A ‘Short’ History of Stubbies
A success story like no other.
Since 1972 Stubbies has been clothing a nation at work, rest and play. Today the brand Australians have come to love and trust specialises in workwear, casual wear and schoolwear.
The Stubbies brand was established in 1972 by clothing manufacturer Edward Fletcher and Co.
Edward Fletcher and Co was established in 1939 and was a reputable producer of men’s and boy’s wear sold throughout Australia. Edward Fletcher started the business with a staff of only 16. The brand name gained recognition in 1942 when Edward Fletcher and Co was awarded the job of supplying Army and Air Force Uniforms for World War II. After the war and its success with military uniforms, they began producing workwear.
In 1972 the Stubbies brand was born.
Recognising room in the men’s market for a stylish, low cost, all-purpose short, a new short style was developed: ‘the short short’. At a $1.99 retail price this short represented fantastic value to the Australian male and was an instant hit.
Choosing a catchy name for the new short proved difficult. After many failed suggestions, such as Middies, Slinkies, Runnies and Donkeys, inspiration came from Australia’s favourite drink. Basically, after days of trying to come up with a name, one of the salesmen got up and said “This is thirsty work, I’m going out for a stubbie [of beer].” The meeting went quiet, the same thought crossing their minds.
The Stubbies short launched in July 1972 with a television commercial featuring a number of workmen and sporty blokes wearing the shorts. They were launched as “the short that fit any body”. By the end of the year more than 750,000 pairs of Stubbies were sold across Australia, making it Australia’s favourite short.
The Stubbies name became so successful that in 1978 Edward Fletcher and Co changed its name to Stubbies Clothing Co.
By 1980 Stubbies shorts, known as “the little shorts for the big jobs”, became the best-selling men’s short in the country selling over 4.5 million pairs each year.
Stubbies and Australian Culture
Stubbies are considered an Australian institution.
Stubbies has become part of Australian culture so much so that it has entered Australasian vernacular, referred to in the Australia Macquarie Dictionary as “short shorts of tough material for informal wear”.
Stubbies is also translated in the Dinkum Dictionary (a guide to Aussie English) as “strong shorts for men”.
They have even adorned the backsides of Aussie celebrities including Crocodile Dundee himself, Paul Hogan.
Stubbies and Surfing
The Stubbies Classic was held annually in March at Burleigh Heads, Queensland.
In 1977 the official entry form was the pocket plaster from a pair of Stubbies board shorts, allowing one to even surf in the elimination rounds. All you had to do was buy a pair of the shorts and you could have surfed in the contest alongside the likes of surfing greats Mark ‘MR’ Richards, Michael ‘MP’ Peterson and Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew.
In 2007 Surfing Queensland honoured Surfin’ Stubbies 30th Year Reunion with a charity auction. Among the items up for bid were a Michael ‘MP’ Peterson replica surfboard, Mark ‘MR’ Richards surfboard, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew photo as well as a limited edition Peter Crawford photo of Michael Peterson.
Stubbies and Rugby League
Stubbies Clothing Co was the first Queensland sponsor for the inaugural State of Origin rugby league match in 1980. The tag line “Stubbies on your side” decorated the chests of these rugby league greats and established an affinity between Stubbies and Queensland Rugby that has transcended time and States.
The partnership between Stubbies and Queensland Rugby is forged into rugby history. In 2005 the Former Origin Greats (FOGs) invited Stubbies to attend a night with the ‘Originals’, the 1980 Queensland State of Origin Team, including Mel Meninga, Wally Lewis and Arthur Beetson (to name a few).