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5 lessons in developing a new uniform

In the last 10 years, over 100 schools have used Schoolblazer to redesign their uniform. Here are the key lessons they've learned along the way...

Posted by Charley Rogers | October 09, 2017 | School life

1 UNIFORM IS A VITAL PART OF THE SCHOOL’S BRAND
Tim James, Co-Founder of Schoolblazer and ex-Marketing Director of Homebase: 
“We see uniform as the main signifier of the school brand. It is the element that is seen around town. Clothing expresses our identity and uniform is no different, from soft tweeds to show a more relaxed, country style, to pin stripes to show a sharper, more city style. All can reflect the brand, with bespoke yarns and colours to create a sense of real identity.” 

2 UNIFORM GARMENTS STILL NEED TO BE WELL CUT AND FASHIONABLE
Georgia Dungate, Design Manager of Schoolblazer with a degree in fashion and design: 
“Sometimes schools forget that, unless pupils want to wear the clothes they’ll wear them badly. Since I joined just over a year ago we’ve relooked at lots of our garments, focusing on improving the fit and styling, from simple things like improving the cut and fit of the jackets to introducing new shapes in knitwear and skirts to reflect changing trends.” 

3 FABRIC TECHNOLOGY IS VITAL
Charlotte Goodall, Uniform Buyer: 
“When I started working in schoolwear every product we saw from our suppliers was made with the most basic fabrics. I set out to change that and worked with some of the world’s leading textile experts. There have been amazing advances in fabrics over the last few years, improving comfort, durability and washability. I think our customers deserve to see these fabrics in schoolwear.” 

4 WORK WITH PUPILS AND PARENTS TO DRIVE THE CHANGE
Robin Horsell, Co-Founder of Schoolblazer and ex-Board Director of Dewhirst: 
“When we started the company we worked with the schools to develop new products but often forgot the pupils and parents. We’ve learned the hard way that involvement creates buy-in and now try to ensure that all of our design proposals are presented to parents and pupils in focus groups and that feedback is taken and acted upon.” 

5 GET THE LOGISTICS RIGHT FIRST TIME
Louise Crofts, Managing Director, Schoolblazer: 
“Too often schools select a supplier based on a simple cost comparison, or put up with poor service for too long. Logistics in schoolwear is hard, almost one in eight of our annual sales happens in the week of back to school. The best companies invest heavily in stock and a supply chain to cope with this demand and then survey their customers annually to work out where they need to improve.
"The overall lessons are that school uniform is increasingly seen by schools as a fundamental part of their identity, something that can be changed and redeveloped and is an ever more important part of their image. Done badly it’s a source of parental angst and an irritant. Done well it’s a source of pride and a demonstration of the school’s ethos.
"Uniform development and supply is a complex business requiring real expertise in design, fabric, marketing and logistics and the market is changing fast with new entrants who understand these factors rapidly replacing the traditional suppliers.”

W: schoolblazer.com 

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