School uniforms: Students wish sassy, schools wish classy

October 4, 2015 - School Uniform

Each week, we find consultant recommendation to assistance a tiny or medium-sized business overcome a pivotal issue.

Since husband-and-wife group Tammy Hattem and Patrick Lepage started creation uniforms 14 years ago for Saint-Stanislas delegate propagandize in Saint-Jerome, Que., they have overcome many challenges.

Their company, RaphaëlU, is now skilful during fulfilling orders for some-more than 50,000 students during scarcely 50 schools via a province. Ms. Hattem and Mr. Lepage have schooled to outsource production, generally to Asia. The partners have delicately tended money upsurge to enhance though seeking outward financing. And they have managed a anniversary work force, that swells from 30 year-round employees to 175 as any new propagandize year gears up.

But a Blainville, Que., association still faces one large challenge: How to pattern collections that heed to a basis of a propagandize uniform while being as appealing as possible?

Students pronounced of early designs, “‘It feels like we’re regulating around in a pajamas,’” Ms. Hattem says, laughing, since a designs were kept elementary for palliate of grouping and production.

The association now employs dual people with pattern degrees, and also seeks recommendation from Eve Gravel, a Montreal-based conform designer. This has resulted in improvements, such as some-more propitious clothing, generally for girls, as good as singular detailing. RaphaëlU’s exclusive plaid gives a charming turn to a pockets and waistbands of boys’ pants. The association offers 7 colours of polo shirts.

The changes have done students happy, Ms. Hattem says, though she knows designs contingency continue to evolve. The problem is how to make a garments demeanour good while regulating stout polyester fabrics that can be cleared many times though fading.

While a students like to demeanour and feel their best, cost-conscious relatives wish uniforms that will final as prolonged as probable and keep their colour. The association contingency also import conform trends opposite a schools’ enterprise for a one demeanour and garments that simulate a suitable volume of seriousness.

“We’re famous for a good stylish uniforms,” Ms. Hattem says. “But it takes a unequivocally prolonged time to get out a good product since we have to work with these hard, durable materials. We have to make everybody happy.”

The Challenge: How can RaphaëlU make a line of wardrobe that is select adequate to greatfully students, durable adequate to greatfully relatives and regressive adequate to greatfully schools?


Julie Cichon, professor, School of Fashion Studies, George Brown College, Toronto

Students generally know that uniforms can’t be following conform trends per se, though a association should be listening to them about what they would like to see changed. Historically, complaints about uniforms are generally a same. No. 1 is customarily a fit of a pant, with students angry that they are too boxy or baggy. Sometimes they wish some-more tapering for a tops.

Maybe a association needs to demeanour over sizing and cruise opposite physique shapes, generally for girls. Some have some-more jaunty bodies, some some-more curvy bodies. The lady who is a distance 14 is going to have opposite mandate than a lady who is a distance 4.

As for fabric, maybe they could use a multiple of polyester, rayon and spandex, that would be a bit softer. For polo shirts, they competence wish to demeanour toward a athletic-wear industry, that uses things like filigree fabric underneath a arms. This is some-more breathable and would keep a kids comfortable, as good as giving a bit of an corner to a design. It would cost more, though infrequently we have to consider outward a box and contend this is going to advantage us by creation us mount out from a competitors.

They could be doing some-more on amicable media. Have a foe in that students post photographs of themselves display a alterations they would like and afterwards have an online opinion to collect a winner, who could be given a giveaway uniform as a prize.

John Yan, comparison co-ordinator for communications, Toronto Catholic District School Board

Since we implemented a wide-ranging uniform and dress formula process in 2011 for a 92,000 students it has been a daunting charge anticipating suppliers who are not usually arguable though accommodate a goals set out in a goal and vision.

Today’s importance on personalization and customization is relevant. Our students see themselves as a personal prolongation of their propagandize code or crest. So carrying a product ecosystem of wardrobe accessories such as jaunty wear, hats, scarves and mitts would be a form of one-stop retailer we would wish to access. New online wardrobe customization companies like CustomInk are cashing in on this trend.

Cost is always important, as well. It is a process that no tyro will be denied entrance to propagandize as a outcome of inability to means a suitable clothing. Solutions embody anniversary discounts, swap-back programs and a collection complement for concession of outgrown items.

Being socially obliged also matters. We have a sweatshop-free purchasing process for all compulsory equipment and yield all schools and relatives with a list of retailers who have complied with satisfactory work practices and estimable sourcing requirements.

James Taylor, arch executive officer, B.C. Textile Innovations Inc., Port Coquitlam, B.C.

We do a lot of work uniforms, and a lot of a business cite to go with a polyester-cotton blends since they’re some-more comfortable. That can supplement 10 to 15 per cent to a cost of a fabric alone, though many of a business wish comfort, and cost isn’t as most of a concern.

But they also have all opposite kinds of fake fabrics now, such as microfibre and wicking polyester, a kind that is used for athletes. These fabrics would keep kids cold and looking good. They are also colour-fast.

RaphaëlU could pierce to a mix of 80 per cent polyester, 17 per cent string and 3 per cent lycra. That’s a track we would go to residence concerns both of comfort and cost. They would have to have that mix specifically made, though if they have a good fabric supplier, they could get them to do a exam run and take it from there.

I would give representation styles and fabrics to a schools to try out. But we wouldn’t give them so many choices that it would be tough for them to confirm or determine on one.



Look for stylish options that would make a association mount out from a competition.

Consider additional products

Students these days like accessories that have their propagandize branding or design on them.

Offer samples

Look for new fabric blends and give samples to a schools to try out – though not too many.

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Interviews have been edited and condensed.

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