Aestheticising retail workers: Orientations of aesthetic labour in Australian fashion retail

Richard Hall, Diane van den Broek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The term aesthetic labour has come to describe the recruitment, selection, development and deployment of physical and presentational attributes geared towards looking good and sounding right (Warhurst and Nickson, 2007: 104). Further research has identified a degree of stratification within interactive service work, with further distinctions developing around how particular aesthetic requirements reflect firms brand strategies, market orientations and how they appeal to different consumer groupings - what we term, following Pettinger (2004, 2005), aestheticised labour . This article presents quantitative data and analyses the prevalence, character and use of aesthetic and aestheticised labour in the Australian fashion retail industry based on a study of fashion retail stores in the central business district of Sydney, Australia. Building on previous work, it identifies that what constitutes aesthetic labour varies according to the market segment and character of the store and brand. As such it reinforces the utility of aestheticised labour as a means of identifying nuances in the intensity and orientation of aesthetic labour within the retail sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85 - 102
Number of pages18
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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