Why Sük Workwear wants to make its customers “feel really capable”


Launched in 2019, Sük offers practical and stylish workwear for women both online and at its store in Melbourne. After focusing on fit for the past two years, the brand now offers sizes 4-30, and is gearing up to launch new products and styles that work for all body types. Here, founder and creative director Mimosa Schmidt shares why she launched the brand, what the customer response has been like so far and what’s next for Sük. Inside Retail: Tell me the story behind Sük. What drove you to

to launch a women’s workwear brand? 

Mimosa Schmidt: I grew up on farms and really identified as a country kid who loved getting dirty and working with animals and big trucks, and all that kind of thing. In my 20s, I was looking for work on farms and building sites. It’s hard work to get for a young woman, but I was super keen to try to make a living using my hands. I really fought my way into some of these jobs, but they were uncomfortable places to work. 

One of the easiest things to tease a young woman about on a worksite is what she is wearing, and no matter what I wore, I either looked like a dag or it just wasn’t right. One particular job I had was really hot and hard work – 20-plus hour days  – and I needed to wear full coverage. I researched and researched, but couldn’t find a boiler suit, so I just started mentally designing one. 

When I started to think about what it might mean to have a women’s workwear clothing line, I thought about feeling out of place and having to work really hard to get the respect or the confidence that a lot of dudes walk onto the job – or into life – having, and it started to take on a sort of philosophical bent. I thought about the community that I wanted to build, and that was one where everyone was welcome. 

Founder Mimosa Schmidt. Image: Supplied

IR: Sük has offered a wide range of sizes from the beginning, though you had some problems with fit initially. Can you tell me about your approach to inclusive sizing and how that’s evolved since you first launched the brand in 2019?

MS: When I started Sük, I didn’t know much about the fashion industry. I just knew what I’d seen in Kmart, and so I said, ‘Let’s do sizes 6-24.’ I was trying to get this brand off the ground and do it as inclusively as I knew how, but we didn’t get the fit right, particularly for sizes 18 and up. Our first iteration was small, so we had to really work on improving the grading. We started working on it in the second half of 2020 and were polishing it off in 2021. 

We didn’t design any new styles during that period, I just wanted to make sure we were being as inclusive as we said we were. I sort of approached it like we were launching again for the first time, and in a lot of ways we were, because we launched a new size chart up to a size 30 and redeveloped our garments from the beginning.

IR: I imagine there are a lot of women in industries like the ones you used to work in who are excited to have workwear designed for them. How have customers responded to Sük?

MS: Definitely. There have been a lot of tradies and farmers saying, ‘Finally, workwear that I can wear.’ There’s also another demographic of artists and gardeners and hobbyists, who just want a pair of overalls. They look at guys in their Hard Yakka on the weekend, and they’re like, ‘Man, it looks good to be you.’ There’s a real need for [women’s workwear] for people in trades, but then, there’s also just this real desire to wear something that makes you feel really capable. 

I don’t do physical labour anymore – apart from what I might do around the warehouse – but I appreciate clothing that’s really practical and fits well and looks good, a uniform that ticks a lot of boxes. Women’s fashion isn’t often thought of as being really sturdy and practical as well as form-fitting.

IR: A lot of your product images and marketing campaigns show women doing different kinds of manual labour. It’s really empowering and unique. Can you share the thinking behind it?

MS: There have been a lot of hard lessons with Sük, because I don’t come from a fashion background. But because of that, things like our imagery just make sense to me. Do I appreciate how radically different that is? I think it’s a little bit too sad for me to think about. I more so think about what would be really exciting for me to see. I want to see an older woman in a crop top riding a motorcycle down the paddock to milk the cow, because I want to be doing that when I’m older. I know there are people out there who do it, and I want to find them, be inspired by them and share their stories. I’m less thinking about being disruptive, and more just thinking about what is exciting. 

IR: What have the last 12 months been like for the brand? What are some of the major projects that you’ve been working on?

MS: We’ve been really focused on communicating the sizing changes that we made and reconnecting with that community that fits in the size range of 18-30. I feel like we made so many mistakes when we first launched, and I really want to make up for them. A lot of that community was like, ‘You think it’s hard for you to find clothes? It’s a double doozy for us. We want workwear and we want it in our size. Even you, who promised the world, failed us.’ 

I really wanted to nail it, so it was tools down, we have a problem, we’re going to fix it. Now, we’re just picking up some new styles that we may see towards the end of the year. I’m trying to get the brand to a place where we have all the bases covered with jackets, as well as boiler suits and pants, and making sure that we have all body types covered as well. 

We’ve had some feedback, for example, that our boiler suit and overalls have quite a fitted waist, and if you have a wider waist, or if you’re one size on top and another down below, you need a different kind of suit to fit your body. It’s about making sure that we’re inclusive as we can be, but not because it ticks a box. I’m coming from a place where I know the frustration of not being able to find something to work in, or that’s practical to wear. 

Going to your wardrobe and feeling stressed that you need to find something to wear to work and knowing that you’re going to feel out of place – when that’s your reality every day, it sucks. It’s amazing now that I have something for my body, and I never have to think about that anymore. I really do want to do everything I can to deliver that to as many people as possible. 

IR: What are your top priorities for the year ahead?

MS: We have some new styles coming, but we haven’t gone overboard. I’m always really conscious of delivering less product and making it really good quality. The next thing I would like to do is grapple with our environmental footprint. We’ve put measures in place to ensure we don’t have any wastage, but there’s always more that you can do. To get to that next level though is really extreme. You’re talking about tracking your cotton right to the source. We have completely transparent supply chains, but there’s another level to it. It’s going to be quite intensive, but I think that’s what next year holds for us in terms of our really big goals.

IR: Is there an aspect of the brand that you’re really proud of? 

MS: When I have the opportunity to work in our shop, especially around this time of year, people will come in looking for a pair of pants and they’ll mention that they can’t wear shorts because society has told them whatever about their body. And then I’ll see them walk out of the change room in a pair of shorts, and they’ll say it’s the first pair of shorts they’ve ever liked. I love seeing someone realise that they have the freedom to show their body – it never ever gets old to me. The other thing is when someone tells me how approachable they think Sük is – it’s empowering and exciting, but also daggy enough that everyone can get amongst it. That makes me really proud as well, that we’ve managed to communicate this feeling that everyone is welcome.


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