The funniest men on Instagram, Jack Steele and Matt Ford of The Inspired Unemployed, are addicted to making people happy – and in the latest streetwear arrivals, they just happen to look good doing it.
When we made a beeline for Sydney’s Luna Park for our streetwear shoot with The Inspired Unemployed, we figured that the goofiest guys on Instagram, plus the city’s most iconic fun fair would mean double the good times… right? Jack Steele, one half of the comedic duo, might have disagreed. We learn the day before the shoot that he has a white-knuckle fear of roller-coasters. “I’ve got claustrophobia or something. When I’m trapped on there I get dizzy and freak out.”
Case in point: “Literally a week ago I was coming home from dinner with my girlfriend and we saw this little [roadside carnival] set up. She thought it would be funny [if we stopped]. As soon as we were locked into this ride, I honestly thought I was either going to black out or scream.” The Zoom chat goes quiet while he lets the horror of his recount sink in. “It was one of those spinning teapots,” Jack’s collaborator, Matt Ford, chimes in.
Cementing his good-sport status, for this photoshoot the very next day Jack hops aboard a couple of Luna Park’s iconic (albeit relatively tame) rides without flinching, head to toe in the latest autumn streetwear pieces. When it comes to their personal style, Matt jokes his approach is akin to “Slick Rick’s,” but that Jack is decidedly “suave.” Jack backs him up: “I’m a bit more safe. [Matt]’s more Gucci. More vibrant.” It’s that irreverent approach to life and style that made Jack and Matt the dream team to help kick off our Mr Jones Style series. From style stories with personality to curated edits of must-have pieces, the series will provide an exclusive look at the new menswear to know – starting here, with the season’s coolest streetwear.
It’s hard to label The Inspired Unemployed simply as comedians or influencers – their craft also spans filmmaking, editing, writing, dancing and modelling – or even define exactly what it is they do. Yet two years on, their Instagram following has grown from 10k to more than 900,000 (and inching ever closer to one million) with offers for brand partnerships, TV interviews and cover shoots rolling in. Quite the meteoric rise for two guys who grew up in a sleepy coastal town and subsidised surfing, snowboarding and globetrotting with a semi-regular gig on the tools.
Together with their motley crew of mates, the pair has been creating content that taps into human truths since 2016. But it wasn’t until three years later when, while living together in the UK, Matt and Jack officially unleashed The Inspired Unemployed on the world – tapping into a fresh well of Australian comedy through hilarious skits that take aim at a new generation of real-life topics such as influencer beauty routines and dating during a global pandemic.
With such a positive response to their brand of funny, risking it all on the Wild Mouse roller-coaster is not the only thing The Inspired Unemployed boys will do to make people happy. “Bad stuff happens to us and we always laugh about it,” says Matt. “If you capture a bad moment and make it funny, it makes people feel better about what’s actually happening.” (No wonder their Instagram following skyrocketed in 2020). “It’s like an addiction, almost,” adds Jack. “We just love it. Making these short clips that somehow make people happy… which is not what we set out to do originally. We just did it because we loved it. And now people get a good kick out of it. So it’s win-win, really.”
Look sharp, keep smiling
BB Bohemian Hoodie
Spring Script Standard Tee
Tie Dye Sweatshirt
Mr Jones: If you were on LinkedIn, what would you label yourself as?
Jack Steele: My girlfriend’s nan thought I was a stand-up comedian and she was trying to tell her to steer clear of me. People can call us influencers (which we hate). Maybe entertainers? I don’t even know.
Do you workshop your videos or is it more about ‘gut feel’?
Matt Ford: We workshop things a bit. We share our ideas with each other, then whoever had the idea will go away and try to script something up.
JS: Then the other person will be like, “It’s pretty crap” or, “Yeah, that’ll work”. Then we take a 70 per cent finished script to film and improvise the rest.
That’s a decent chunk of improv.
MF: We never used to script our videos but now there’s so much more pressure since it’s kind of our “job” now. But we always end up going off script or improving it in the moment.
JS: Something [that you have] in your head could sound amazing to you, until you say it. Then you realise it’s no good and you just want to stop talking. You’re sorry you even brought it up.
The new classics
Oversize Barstow Long Sleeve Western Shirt
510® Skinny Jean
You’re from Kiama on the NSW South Coast. Do you aspire to be more famous than the region’s #1 tourist attraction, the Kiama Blowhole?
JS: Oh, I dunno. Everyone knows the blowhole.
MF: No one can be that famous.
JS: The blowhole would have a Wikipedia page, for sure. We don’t. Honestly, everyone you talk to about Kiama is like, “Oh, the blowhole!” and I’ve only been there once my whole life. I don’t even think it works anymore.
What does your family think of what you do?
JS: They’re so supportive. My dad was our old boss and I was going to take over the [family] business. When The Inspired Unemployed kicked off, Matt and I started having so many days off work; that would’ve hurt him but he never said it. And Matt’s mum and dad love it.
Have they featured in any of your videos?
MF: Your parents do quite a bit.
JS: Yeah, I think they got noticed at the supermarket a couple of times.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
JS: Probably almost all of them. With the ‘country men’, there was a guy on my job site who used to speak like that. Plus my dad did it as a joke to my mum to annoy her; he’d always whistle and carry on. And the influencers…
MF: We did that influencer video and we had a specific girl in mind. Afterward, she sent it to me saying, “Oh, this is the best video ever”. I was thinking, I swear it’s half based on her. But I can never really point to someone. I don’t want to be mean to them.
JS: You’ve got to grab inspiration. That’s why it’s relatable – because it’s people. They do this stuff. We probably do it. We’re influencers, too. We’re ripping on ourselves in a way.
Fly Trap Sweatshirt
XX Chino Slim Taper Fit Pant
Bowery Fleece Long-Sleeve Flannel Shirt
Infinite Merch Fit Tee
Watch along to see what happens when the boys take David Jones, having fun in new season fashion and embracing being “in the moment,” below.
Photography by Georges Antoni; Styling by Dannielle Cartisano; Words by John Agnew.