Custom(er) Stories: InStitchu is proud to celebrate the success, passion and style of those who shop with us, exploring the inspiration of innovators, athletes, fun-seekers, curators and experts from all walks of life. We caught up with TV Personality and Survivor Series contestant, Luke Toki, on how to conquer and survive the spotlight of reality television.
Luke, tell us about your Survivor experience—what’s it like being on the ground? How does it affect your mentality and body?
It's surreal, the whole process from applying, to auditioning, to being selected and then landing on a remote beach with 24 strangers.
Survivor is a game where you must prepare for the worst and hope for the best - the moment you arrive at the airport, in my case "Samoa and Fiji", you are blind-folded and separated from anyone until the game begins and then you might be eliminated early or may last the whole 50 days, my experience personally was full of twists and turns.
The weight just fell off you and it was impossible to escape the sun with most of the challenges being endurance and out in the sun. I laughed and cry, was betrayed and found best friends for life. It took me well and truely out of my comfort zone, but ultimately helped me grow so much as a person - I don't think there is a Survivor player alive that regrets playing.
Were you a fan of the show from way back, or was it a new challenge that presented itself?
I was a fan of the show, but it wasn't like I was at home trying to start a fire with a flint on my days off work! Survivor has always been advertised as the hardest thing you can do on television - it’s essentially a human hunter and gatherer, social experiment on TV. Knowing I've always enjoyed spending time in the ocean, fishing, camping and in the outdoors, I felt like it was my calling and I felt that I had the resilience to test myself against the elements.
You’re a Dad - how was it being away from your children, without any contact or knowledge of the outside world?
Spending such a long time away from the family without any contact was incredibly difficult and affected not just me but my entire family - my three beautiful kids and wife, who looks after us all. I knew my wife would have little support at home with the kids, which I was so stressed about, not being there to help, so mentally the way I made sense of not being there, was by treating Survivor like a job - previously I have worked in fly-in-fly-out roles and that's how I justified it in my head. I just took the opportunity by the horns and felt I was there to for my family - they were my biggest motivation and inspiration and I had to make the time away from them worthwhile. I just thought, sometimes in life you need to take a little risk if you want to succeed. When I got back from Survivor so much had happened, I had missed so much and changed myself - we had a new Prime Minister and I had lost 14 kilos but luckily I don't grow much facial hair so my kids could still recognise me!
You’ve appeared on the show twice. Was it easier the second time, or more difficult, because you knew what you were in for?
I think both seasons were hard and some days were definitely harder than others! In my first season of Survivor, I competed on an isolated stretch of beach in Samoa where we had to endure a 10 day downpour of torrential rain due to a cyclone, with only the clothes on our back.
My second season of Survivor I left my six week old daughter with my wife, after my daughter had just been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). That was the hardest to endure - being away from my family during this time, at a time when they needed me the most, and I remember I kept thinking, what am I doing out here, is this worth it? I just tried to remind myself that I was there to try to win for my family's future - again, they were my biggest inspiration and motivation.
In your opinion, what does it take to win Survivor?
I think having a very good social game is the most important thing and the best 'tools in your shed' would be how you handle adversity, your resilience and how you create friendships and mend broken ones, followed by being a good listener and your ability to think on your feet. The game moves fast, so you need to make sure you are having lots of conversations and are forming strong alliances - also, you will find out very quickly that people tell lies out there to win!
Tell us about winning Big Brother VIP 2, your experience and the Perth Children's Hospital Foundation.
The Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation was the charity I was fighting for in Big Brother VIP 2 and I was lucky enough to win, raising $110,000 for the Foundation. I knew my family would be spending a lot of time there due to my daughter's Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis and I feel very privileged and grateful to have won - ultimately the money will go towards research to help improve sick children's lives.
What was it like adapting to life after Survivor and Big Brother?
Big Brother was a walk in the park compared to Survivor! I had a comfy bed, a shower, a fridge and less than half of the time away from my family. I think that about says it all!
Tell us about your life, work and passions?
I'm a social butterfly, I like being around people all the time and am currently studying to be a Real Estate Agent along with podcasting!
Talk to us about your sense of style. How do you dress each day? What are the garments and looks you gravitate toward ordinarily?
I am not one for fashion, so it was great to be walked through the custom suiting process with my Stylist at the Showroom. Prior to that, I’ve been known to wear long pants in warm weather and shorts and a singlet when it rains!
How was your InStitchu experience? Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted, or were you guided by your Stylist?
I'm quite indecisive, so with a little bit of help from my Stylist, we chose a fabric and design I’ve always wanted - I love the final product.
Take us through the suit you designed. What are the details that you chose and why?
I wanted to stay away from traditional blue, black and grey and went for a bold, dark green, check design and I love it - I thought why not go against the grain like I normally do in life, that's one thing I keep consistent! My suit is personalised and I loved choosing all the details, I love the buttons—I feel quite handsome in it [laughs]!
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