Fashion, Clothing and Footwear

blonde female arms crossed over clothing racks clothes hanger and display rails retailThis retail sector sells women's, men's and children's clothes, shoes and accessories. Most stores specialise in one of these, but others combine different elements or offer ranges across all groups, such as a store selling shoes for men, women and children. There are 636 stores in South Australia specialising in selling clothing and another 78 specialising in selling footwear.

Accessories include items such as underwear; socks and stockings; handbags; gloves; sunglasses; costume jewellery and hats. Clothing includes leather, fur, sportswear and uniforms. These retailers are driven by the fashion seasons and latest trends to ensure they meet consumer demand.

Many stores have a very specific focus - for example, they may specialise in only one or two brands linked to a specific manufacturer; target a particular age group; only sell upmarket designer labels; stock only budget-priced brands; combine sportswear and sports shoes; combine underwear and sleepwear; only stock larger sizes; only sell Italian shoes or sunglasses. Nearly 6,000 South Australians are employed in the sector - three-quarters of them selling clothing.

South Australians spend $90 million a month in clothing, footwear and accessory stores.

Sector Leaflet Fashion Clothing & Footware


Download the Fashion, Clothing and Footware Sector Leaflet (3.87MB)



Michael Bois

Industry profile Michael BoisName: Michael Bois
Age: 29
Place of Work: Swarvie Saint
Role: Owner
Qualifications: Advanced Diploma HR Management, Advanced Diploma Management, Currently studying Bachelor of Management (DBHM)

Retail found me! While studying I worked in retail at Estee Launder, then had a break for three years, but returned to retail in 2007 and opened Swarvie Saint. I realised from my experience at Estee Lauder that I really enjoyed customer service. My role became more than simply reaching targets and achieving 'multiple unit sales'. I enjoyed my job most when the customer I served was happy. It's a very unique feeling. My primary role is to serve customers, then buying and merchandising, and the less glamorous cleaning and other housekeeping jobs.

As an owner, there's also bookkeeping, report writing, brand management, marketing, brand succession planning and the list goes on.

I love composing outfits that work both aesthetically and emotionally. People come in different shapes and sizes and sometimes the greatest and most enjoyable challenge is creating an outfit that not only looks amazing, but speaks for (and of) the individual wearing it. The least enjoyable part of my job is cleaning the store and folding clothes. Growing up, I liked everything neat, tidy and ironed to a crisp. Nowadays, I don't mind a bit of mess.

I have studied human resources and management at both university and TAFE. Although the courses better equipped me to work in fashion, there are some things they cannot teach. Most of my retail skills are a result of the training I undertook while working at Estee Lauder.

Making buying decisions for a broad demographic is more difficult than it may appear. Something you love may not have the same reception when on the shopfloor (and the reverse). I had to learn how to buy clothes the expensive way. Sometimes too many, sometimes too few. For instance, shortly after opening we ordered one beautiful Dom Rebel Swarovski crystal t-shirt priced at $1000. Our mistake was that we only ordered one. Who would have thought that in little ol' Adelaide people would buy a $1000 t-shirt? Well, they did, and still do!

Trainer. Mentor. Friend - she is all of them. Sandra Agostini-Greco was my trainer at Estee Lauder and has been a great inspiration. Among many things, she helped me understand the fundamental connection between the sale and the emotion. This has made me a better retailer and a more conscientious businessperson.

The best piece of advice I have been given is 'If you don't feel it, don't buy it'. In retail you need to understand completely what it is you are selling. From fibre to fabrication, you have to know your brands or products inside-out.

There's nothing more comforting than a salesperson that can tell you, ' really shouldn't wear a skinny wax denim jean with those loafers. It doesn't work. Try this instead...'

I would encourage others to work in this industry because of the people! You have the opportunity tomeet and work with some amazing ones.



Julie Tsaconas

Julie Spendless ShoesName: Julie Tsaconas
Age: 40
Place of Work: Spend-less Shoes
Role: National Sales Manager
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Diploma of Education
Estimated salary range for this job role: $81-100K

I have worked in retail most of my life, starting in a chocolate shop in 1983. Retail helped me pay my way through University.

“I have been a teacher but my true vocation has always been in retail."

I approached Spend-less Shoes with my resume, ready to learn and gained an entry level position then proved my worth with hard work and long hours. An opportunity to be the State Manager in Perth came even though I was only 26 and quite inexperienced I jumped at the role. Moving to another state alone and with no experience was hard. I had to overcome loneliness, self doubt, and lack of experience. In retail a lot of the learning that I did in those early days was on the job. So when you made a mistake (and I made plenty) it was always very public. That teaches you great humility!

My mentor showed me how to get better organised, how to be calm under pressure, how to inspire people to want to work hard for me without having to ask and how to forgive myself when I did make a mistake. It is always very valuable to have a person that you can talk to about the trials and tribulations of the day - to 'empty the trash' as they say.

In my current role I am responsible for all retail operations on the selling floor and act as mentor and coach to 15 Store Support Managers, monitor wage control, maximise sales potential, liaise with all back office teams and devise all training and development.

The best part of my role is motivating and training people to progress and grow. Coaching people to reach their full potential has so many benefi ts for the individual and for the company - it is not only the most rewarding part of my role for me, but also for the continued growth and success of the company. The worst part of my job is doing a lot of admin work - a necessary evil!

“While I started my retail career as many people do, out of necessity, I fell in love with the opportunities it offered and have not looked back since. "

Retail is one of those careers in which you can take on almost any speciality. I have learned about human resources, OHS, counselling and of course numbers, budgets and people, people, people. I have learned tolerance, grace under pressure, problem solving, and how to have fun at work. You can really shine in this industry. You can learn almost anything that you might be interested in. There are endless opportunities, from working as a salesperson to accountant to counsellor to recruitment person to the general manager. Your success is totally dependent on you. Your career can be as large as you want it to be and the opportunities are endless.

Retail has always been considered as a last choice career option, but people entering the industry today should rethink that old fashioned notion. I do not know any other profession in which you can be trained in so many areas of expertise and in which you can excel in so many fields with on the job training and development and endless opportunities.


Dennis Karis

DennisName: Dennis Karis
Place of Work: Shades
Role: Buyer
Estimated salary range for this job role: $70K +

Retail came as an opportunity after visiting an eyewear store in Sydney in the early 80s, and I saw a gap in the market place for fashionable sunglasses. For me, working on the relationships with the suppliers and their range comes first - it's about the direction and the store. You cannot be everything to everybody with buying it's about the right product and the range according to your market. As a buyer I have to research and always be prepared to travel - I love it!

Shades is a unique retail concept, catering from middle to high end eyewear, with a focus on fashion. We carefully select each range including deciding on every style and colour of sunglasses and only stock the worlds best and most exciting brands.

Buying for your market is the critical factor. If I need to travel overseas to discuss the brands with the suppliers then I do it! Every year I travel to Milan, the mecca for those who want to read the future in fashion.

It's not about negotiating it's about the look - the price and the margins. Importantly I try to look five years ahead to keep on top of the market because retail is forever changing. Shade is all about self expression, so as a buyer I am committed to finding new stock to reflect the imagination and personality of or customers. I aim to take the customer out of a narrow conservative past and into a new dimension of style, offering an essential blend of practicality, fashion and individuality.