It stands to reason that Chris Judd is a prodigious multi-tasker. He’s an AFL Legend, father of two, husband, media personality and businessman. Judd is also putting his years of experience as a professional athlete to good use, with his investment in sportswear label Jaggad last year. Judd would not be short of an offer to be a part of a business, so what appealed to him about Jaggad? “My original motivation behind getting involved was that there wasn’t a lot of gear myself and Steve [Greene, former Hawthorn AFL player] as professional athletes used that we really liked. Also the over-Americanised branding that a lot of labels use didn’t appeal to us. We wanted the brand to be an Australian company with a heavy design focus. A brand that could speak to the every day athlete that was busy, who had challenges but who wanted to get up and live a life athletic. By making gear that was elegantly designed, we could help in that process.”

So what is the “life athletic” mantra that sits behind the Jaggad label? “The concept of the life athletic is really important to our brand,” explains Judd. “To live a life athletic is to lead a healthy life. You don’t have to be number 1 in the world at what you are doing, but if you are out there having a go, we want to support you. We don’t want to be a brand that intimidates people. We want to feel connected with our community.”

chris judd couturingJudd, as a shareholder, director and ambassador of Jaggad, is heavily involved with the company. “I make sure the brand is seen in the light it should be,” he explains. ” I’m involved in wear testing and I give feedback on design as does my wife [Rebecca]. I have a feeling my wife’s feedback gets treated with a lot more importance than mine though! Being involved with the company has been a really enjoyable process for me. Working with good people and friends, and seeing them grow into their role is really rewarding. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons about running a start up apparel company and also it’s been nice personally, seeing lessons I’ve learnt in a football environment be affirmed in other group situations. It gives you confidence that the lessons you’ve learnt in one field are going to be largely transferrable in group dynamics in other fields as well.”

So what lessons has Judd taken from his illustrious football career that he can apply to his work with Jaggad? “Once people’s interests are aligned improvement can be really rapid,” said Judd. “Steve our CEO has done a wonderful job in getting people really excited about the brand and we’ve got some really talented people working here. To see the improvement in the business from a holistic sense, once all those different parties interest have invested in the Jaggad brand, reminds me of what I saw playing for a premiership team. Once everyone really bought into the interest of the overall group, it was great to see how quickly improvement could come. We still have a lot of things to learn as a business but we are clear on the type of business we want to be and hope it’s a really exciting company for people to work for.”

As well as Greene, Judd is in good business company at Jaggad, working alongside fellow investors, Just Jeans founder Craig Kimberly,  Ryan Trainor (former Carlton Director and founder of Republica Education) and Suzanne O’Connell (Greene’s Corporate Cycling Challenge business partner). What are some of the key learnings Judd has picked up from them? “You’re picking up lessons all the time,” acknowledges Judd. “One of the main lessons I’ve learnt from Ryan is a basic leadership lesson. No matter what you are doing, he taught me that it’s important to start with why you are doing it, then work down to what it is you do, and how to do it, in that order. If you get bogged down in what you are going to do and how you do it, it’s much less inspiring for employees. It’s important to communicate to employees the overall vision of the group. If you don’t talk with that sort of language, day to day work can eventually become mundane.”

chris judd couturing 1With so many dynamic business people involved with the company, how do Jaggad ensure that they are all on the same page and have the same vision for the company? “The work we did early on in the piece was really important,” said Judd. We got a really clear brand book done, spoke a lot about brands we admired and what we wanted our brand to look like. When I look back now, getting that signed off properly saves a lot of time down the track. When decisions need to be made we can go back to the principal of how we want the brand to look. We need to be conscious to remind ourselves of that everyday because it’s easy to get distracted by the next opportunity. Particularly if you are a company of our size, we need to make sure we stick to our vision and make sure we execute everything we do really well. There is no use us trying to compete with Nike or Adidas or companies of that size. So far I think we are carving out a niche for ourselves really well.”

Jaggad are truly staking their claim in what is quite a busy market. They offer a brand that not only pushes fashion boundaries with understated but effective designs, but also places a real importance on connecting with the community through their converted milk bar bricks and mortar shop front and its social media presence. So what are Judd’s thoughts on social media, particularly given his wife’s sometimes negative experience on the platform? “It can be a really powerful positive tool and can be a destructive tool as well,” acknowledges Judd. “It depends on the user’s state of mind. Social media is all about branding. From a business sense it’s a fantastic tool. To have that platform that you own that you can clearly articulate what your brand stands for is very powerful. Our experience has been really positive. My wife is a lot more active on it than I am and she loves it but she also understand that if people are saying nasty things to her on it, it’s different to having someone in the real world saying something.”

So is Judd looking forward to life after football? “Yes, although I thought I would be in it by now,” he says. “The plan was to retire at the end of this year but I’ve had a rethink and I’ve been back at training and I’m really excited about where the club is going. We have a few new faces already. There’s a really good energy down there. People have come back hungry and keen to improve. It’s important not to wish away the last year of footy as who knows if there will be another year after that. I’m going to be consciously trying to enjoy the last phase then move onto the next phase when it comes.”

So what’s coming up for Jaggad? “We are working on a short film with Woolmark in the new year,” indicates Judd. Jaggad have already been utilising merino wool in their designs which Judd believes is really important. “Merino wool really breathes. It’s very different to traditional lycra but it wears really well. We are also moving away from releasing new pieces twice a year. We have decided to release new designs more regularly so people have a reason to come in a check out the shop and website and stay connected with the brand.”

And finally what advice does Judd have for someone looking to get into the sporting apparel world? “Don’t compete with bike, tri or run because we’ve got it covered,” Judd jokes. “On a serious note, be clear about your motivations for starting. Why you want to start it and what you hope to achieve is the key.”

Images by Sabine Legrand

About The Author

Lisa Teh

Lisa Teh is the Editor-in-chief of, one of Australia's top fashion, beauty and lifestyle resources. She has worked on campaigns with brands including David Jones, Myer, Mecca Cosmetica, Simone Perele, Lenovo and L'Oreal. She recently appeared in Couturing's exclusive Australian Fashion Week reality web series, The Frow, alongside top industry names including Toni Maticevski and Maybelline Creative Director Nigel Stanislaus.