Since launching in 2017, Thongs Australia has become widely known in the Aussie footwear space for its superior quality and longevity. Now, taking inspiration from the sneaker industry, the business is branching into the world of customisation and product personalisation.
When it came to establishing their own thongs business, the team at Thongs Australia knew they had to do it here in their own backyard. Scott Jungwirth, Marc Lord and Andrew Kuypers were three friends from Melbourne with a vision to improve the reliability and quality of the iconic Australian thong. Being the first of its kind, it took around 18 months to set up Australia’s first thong manufacturing business, including developing its own rubber compound.
Scott explained, “At the time, we were surprised that no one was doing it here - there were no companies actually making thongs in Australia. We knew that if we wanted to create a great product we had to be close to it. That made it challenging to start, but also presented us with an opportunity. If we could become the only company making thongs in Australia, it would give us something pretty special to work with.”
Working closely with a local rubber manufacturer, Thongs Australia has continued developing the natural rubber compound with which their thongs are made.
“We’ve come a long way since 2017, as we’ve really honed our research, development and manufacturing processes. Natural rubber is similar to wine in that different environmental factors can affect the end product that you end up with. It is a surprisingly complex process. Over the years, with ongoing research and trials, our team has developed a compound that gives our products the comfort, quality and longevity they need,” said Scott.
“It’s one of the benefits of manufacturing locally. We don’t need to fly across the globe or do a video call to check in on product samples. We can just pop into the manufacturing facility. Being Australian Made gives us so much more control, flexibility, the ability to manage our stock and supply, assemble to order, and work in smaller increments for custom product orders.”
The continual improvement in the quality of Thongs Australia products has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, off the back of a feature in the Australian Financial Review, several investors came on board to raise enough money for the Australian Made business to invest in its own printing equipment. This has opened up opportunities for Thongs Australia to focus on making customised orders for their customers.
By doing both manufacturing and printing in-house, Thongs Australia is now able to offer Aussie shoppers the ability to fully customise the designs and even the number of pairs in each order.
“We’ve been a little inspired by the growth of customisation in the sneaker space and are now really excited to offer this personalisation to our customers, as it hasn’t really been done before with thongs,” Scott explained. “Instead of being limited to large batch sizes like you would be using third parties, if a local sports club wants to order 12 pairs of thongs with custom club colours, we can make that happen.”
Even with costs of living increases, Thongs Australia has ensured that its products remain accessible to as many Australian shoppers and businesses as possible. “We want anyone, whether it’s a local surf lifesaving club, a local footy club or a big corporate organisation, to be able to order their own personalised Australian Made thongs” said Scott.
To make the process easy for their customers, Thongs Australia have also created an online tool enabling individuals or companies to design their own thongs on the spot by selecting their preferred sole and strap colours along with adding logos and tailored messaging.
Along with controlling stock levels and making small batches of products to ensure less material is wasted, Thongs Australia credits the longevity of its thongs as its main sustainability cornerstone. “If you buy a cheap product, it will wear out, and you will need to replace them. And at the heart of sustainability is buying less. Our thongs are made to last,” said Scott. “The repeat buyers we get are people who want to gift them to others because they’re so impressed by the comfort and quality.”
The Thongs Australia team is proud to display the iconic Australian Made kangaroo on their locally-made thongs and even embedded the logo in the straps of its thongs.
“We knew that if we were going to go to all the effort to set up a local manufacturing facility, the costs of employing local people and everything involved - we wanted people to know unequivocally that our products were made in Australia. That’s why we are so proud to carry the Australian Made logo on our thongs,” said Scott. “It represents all our hard work and the pride we have for making our Aussie thongs here in Australia.”
Find out more about Thongs Australia at www.thongsaustralia.com