As a leading supplier of affordable, quality corporate clothing and promotional gifts, our concern gives much thought to our industry and others, which may be closely or loosely akin to what we do and the products we supply. We’d like to share a few of our observations with you.
Wearing a prescribed school or college uniform is not all that dissimilar from wearing corporate clothing, but how uniform and/or flexible are these types of apparel? Locally, throughout South Africa, both types of garments are worn each day from Monday to Friday – the typical work and school week, when employees are at work and scholars attend their lessons.
Uniform/Corporate Attire Outside the Workplace
On occasion, on weekends or after hours, school uniforms are worn at sports events, cultural or extracurricular activities, and interschool competitions. Likewise, corporate representatives dress in appropriate branded corporate attire to attend golf days and other outdoor events that the company for which they work supports or may assist by providing sponsorship, or with which they wish to display business solidarity.
Traditionally, almost every school has its own unique uniform, a distinct set of garments, and yet there are definite similarities between certain basic clothing items and that universal to all scholars’ attire, irrespective of the school and the individual apparel which identifies it.
For boys, the commonplace items include grey shorts or long pants, and white long or short-sleeved shirts, generally worn with grey socks and black or brown lace-up shoes.
Girls’ uniforms were rather more varied. In many cases, white short-sleeved blouses (long-sleeved white shirts in winter), white anklet socks in summer, grey bobby socks in winter, and black or brown lace-up or T-bar shoes. Summer school dresses and winter gymslips completed the girls’ basic school wear ensemble.
Each learning facility has its own rules and regulations about how, when and where uniforms must be worn. Heaven help the scholar who disregards the dress code. In the business world, corporate clothing ranges allow for much more flexibility, since most companies adopt a mix and match philosophy within the range that they select.
In a corporate environment, one finds considerably less universality, footwear styles perhaps being the most significant exception – black or brown lace-up or slip-on shoes for men in formal workwear, and black, navy or dark-coloured court shoes for ladies dressed in formal corporate clothing.
School badges, the schoolwear equivalent of corporate logos, usually appear on the chest pockets of blazers, worn by both boys and girls, representing the formal finishing touch to their school uniforms, the equivalent of corporate clothing, which distinguishes each school from its counterparts. Just by looking at the blazer, its colour and badge, one can identify the individual institute and its members – the students, who “belong” to that particular learning facility.
In the latter case – easily identifiable identity and logo recognition, precisely the same applies to business attire, ready recognition being a major aim of the organisation, which seeks to set itself apart from its competitors in order to gain that all-important edge.
Cost and Affordability Factors
Suppliers of school uniforms are at their busiest at the beginning of each year, just after the Christmas season’s big spend, and before schools open for the academic year. Parents complain about rising costs, availability and affordability. Conversely, suppliers of superior selections of modern corporate clothing that incorporates a multitude of fashionable and/or classic styles, designs, fabrics, and colours are busy throughout the year, which helps to keep their costs contained and their prices affordable.
Scholars cannot wait to get out of their uniforms once their school day is over. On the other hand, many an employee is only too happy to be provided with corporate clothing, which is actually a perk. They no longer need to ponder about what to wear to work; they don’t have to spend earnings on workwear – the height of flexible, affordable attire.