In 1991 our first retail store opened in Geelong. From these humble beginnings, we’ve taken our spirit to the globe, making sure Nigel’s vision for what our customers want is delivered every time. We want to give people the latest fashion at the right price. Value drives everything we do. In fact, if an idea doesn’t add value to our customers, our people, our brand or the community, we keep working on it until it does.
The turning point came at age 18 when Nigel’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. Armed with a pile of denim acid wash sample jackets, he headed to the Beckley Market in Geelong and set up shop. Customers loved the jackets and were trying them on, however he left the market without making a sale. Disappointed but not deterred, Nigel chatted to his dad and returned the next week. He had an epiphany and dropped the price – the jackets sold out instantly. It was the start of something big.
To ‘Cotton On’ to something means to understand or discover the potential of a great idea. As a Group, we’ve always believed in big ideas matched by a fierce will to bring them to life. It all started in the late eighties, when acid wash and lycra ruled the fashion world. Nigel Austin, our founder, grew up in Geelong with strong family ties to the rag trade. His dad owned a manufacturing and importing business and Nigel would spend school holidays learning the ropes with his dad in Hong Kong.