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 love to travel, or playing rugby for the Sydney Convicts. Later this year I will be competing in the gay rugby world cup – the Bingham Cup - to be held in Ottawa, Canada this August.
Sport has had a major influence in my life. I’ve always played competitive sport whether it be rugby, tennis, cricket, triathlon, soccer, surf boat rowing you name it, I’ve played 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 spurred my love for sport. 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. Safe to say I’m definitely a summer sport kind of guy, although I did just return from a skiing trip in Japan which was absolutely fantastic.
How long has Smithers been in business? How did it start?
Smithers is about to celebrate a 2nd birthday on Valentines Day (February 14). It has truly been a labour of love and a journey that is blossoming into something 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 life in the outback wasn’t for me. 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.
Smithers was born from my connection to the water – it’s my happy place and it keeps me grounded. I wanted to solidify my relationship with the ocean, and what better way to do that then by creating my very own swimwear label.
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. 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. We’ve always stayed true to our core values and this is demonstrated in our brand ethos and 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?
I could talk about this topic for hours on end. 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 aesthetic. 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 like the way the 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 all part of the Australian way of life which begins from an early age where many young Australians take part in what’s known as “nippers” (surf life saving 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 for producing the world’s best swimwear and Smithers is proud to be part of this tradition.
What sort of things can a customer customize with a custom pair of swim briefs or underwear?
Colours, draw cords, prints, patterns, lining etc.
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 don 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. 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?
Well done for picking up on the signature Smithers theme – clean lines and considered stripes feature in each and every one of our swimwear garments.
I like to keep things stylish, classic and timeless. A lot of our competitors are pushing out prints which 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 as well as football guernseys from teams I’ve worshipped as a young football player myself.
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 on 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 in. 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 of the pool. 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 hosts of the 2020 Olympic 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.