time they have to wear things that are not well fitted. They should dress on trend every day of the week,” he said.

Although ‘Tradie’ predominantly stocks workwear and boots within the hardware independent space, the brand does have some underwear in hardware stores during gifting times, such as Father’s Day. Ben said hardware stores act as a bit of a general store in the smaller communities and range a lot of underwear as well, but the core products in this space is workwear.

“In saying this we are certainly most famous for our undies at this stage because we have had so fun advertising with Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins. Nick has worked with the ‘Tradie’ brand for eight years now so we have been on this journey together and will keep doing things with him across workwear, underwear etc.”

“Thirteen-to-eighteen-year-olds really relate to him, and he is an incredible guy – one of eight kids, always helping out his family. When we filmed our baby ad a few years ago you have never seen someone so good with babies because he helped out so much with his younger siblings,” Ben said.

Despite the big push in ‘Tradie’ underwear, Ben said there is still a lot to be achieved within both of the prominent workwear and work boots space, with work boots growing extremely well at the moment.

“The footwear space is interesting in that we are launching some light weight boots. Although they have been around for some time, we are just trying to put our spin on it for both men and women. We are also developing some new footwear for women. We know that women in trades is just exploding at the moment so we are certainly developing some new styles for them,” he said.

Female tradies

It seems that female tradies are becoming more prominent  nationally, which is also great for the ‘Tradie’ brand. Ben says this is particularly evident when women’s underwear outsells men’s underwear in retail outlets.

“This is an indication that there are more females coming through trades. It is so great that people connect with a trades related brand. Ten years ago, I think women may have felt uncomfortable going to trade school or taking on an apprenticeship, but now there absolutely is a pathway and for brands like us that are selling a lot of women’s stuff, this will see our products in a really good place in the next few years,” Ben said.

The success of the ‘Tradie” brand amongst female customers is also boosted with several successful marketing campaigns via some great female ambassadors who are dual Olympians and incredible role models, according to Ben, including world number two freestyle skier, Danielle Scott, and Charlotte Caslick, widely regarded as the best female Rugby Sevens player globally.

“Charlotte is so well loved because she has got such an amazing attitude, she is an incredible athlete and encourages such a positive body image to younger girls. She is super athletic and I think people can really relate to her, particularly our customers in the northern states. Given it is an Olympic year, she has just been to Tokyo so the campaigns with her work incredibly well with our target market,” he said.

“Danielle is also heading off to the Olympics in six months because the winter Olympics is close to the summer Olympics this year. We are so lucky that our two female ambassadors are going to be on screens all over Australia in pretty much the same time frame.”

For now, Ben says the ‘Tradie’ brand will continue to create workwear that is really dedicated to the independent space. 

“We love our independent retailers and all of the mum and dad stores out there. While we have done a lot of advertising around our body spray and body wash recently to become well known in the beauty category, we have also created some great ads for our workwear with the ‘Honey Badger’ so I think there is a bit of a great a mix and people know that ‘Tradie’ plays in a lot of different spaces,” he said.

Looking into the new year there is plenty to look out for from the ‘Tradie’ brand with a new Black Label collection to be launched early next year, set to draw a lot of interest from those customers looking for quality workwear that is on-trend. 

“The Black Label range is more streetwear influenced and premium than what we currently offer and this will be exclusive through the independent space. This will be out in time for the back to work period in late January,” Ben said.