Lets start at the top
How did it all begin?
It literally started as a joke amongst mates with someone writing ‘budgy smuggler’ on the back of a pair. A few people found it funny so we got a little website set up to sell online. At some point, we are hoping it catches on.
Where do you make Budgy Smugglers?
Our Australian office is based in Manly, Sydney and we have our factory just up the road - from printing to cutting to sewing, all in Sydney.
Why do you make in Australia when you could make overseas for cheaper?
At Budgy Smuggler we are focused on how well we can make a garment, not how cheap we can do it.
Australia has a long and proud tradition of swimwear design and production. It is the birthplace of the speedo (now Budgy Smuggler :)) style swimwear. We are proud to continue this tradition.
We have invested heavily in our manufacturing so we’re a world leader.
Plus when you put on a pair of smugglers / smugglettes, we want you to feel that you’re putting on a genuine garment crafted with love. We love the craftsmanship and when you put on a pair, we want you to feel like you're wrapping the best bits of Australia around your butt.
Where do the ideas for your designs come from?
Normally people at the pub. We haven’t had a good idea in a long time. There are lots of pubs in Australia, and even more in the UK, so we feel this is a good place to be based from.
A lot of professional athletes wear smugglers when they’re playing sports. How come?
We thought rather than answer this ourselves we’ll ask a couple of sportsmen and sportswomen about how they think Budgy Smuggler has helped...
"Budgy Smuggler has given me the security downstairs to make my career upstairs" - England Rugby's Jack Nowell
"It is just a new level of support while I’m scrummaging" - Wallaby Tatafu Polata-Nau
"Since wearing them I’ve been hitting the ball a lot cleaner and I haven’t been called ‘champ’ at training once" - Faf du Plessis
"Smugglettes really help you turn defence into attack" - Ellia Green, Olympic Gold Medalist Rugby 7s.
"I would never have kicked the winning goal for the Orange Emus if it wasn’t for Budgy Smuggler" - Findlay Mingon, Country Park Football Superstar
Is it fair for you to take credit?
While we think it is unfair to take all of the credit for the accumulation of World Titles, Rugby Premierships, and Olympic Gold Medals, we are happy to do so.
Smugglers are also handy for being comfortable, keeping everything in place, and being less likely to fall down in a tackle. Professional athletes and particularly footy players were early on the uptake as they typically move between showers and ice baths at the end of the game… and no one likes getting in an ice bath nude.
Sincerely though, it is a real honour to be a part of dressing rooms of every level from park and country footy / cricket to World Champions, Olympic Champions and National Premierships/Flags. Part of smuggling is the camaraderie that builds in these team both on and off the paddock. We love to be a small part of this.
You seem to be involved in quite a few community events and organisations, is this something that’s important to you?
We started out just with a few mates smuggling for a laugh… I guess it was our own little community. There was never an intention to become a ‘business’ or a brand so we’ve always followed things that interest us and that involves community initiatives.
At Budgy Smuggler we want a reputation for quality. When we think of this we think not just of making quality products that put a smile on people's’ faces, it is also about being a quality brand in terms of looking after people - our team, our fellow smuggler and the broader community.
We have never worried too much about making money. For the first decade in Budgy Smuggler’s history, we lost money (It was one of the great expensive hobbies of all time) and had other jobs/loans to keep the business afloat and growing… but we were also able to get involved with community initiatives and do things like co-host Strut the Streets which raised a quarter-million dollars over this period for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). While from a profit and loss perspective this didn’t make sense in the short term, in the long run we believe in a ‘swings and roundabouts’ approach and we’ve been fortunate that events like Strut the Streets have helped to build a loyal following.
Specifically in both Australia and the UK we’ve supported projects like Movember where anyone pictured in a pair of Smugglers with their Mo gets $50 AUD (or £30) donated to their fundraising page. In 2017 we donated $20,000 AUD (£11,000) to Movember and in 2018 we have already contributed a similar figure towards mental wellbeing causes.
How did the Smugglettes (female) range come about?
Why should guys have all the fun?! It was a no-brainer to start making Smugglettes. We started simple with a basic bikini and racing one piece, and since 2009 we have slowly begun growing and perfecting the range! We are still developing, growing, changing and learning. It's a whole lot of fun to keep making new cuts and designs for women of all shapes and sizes, activities and ages!
Budgy Smuggler has a number of designs made by emerging Aboriginal Australian artists, how did this come about?
Budgy Smuggler has a long and strong connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who were some of the early adopters with Budgy Smuggler, particularly professional athletes/footballers. It’s a community we love and are fiercely loyal too. A general shout out to all the mob out there.First Australians also make some of the most incredible art in the World. We are honoured to be able to share some of these designs through our swimwear. Importantly, artists retain ownership of the work and a royalty is paid on each sale to the artists and/or to a nominated charity partner.We note that Budgy Smuggler is on the land of the Guringai people and we pay full respects to Elders past, present and future.
What’s next for Budgy Smuggler?
Great Question. Mainly just making it up as go. A few thoughts have cross our mind such as continuing to grow our product line to have heaps more Australian made products. We are starting our Australian made Party Shirts and Bucket Hats. Anything else you think we should make? Hit us up and we'll give it a crack.