The History of Budgy Smuggler Pt 1

Budgy Smuggler started as a bit of a laugh amongst mates.

Why it has had some level of success, we’re not really sure, but here is our story...


A Backyard Conception

There are many mythical stories about the founding and history of Budgy Smuggler & almost all of them are true. The early details are bit hazy but it goes a little something like this...

A group of mates in a backyard in Sydney write ‘Budgy Smuggler’ on the back of a pair of speedo-style Swimwear as a bit of a laugh. They accidentally misspell ‘budgie’.

Budgy Smuggler was born.



Led by Lockie Harris and Tom Malone, the philosophy in the early day was essentially to get in smugglers and “get loose”.

This was a highly unsustainable strategy but we kept it going for a decade or so.

An early favourite marketing technique was to run the City2Surf in smugglers and hope that it made the news. We never did make the news but we made plenty of new friends along the way.

Website Launched

In 2005 the boys eventually develop their own pattern of swimwear and launch one of the early online businesses in Australia:

Everyone is insistent: "it will never work!"

  • Original Smugglers 2006: These are the very first smugglers and prior to even having a logo. This is an image from the original website.

  • Ladies Day at Cargo Bar, 2006

  • Preparing for City 2 Surf 2009.

Made in Australia

At the time many retailers were moving manufacturing overseas. We made the call to keep making our Swimwear here in Australia, led by our Master Maker Arnold who has made for a number of other iconic Australian brands including Speedo and Zimmerman. When you put on a pair of smugglers we want you to feel like you’re wearing a piece of Australia.

  • Master Maker - Arnold Makhlin

  • Chief Smuggler Linny with Arnold Makhlin with his wife Mila.



The next bit sounds a bit too ridiculous to be true, but it is 100% what happened. It was a meeting with Barrack Obama and the UN that was the catalyst for a change in ownership.

Lockie, the original Chief Smuggler, had been working as a media advisor to leader of the Australian Government opposition, Kevin Rudd, who rose from a long outsider to a landslide election win. Lockie then became the Principal Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of Australia and as a result he looked to sell the business.

In 2008 the ownership and Chief Smuggler baton at Budgy Smuggler officially changed from Lockie Harris to Adam 'Linny' Linforth.

Linny takes the reins and the business is run from a single bedroom at an apartment in Wentworth St, Manly.

Linny is a surf boat rower and sells smugglers out of his backpack while travelling around Australia to compete. Having just started out as a fan of the brand he can be seen serving drinks at an early smuggling event in 2007... 12 months later he had the keys to the smuggling bus... and no idea what to do with them.

  • Early Budgy Smuggler Designs - Linny (Far Right) at SLSC Nationals Scarborough Beach, Western Australia - 2009 with fellow competitors (left to right) Henry Adams, Tom Lee, Piers Warren, Elly Chapman & Stu Wickens.

  • Linny with Verity Boulton & Taylor Richards. SLSC Nationals Gold Coast 2011.

    Linny works with surf life saving athletes to develop the women's range: Smugglettes.



Budgy Smuggler is one of the first brands in Australia to represent the Aboriginal Flag in its range. One of the core principles at Budgy Smuggler is to showcase the best of Australia’s artists to the world. The majority of these artists are Indigenous and all artists earn a royalty on every pair sold.

fabric development

Budgy Smuggler switches to a fabric more suited for surf boat rowing where competitors need to pull the swimwear up their bum cracks and slide on a seat. Coincidentally, this is much more comfortable for non-water sports like Footy / AFL / Cricket or for wearing at music festivals and long distance BBQ’s. 

There were regularly days when we’d have more professional footballers buying pairs than every day punters. Our website even crashed one day when Steve Smith and Dave Warner were both batting in smugglers at a Sydney Cricket Ground Test and the commentators could see the Budgy Smuggler logo through their cricket whites. 

Budgy Smuggler becomes a Swimwear brand famous for sports that don’t involve Swimming (or even the water).


This one was a bit ridiculous in hindsight.

We literally shut the streets of Sydney through a world record attempt swimwear parade to raise funds for AIME (the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience).

People entering were sponsored to enter and we raised close to half a million dollars for Indigenous education.

  • Dancer Matty Shields entertaining the crowd in Martin Place.



Manly Sea Eagles and Indigenous All Star George Rose gains notoriety for revealing on TV the different design of smugglers he wears each week. Increasingly athletes like Buddy Franklin, Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper appear wearing the brand on and off the field.

  • George Rose Smuggling - An all time smuggling hero. 



After over a decade, Manly local BJ Hartmann becomes the first full time team member of Budgy Smuggler. Later he is joined by Angus Keenan and Nathan Linforth. 


We remove the bed from Linny’s bedroom and have our first ever office! We begin the transition from a hobby business to a business… that is still a hobby.

Also BJ has sweet pipes in that photo. He asked us not to mention that.

Budgy Office in 2015. From L, Brenden Hartmann, Stasia Linforth, Nathan Linforth, Alex Linforth, Jessica Harris & Adam Linforth. There are a lot of Linny’s in this photo.


A Pretty Big Year

Linny joins Full Time

Linny joins Budgy Smuggler full time. Prior to this he’d been focussing on Indigenous education and raised over $50 million for improving the graduation rates of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island high school students through his role at the mentoring program AIME. 

Budgy Smuggler UK Launch

We’re going global, baby! Linny moves to the UK to free the thighs of the good people of England, Ireland and Wales and to enjoy the British sunshine…

The strategy for growth in UK/Europe was pretty basic - find players who were good to have a beer with and then go and have a beer with them. One of the greats was England and British & Irish Lions player Jack Nowell who has been an absolute smuggling beast for us in the UK. Australian rugby players were incredibly helpful in spreading the smuggling gospel and the help of blokes like Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Damien Fitzpatrick and in particular Adam Ashley Cooper was huge to being able to reach teams across the Northern Hemisphere. 

Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig Launched

We host the inaugural search for Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig which encapsulates a lot of the ethos of smuggling.

Ordinary Rig was our way of countering that narrative that you needed to be ripped to be loved. What was most important was being someone that was good to be with and not just good to look at. For both our boys and girls range we’ve tried to focus on Budgy Smuggler being about sharing good times with your mates rather than what you look like.

  • Jack Nowell with Daniel Craig and Jonathan Joseph.

  • Dan ‘Dingo’ Leyden wins the Inaugural Australia’s Most Ordinary Rig.

  • Chief Smuggler Linny with our first UK Chief, Jimmy Exelby. Guess we did make it on TV after all.

Budgy Smuggler's First World Champion

The first athlete we ever sponsor, Tim ‘Reedy’ Reed, who Linny met at Wharf Bar some 5 years earlier, wins the 70.3 Ironman and the Australian Ironman championship in Budgy Smugglers. Reedy was also instrumental in helping us to develop the most comfortable fabrics possible.

  • Our first sponsored athlete: Tim Reed.

  • Many of Australia's leading athletes begin to fly the Smugglettes flag.This is a few of the Aussie 7's gold medallists from Rio at Ordinary Rig.

Continue to Part 2...