Q&A with "The Speedo Movement"
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about you, hobbies, kids, personal or professional milestones in your life etc..?
My name is Jake Smith, I’m 30-years old and I live in Bondi, Australia.
When I’m not buried away in Smithers, you’ll find me in the ocean, somewhere in transit as I'm always on the go, or playing rugby for the Sydney Convicts. Later this year (2020) I will be competing in the gay rugby world cup – the Bingham Cup - to be held in Ottawa, Canada this August.
I know sport is a big part of your life, how does it lend itself to Smithers??
Sport has had a major influence o my life. I’ve always played competitive sports whether it be rugby, tennis, cricket, triathlon, soccer, surf boat rowing you name it, I’ve done it! My sister represented Australia at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games as a swimmer and it was her success in the pool on the global stage that really spurred my love for sport and a high performance culture. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last 5 Olympics / Paralympics (Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio) as well as venturing to Russia for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. I've worked as a reporter/journalist at a number of major international sports events which included a stint in Brazil as part of the media team for the International Paralympic Committee - a hugely rewarding experience.
How long has Smithers been in business? How did it start?
Smithers went live in 2018 and we're about to celebrate a 2nd birthday this February. This labour of love has transformed into a journey that is blossoming into something pretty special.
Growing up, my family and I moved around regional parts of Australia where I eventually finished school in the tiny remote outback town of Cobar. After graduating, I found myself working in a copper mine and I quickly realised that although life in the outback was great, I wanted greener pastures. I had a yearning for a sea change, for the saltwater, the pristine beaches, the white sand, the sun-drenched pools, and endless summers in Bondi. I made my way to the 'big smoke' of Sydney in 2016 and we’ve been together ever since.
I was working in the white-collar world and I found it very mundane. I needed a creative outlet and I found that in Smithers. Working with colours, patterns, textures, fabrics are all activities that I whole-heartedly enjoy. The brand-building aspect of Smithers also provides a vehicle for me to tell my story along the way. My experiences and environment help shape my collections and the underpinning narrative that goes with each.
Put simply, Smithers is quality Australian-made swimwear designed for the modern-day gentleman. Smithers is for those who are cool, calm and collected but aren’t afraid to be bold and daring from time to time. Never the loudest in the room, but always noticed. Our garments instil confidence for the wearer and provide a chance to showcase one’s personality.
I’m very proud of the way Smithers has grown from humble beginnings to a flourishing success. I’ve always stayed true to my core values and this is demonstrated in our brand ethos, the quality of our garments and the distinct community we continue to build.
Tell us your philosophy on body positivity, and why it is important for everyone of all genders?
Body image is a huge concern for men and women all over the world. Negative body image is a precursor of serious social, medical and mental health issues including anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, stigmatisation, and eating disorders. I’ve witnessed the devastating impacts of negative body image firsthand with my sister, Jessica suffering from anorexia and bulimia for over a decade to the point of being hospitalised and forced to retire from international swimming.
The gay community can be a particularly difficult place with so much focus on appearance, abs and aesthetics. Social media can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to body positivity. You can either be motivated to make healthier choices or be completely discouraged because you don’t look the way society tells you to look. I think it’s important to be authentic and to be true to yourself and others. Be healthy, be happy and the rest will take care of itself.
The home of the speedo is Australia. Do you think your country embraces the swim brief more so than others?
Absolutely! Wearing a pair of speedos is the Australian way of life and this begins from an early age with many young Australians taking part in what’s known as “nippers” (surf lifesaving for youngsters). Of course, there’s always going to be a few men who opt for the dork shorts, but Australia is predominantly in favour of the swim briefs – even our Prime Ministers are fans.
Australia has a rich history of producing the world’s best swimwear and Smithers is proud to be part of this tradition.
What do you think will help the swim brief become more widely accepted for everyday swimwear?
I think the traditional swim brief is already widely accepted, however, the more men that join ‘The Speedo Movement’ and sport a pair of Smithers, the better.
Do you have a favorite suit you make? Why is it your favorite?
This is a little bit like asking a parent to choose their favourite child! I love them all, but I’m very fond of the Integrity classic briefs from the Foundations range. This was my first ever sketched design, so I have a soft spot for it. I also can’t go past the Diablo print in the Tulip Tang colour combo from the Rhythm range – I love the bold pops of green and purple which aren’t often seen together.
The designs and prints for Smithers evoke some very clean lines and patterns. Can you explain the design choice?
Clean lines and considered stripes feature in each and every one of our swimwear garments. I guess you could say lines are the signature theme for Smithers.
I like to keep things stylish, classic and timeless. A lot of our competitors are pushing out prints that are either too loud and gimmicky or extremely plain Jane.
Stripes never age and there are so many different variations that you can play with whether it’s direction, shape, thickness or colour etc.
The lines and stripes featured by Smithers are influenced by Australian surf lifesaving club colours, flags of the world, as well as football guernseys.
If someone feels like they aren’t in good enough shape to wear a swim brief what advice would you give them?
Swim briefs need to be worn from the inside out – it’s all about how you feel. Channel that body positivity and wear your Smithers with confidence. It’s a liberating feeling that will build your self-esteem.
What got you involved with the swimsuit business?
Finance has been my game for a very long time which has really restricted my capacity to get creative. My creativity has always been there I just needed an outlet and the freedom to hatch my ideas and I found that in fashion.
My mum used to be both a fashion designer and interior designer so I lean on her quite a bit for inspiration and technical advice. Given my sister's experience as a professional swimmer, her knowledge of quality materials has also been an added bonus.
Where is your favorite place to wear a Smithers suit?
We’re spoilt for choice in Sydney with a vast coastline and countless beaches to take a dip. We also have some of the best pools in the world, check out Bondi Icebergs or North Sydney Pool!
If I had to choose one particular watering hole it would be Red Leaf Pool in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The harbour-side pool has sweeping views of Sydney and a beautiful boardwalk around the perimeter with pontoons in the middle. The water is calm and the waves are minimal making it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Does Smithers have any fun future things in the works that you can tell us about?
We’re busy planning the next range that draws inspiration from some of my favourite things;
- the Olympics / Paralympics; and
- flags of the world
I’ve just returned from Japan who will play host to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games set to take place in Tokyo at the end of the year, so you can expect something sporty and athletic with some international flavour.
Do you offer your suits in any retail settings or is on your website the exclusive way to order?
Right now we are exclusively online only through our website and social media channels.