Tradies Don Wild Work Wear To Get Blokes Talking About Mental Health

By: Hailey Renault

ABC Radio Brisbane

Two young tradesmen turned fashion designers say their wild work shirts are already getting "ocker Aussie blokes" to open up about their mental health.

Brisbane carpenters Ed Ross and Dan Allen downed their tools to create a line of work shirts capable of standing out even in a sea of high-vis.

Splashes of vibrant yellow, green, pink and blue mingle together on the Mr Feel Good, Coight and FAF designs. Their range has since expanded. Four years in to their venture, in 2022, their range features 3 core prints, funky workwear collection drops four times a year and a "traditional" range.

Mr Allen said the shirts, and the overarching social enterprise project Trademutt, were his way of responding to the loss of a close mate to suicide a few years earlier.

"It opened up my eyes to just how bad it is in Australia," he said.

"When you're wearing the shirts you take on a responsibility to both talk and listen, so you're quite approachable."

"I think the response we've had just over the past few days alone is proving we're onto a good thing here and it's a necessary change that needs to happen."

Mr Ross, who trained Mr Allen in his trade, said he and his "protege" were determined to do more than donate money to a charity to address the shocking rate of suicide in Australia.

The pair have covered their work wear in a camouflage pattern but said nothing about the loud design would keep its wearer hidden.

"You are the base of every conversation and people can come up to you," Mr Ross said.

"You've got to wear it with pride."

In 2018 when this article was originally written a percentage of the money raised through the sale of the shirts would go towards men's mental health campaign This Is A Conversation Starter, run by not-for-profit organisation Spur. This Is A Conversation Starter (TIACS) is now the name of the charity that Mr Allen and Mr Ross co-founded. TIACS provides a free mental health support service for those doing it tough, direct to counsellors. TradeMutt is an accredited social trader, with 50% of their profits being donated to TIACS.

"Worksites are definitely an eye opener, we've started conversations like you wouldn't believe," Mr Allen said.

"We think this approach might really break the ice."

If you or anyone close to you needs support contact TIACS on 0488 846 988

Mon-Fri 8am - 10pm AEST

FREE text or call mental health support service direct to counsellors