Return of the budgie smuggler

It's official - the humble budgie smuggler is back.

Speedo, makers of the original briefs, have said Australian sales for its skimpiest design have swollen by 17 per cent compared to last year.

We expect girls not to be self-conscious in bikinis so dudes, too, should show off a bit of skin.

The spike is part of a global rise of 44 per cent, and other retailers and local manufacturers also say business is booming.

Marika Pothitos, swimwear category buyer for Myer menswear, said the department store had increased its stocks of “racer” swimsuits - the industry term for what's become known, seemingly universally in Australia, as the budgie smuggler.

The increase has been necessary to keep pace with a growing demand for the “skin-tight” trunks that is showing signs of outpacing boardshort sales.

Niche brands aussieBum and Budgy Smuggler also reported domestic and international sales had risen steadily since their respective launches in 2001 and 2004.

Spokesmen for the two companies put the growing popularity of a design, once synonymous with "swim-club kids and pot-bellied old men”, down to a growing “middle market” among male 20- and 30-somethings.

aussieBum director Sean Ashby said he noticed a spike in the sales of his brand's smaller designs after Daniel Craig wandered from the surf clad in skin-tight trunks as James Bond in Casino Royale.

But he said the popularity of the racier 'smuggler' style brief was fuelled by a scene in Sex and the City Two that featured a group of Australian water-polo players frolicking in front of a highly appreciative female audience.


“That made them attractive to men who, let's face it, want to impress women at the beach as much as girls do (men),” Mr Ashby said.

“Also, close to 40 per cent of our customers are women who are buying for the significant men in their lives and wouldn't mind seeing them in something a little more revealing.”

Adam Linforth, "chief smuggler" of Budgy Smuggler, agreed female shoppers had helped boost sales but argued that it was a sartorially bolder, more body-confident group of men who were at the heart of the racer revival.

He said younger consumers were more fashion-savvy than their boardshort-favouring forebears and likely to follow continental trends favouring a briefer breed of swimmers.

A shift away from American surf culture in favour of the Australian life-saving “look” had also played a part, Mr Linforth said.

“Basically I reckon blokes have got to get over themselves,” he said.

“No-one really cares that you're showing off skin at the beach and we expect girls not to be self-conscious in bikinis so dudes, too, should show off a bit of skin.”

Ashby agreed, saying women “led the parade” in terms of exposing skin at the beach and that men shouldn't fear what he described as Australian “conservatism” when choosing their summer kit.

He added that “budgie smugglers” had also improved design-wise over the years and new technologies and fabrics allowed them to “cling in all the right places”.