Uniforms that are a class apart
AUSTRALIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SINGAPORE
They assessed up to 40 prototypes Uniforms
Australian International School (AIS) Singapore welcomed 2014 with version 6.0 of its school uniform.
The navy-based uniform with stripes replaces five earlier versions, which spanned 18 years.
The aim: Modernise the outfit, so there's a standard look across all levels from ages four to 18 years.
An AIS spokesman said the uniform working committee (comprising parents, staff and students) took over a year to complete the overhaul.
The school at Lorong Chuan had also engaged Neptune Workwear's six-man team in 2012.
His team, which designed Horizon Primary and St Andrew's Autism School uniforms, presented up to 40 prototypes, said Neptune's managing director Jason Koh.
In the end, the school opted for navy-based stripes to move away from the traditional yellow-green combination that people linked with all things Australian, he said
Prices start from $45 for the preschool boy's uniform.
The fabric choice - lightweight, durable cotton - had to wow everyone, including those "not used to the tropical climate".
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
And nothing is too small to escape notice.
"Everything was sent for testing to ensure there's no toxic products, even the zippers on school bags," said Mr Koh.
Parents tend to have a uniform wish-list: Something fuss-free, cheap and easy to maintain. No ironing, please.
But even when all the criteria are checked, cutting comments still pop up, like the parent who told an AIS staff member: "You don't know what my son likes. Polyester's not for him."
Three changes in three years
Lavender and tartan are de rigeur at 42 Cherie Hearts childcare centres across Singapore.
No room for the previous yellow-purple uniform and it's farewell to the yellow-maroon predecessor too.
But the new uniform is making some parents like civil servant Angie Ng, 33, hot under the collar. She bought six sets of uniform for her daughter, four, who is enrolled at a branch in the south. Each set of new uniform costs $29.
TNP asked G8 Education Singapore's head of marketing, communications and franchising Marjorie Tan about Ms Ng's concerns. The Australian-listed G8 runs Cherie Hearts, Bright Juniors and Our Juniors' Schoolhouse preschool brands in Singapore.
Frequent changes: 3 looks in three years
Ms Ng: That works out to a new uniform a year, since March 2011. Parents find the frequent revamps expensive.
Ms Tan: Management had informed parents about the uniform change starting last June. Prior to its acquisition, Cherie Hearts' original uniform underwent a colour-and-design change by the previous management.
Previous management more flexible
Ms Ng: Children were allowed to wear old uniforms previously. I thought my girl can wear the older versions if the new uniforms don't dry in time.
Ms Tan: Children could still continue to wear their old uniforms in the interim (2011 to last year).
(We wanted) to improve the uniform quality and design. For example, the new material doesn't need ironing.
Ms Ng: I e-mailed asking for leeway in enforcing rules but spokesman preferred to get details about my child for verification.
Ms Tan: Staff recognise that unforeseen circumstances (happen and will) accommodate the child. Parents can inform the centre teachers as well.
WEST SPRING PRIMARY
Uniforms to be ready - in two years
All 210 pioneers at West Spring Primary heed a cutting-edge rule.
The Primary 1 pupils wear their physical education (PE) gear at all times, even during class.
Their school uniform will be ready two years from now, in 2016, after staff, parents and the pupils themselves decide on the final cut.
West Spring principal, Mrs Jacinta Lim, said: "The PE attire is more comfortable for play-based activities. We prefer to consult various stakeholders (rather than) decide on the uniform in a hurried manner.
"Since parents are the ones dressing their children, it's important to engage them and (get their) views first."
The winning look is likely to come from seven prototypes, done by second-year Temasek Polytechnic students Tiffany Ng and Ho Bao Yiing, both 18.
Miss Ng, who studies fashion design, and Miss Ho, who is enrolled in retail visual merchandising, met Mrs Lim while on a temp job in another school.
Miss Ng, who is doing the project for free, created four looks in four days including her favourite: A white and navy ensemble, complete with Mandarin collar.
Miss Ho, previously from Paya Lebar Methodist Girls', had three designs, completed in four days. She too is doing it for free.
Mrs Lim said factors like pricing, quality and comfort are key, adding: "The two-year process will give stakeholders enough time to collaborate and decide on the eventual design."
'Fresher look, greater comfort'
Stamford Primary hit headlines last year when the uniform supplier ran out of stock.
Pupils ended up wearing both the old and new attire on the first day of school.
This year, things went much more smoothly.
Principal Robin Ong told The New Paper why last year's revamp was necessary:
- The previous uniform design had been in use since the school started in 1984.
- The new outfit is more comfortable as it is designed with better material. It also "serves to foster a strong sense of belonging and pride in the school".
- Surveys and focus group discussions in 2011 and 2012 showed a majority of parents, students and staff supported a uniform redesign "to enhance the comfort of our students".