Sep 2023

BOYS ON FILM

They’re the South Coast tradies turned ACCIDENTAL influencers, entrepreneurs and TV stars. With their own show streaming now, we dared THE INSPIRED UNEMPLOYED to channel some iconic small-screen characters. By Courtney Thompson

PHOTOGRAPHY by GEORGES ANTONI
STYLING by RACHEL WAYMAN & ANNALIESE DOIG
TOP: CALVIN KLEIN board shorts, $99.95 each
BOTTOM: UNIQLO puffer jackets, $129.90 each

Halfway through InStyle’s shoot with The Inspired Unemployed, there’s a nervous energy on set. To mark the group’s move from our phone screens to TV screens, they’re embodying famous television characters, and for the next shot they’ll channel bronzed Baywatch hunks. But it’s the middle of winter and they’re lacking fluorescent Californian tans, so our stylists and creative director are tasked with slathering bronzer on their bare torsos. Giggling and side eyes ensue. We could be back at high school for how flustered a group of grown women have become in the presence of these boys.

TOP LEFT: (Dom) JORDAN GOGOS jacket, POA; (Matt) BOTTEGA VENETA pants, $15,560; (Jack) JORDAN GOGOS pants, POA; TOP RIGHT: (Matt) BOTTEGA VENETA jacket, $4400, shirt, $1380, tie, $280, pants, $1670, and shoes, $3010; (Dom) M.J. BALE jacket, $449, waistcoat, $249, shirt, $149.95, tie, $129.95, pocket square, $29.95, and pants, $249, ZENITH watch, $25,700, JULIUS MARLOW shoes, $220; (Jack) M.J. BALE coat, $799, jacket, $899, shirt, $119.95, tie, $129.95, and pants, $249, JULIUS MARLOW shoes, $150; (Liam) M.J. BALE jacket, $499, waistcoat, $249, shirt, $119.95, tie, $149.95, pocket square, $29.95, and pants, $249, JULIUS MARLOW shoes, $150; BOTTOM: (Dom) AKUBRA VIA STRAND HATTERS hat, $300, QUAY sunglasses, $95, R.M. WILLIAMS jacket, $349, pants, $139, and shoes, $649; (Jack) AKUBRA VIA STRAND HATTERS hat, $300, HUGO BOSS blazer, $979, and shirt, $199, M.J. BALE, tie, $89.95, R.M. WILLIAMS pants, $159, and shoes, $649 HAIR: Michael Brennan

But such is the effect that Jack Steele, Matt Ford and their friends have on people, and it speaks, in part, to why a ragtag bunch of boys from the South Coast have captured the hearts of Australia. Launched as a hobby back in 2019 by Steele and Ford while they were travelling in Europe, The Inspired Unemployed started as an Instagram account of comedy skits that had a modest following until one lit the match. In the video, the duo – along with three of their friends, Bill, Dom and Grant – are dressed in what can only be described as half-assed Burning Man outfits. Ford has ski goggles on with a fur- trimmed tie-up shirt and Adidas shorts; Dom is wearing a tight crop top with skinny jeans and a military cap; Steele is in a leather biker jacket and jeans. They’re on a strip of coastline and over the course of the minute-long clip, the five boys lip-sync and dance with almost unbridled enthusiasm to La Bouche’s Eurodance classic, “Be My Lover”. Completely earnest and totally choreographed, when they pressed post on that video, it was akin to Alice stepping through the looking glass. “Our following jumped from 9000 to 30,000, and we got managers within three days,” Steele recalls. “Everything changed in a weekend.”

Within a few months, the boys were starring in a Fendi campaign, being snapped for fashion magazines and, almost a year to the day since “Be My Lover”, they posted a video to Instagram that was shot for Louis Vuitton (safe to say the fits were a vast improvement). From the outside, you could say they’re just a bunch of attractive white guys doing silly dances, and there’s something endearing about that to most people. But if you ask them, the reason it worked was the juxtaposition between the perception of a tradie and the videos they make. “People were like, these are tradie surf guys dressed up in these outfits doing this dance, which shouldn’t be happening; I guess it was just weird,” Ford says. “We’re not chiselled models with six packs,” Steele adds, “so the contrast [of us being regular guys in these cool fashion scenarios] is interesting.”

TOP: (Jack) TOMMY HILFIGER jacket, $399, GUCCI shirt, $1850, BROOKS BROTHERS pants, $150, GUCCI shoes, $1705; (Matt) BROOKS BROTHERS shirt, $150, UNIQLO T-shirt, $19.90, LEVI’S jeans, $159.95, NEW BALANCE shoes, $179.99; BOTTOM: (Matt) H&M jacket, $119, BONDS tank top, $19, LEVI’S jeans, $159.95, HUSH PUPPIES shoes, $170; (Liam) TOMMY HILFIGER jacket, $1199, VENROY T-shirt, $100, ZEGNA pants, POA, CONVERSE shoes, $130

These days, The Inspired Unemployed has a combined following of 4.2 million across Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. Steele and Ford have appeared in skits with the likes of Margot Robbie, presented on the ARIAs red carpet, played festival stages, ventured into the drinks industry with their brand Better Beer, inked an exclusive podcast deal with Spotify and, together with friends Dom and Liam, released their own television show, The Inspired Unemployed (Impractical) Jokers in August this year.”

Across the eight-episode series, the boys were each put into their own version of a nightmare scenario, and fed lines to recite from the other three boys. “We studied what our fears were and we made them happen just for the TV show,” Ford explains. Landing the series was a pie-in-the-sky dream that happened sooner than anticipated. “A TV show has been our biggest goal since forever,” he continues. “I never thought this would ever happen– I didn’t think any of it would happen – but the whole way through we’ve said the dream would be a TV show.” As their star rises, they admit that reconciling their growing success with the original image of being everyday larrikin boys from Kiama is a worry. “I mean, look at us now, eating lunch in a freaking network studio,” Steele says. “You know that wasn’t happening four years ago.” But that’s why they still live with each other down the coast, minutes away from their other four best friends who they’ve known since school. “Our friendship is the most important thing,” Ford emphasises. “We’d rather maintain that than any of this shit. That’s what comes first.”

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Editor-in-Chief
JUSTINE CULLEN
Managing Editor
Elle Glass
Executive Editor
Laura Agnew
Creative Director
HANNAH MARTIN
Fashion Director
RACHEL WAYMAN
Associate Editor
Kathryn Madden
Digital Editor
COURTNEY THOMPSON
Designer
Zahra Stockman
Market Editor
ANNIE DOIG
Content Writer
Maeve Galea
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Commercial Director
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Client Services Manager
Grace Hannah
Editorial & Advertising Coordinator
Delaney Ashton
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SIMON BOOKALLIL
COO
DAVID ASTWOOD
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