Japan’s $750 Armani school kit sparks outrage

AFP
Published Feb 10, 2018, 2:13 am IST
Updated Feb 10, 2018, 2:13 am IST
School defends its decision to get good branding in an upscale district.
Though the school said the new uniforms are not mandatory, critics said parents would feel compelled to buy them to ensure their children were not left out.
 Though the school said the new uniforms are not mandatory, critics said parents would feel compelled to buy them to ensure their children were not left out.

Tokyo: A Japanese school’s plan to introduce Armani-branded uniforms for its students, at a cost of nearly $750 a pop, sparked complaints and fierce debate, even reaching as far as Parliament.

The local education board confirmed that the Taimei Elementary School in Tokyo’s flashy Ginza district will adopt the designer uniforms from April, with a full set costing parents around 80,000 yen ($740). While the school says the new uniforms are not mandatory, critics said parents would feel compelled to buy them to ensure their children were not left out.

 

Kyodo news agency said the local education board had received complaints from parents, unconvinced by the school’s explanation that the uniform would be good branding. In a letter announcing the uniform, the administration reportedly said the outfits were a bid to tie the 150-year-old school to the upscale Ginza district where it is located. But that did little to sway public opinion. “This shouldn’t have been about designer brands, or tradition. The officials should have thought about the children and made a decision after holding discussions,” one parent said.

“This is outrageous, kids' sizes change,” one disgruntled commentator wrote online. School principal Toshitsugu Wada admitted the price was “not low” but flatly denied any plans to back down, saying he wants to seek parents’ understanding.

“There are many brand shops in Ginza and I wondered if it is an option to borrow the strength of one of the brands” in order to further develop the school, Wada told reporters.

The principal also said he sounded out other brands such as Burberry, Chanel and Hermes about producing its school uniform. The uniform features sharply tailored blazers as well as add-ons like bags that can push the total set’s cost to around 90,000 yen, a price another commentator described as “just too expensive for uniforms for fast-growing children.” 

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