Goofy, outrageous and silly wouldn’t be the words you’d first associate with two of the country’s biggest rising stars—but that’s exactly how I’d describe The Inspired Unemployed duo, Matt Ford and Jack Steele.
Just a couple of years ago, the pair found themselves stranded in a “shitty hostel” in Europe, with “no friends, no data and snowed in”, when the idea was sparked to begin creating the videos that have since become a permanent, and hilarious, fixture on Instagram (originally named PlanetaryTV).
The concept quickly turned the two tradies from the south coast of New South Wales into overnight sensations—at least, for us, it seems fitting of an overnight success, but for Matt and Jack, it’s been years in the making, as they tell me over Zoom.
“We started making videos and then we just kept doing it,” Jack explains, adding that their now 700,000 plus following was only accelerated thanks to this year’s lockdowns and our need to find an escape on pages such as theirs.
While the pair describe their success as a slow burn, you might remember a video released in late 2019, where the two danced to the track of La Bouche’s Be My Lover. They were, and are regularly, joined by their friends—Bill, Grant, Callum, Liam, another Bill, and Dom.
Safe to say, that clip of the group dressed in head-to-toe-black like an Australian version of the Backstreet Boys (or perhaps a kookier and dishevelled version of the Village People), catapulted them into the mainstream feed.
Crediting the following growth to their “backlog” of videos, the months of work they’d put in kept many coming back for more. And still coming back for more.
“I think all the hard work before that, even though the videos were probably pretty shit, helped us so much. When people did go on the page, instead of just having one video, there was heaps to watch,” says Jack.
Just weeks after that viral video, the pair decided to take the plunge and quit their jobs to focus solely on The Inspired Unemployed—a decision they haven’t looked back on.
“That’s when it got real, and that was probably the scariest bit because you still don’t know if it’s going to work out,” Matt said. “We just thought, if we quit and just go hard at it, make as much as we can and see how it goes.”
“Then it worked out, luckily,” they both say, laughing.
The pair has since been pegged by some of the world’s leading fashion houses to star in their campaigns—from Louis Vuitton to Fendi—and have already been spread across the pages of GQ and Vogue.
Their latest venture is one of their largest productions to date, collaborating with THE ICONIC to create the retailer’s summer runway, Runway Everywhere—which, like many things in 2020, was taken to the virtual realm.
But don’t think that because it’s their biggest project to date, with the pair both choreographing and guest-starring, that we can’t expect the same silly energy they bring to everything they create.
Walking the runway alongside some seasoned faces in Georgia Fowler, Sam Harris and Charlee Fraser, the pair created a quirky spin on the typical fashion show—not wavering from the dance moves that have come synonymous with their videos.
“It’s a lot of movement, the energy is high,” Jack said ahead of the runway’s release. “We love it.”
Matt excitedly adds that the duo was able to choose the song—Black Box’s Ride On Time—a tune that adds a disco flair to their creation, watching as models of all shapes, sizes and colours walk unassuming runways, including a library, a cinema and a bus.
“Once we found the song, and once we found out we could use it, we thought this is going to make it incredible,” Matt said.
As for why the pair have become so entrenched into the world of fashion, given the rather ridiculousness of their page, they attribute it to themselves not being “meant in that world.”
“We take a less serious approach, and we let everyone be involved in it, where fashion used to be a bit more of an exclusive experience,” says Jack.
When asked what we can expect for the future of The Inspired Unemployed, they simply state: “Stay tuned.”