cheap school clothes?

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So it will be soon time for all the little monsters to go back to school so all us parents realise that in the course of six weeks they have all grown out of everything and everything has a hole in it some how. This can cost a fortune especially when you have a few kids at school age. Most people therefore are pleased to see that many shops and supermarkets are selling school clothes at a record low price £2 £3 for trousers for example.

On the face of it it seems great but at what cost do we benefit from such cheap prices? We save a little cash but on the other side of the world somebody takes home around £18 a month to keep our kids clothed on the cheap. Don’t get me wrong if you are a single parent with kids on benefit you want to get the cheapest clothes possible, even if you are struck by the ethical dilema.

Whats the answer then? Nobody wants to see familys struggle to buy expensive fair trade clothes but we also don’t want to think that somebody is suffering just so we save a few quid. Would it not be better to abolish uniforms altogether? thats not to say that it would solve the problems in the sweat shops of Bangladesh etc. but it might stop supermarket price wars which force lower and lower prices, which is the main problem. Kids might also gain a bit of individuality aswell.


11 thoughts on “cheap school clothes?

  1. z says:

    Apparently, children are then put under peer-group pressure to have the latest fashions and it causes rows at home because they want new clothes all the time and it’s more expensive in the long run. Myself, I think that’s daft – it’s up to all the parents to say ‘no’, stick to it and ridicule fashion victims. As you suggest, encourage individuality.

    On the other hand, basic school clothes are durable and, even if you get fair trade ones, they are not expensive for the amount of times they are worn. Practical, but really dull.

  2. donna says:

    I have to admit I think school uniform is an easier option in terms of getting them ready and out the door in the morning- no decisions to make or arguments (sorry discussions ha! ha!). we have enough stress sometimes about what they’re going to eat for breakfast.

  3. Not only school uniforms are made this way, unfortunately many more things…
    But abolishing uniforms is not good too, as “z” says it will put children under pressure to have latest clothes… and will cause problems between parents and children because of the cost and different taste… The way it is now all children look equal what is good. The only thing that could change is design, uniforms could be more pretty 🙂

  4. mooominmama says:

    surely the problem is much more complex than just abolishing uniforms, lets face it supermarkets are out to make as much money as possible and by cutting off one supply, they’ll just move on to the next…besides which they already sell all the other cheap clothes that we want, also though the wages are low, at least there is a wage (i’m not suggesting thats ok) but by removing the jobs altogether is that worse?
    its easy to make supermarkets the enemy in this but it is a bit of a chicken and egg, do we crave cheapness cos they have shown us we can have it? or are they just responding to the fact that people basically just want things as cheaply as they can get them?
    however much we hate them (and i do) supermarkets are here to stay (at least for a while) they should really be forced to take a more responsible attitude to their suppliers.
    in an ideal world all people would benefit from legislation to protect them from harmful conditions and perhaps more emphasis should be placed on how to help this come about…not to mention the environmental costs of producing cheap clothes… in short (rant over)i dont know the answer… sorry

  5. dibnah says:

    Thanks for that very honest reply. I agree with most of what you say and I never know the answer either. It’s the same argument I have about packaging should we not buy it or should it be reduced in the first place? Both probably as it seems neither happes without the other.

    Cheapness is another issue I think thats an attitude change I don’t see cheap meat as cheap because for me the cost in ethics is a lot more than the money I might save.

    Anyway too hungover today to argue with any merit and yes it was all fair trade organic alcohol…………honest….

  6. stonehead says:

    Having been to schools with uniforms and schools without (11 schools in all!), I’d go for the uniform schools without fail. The playground hierarchy was bad enough without throwing fashion into the mix – although being able to wear steel-toed boots gave me a huge advantage in dust-ups…

    As for keeping our two boys in uniforms, we have a simple solution. We get all the school wear from the used clothing box at school. It’s always full of almost new clothing because almost no one is brave enough to walk up to it with other parents circling around and have a nose through it.

    I have no shame, however, so I check the box at least once a week, as does a single mum. She and I have a good chuckle about the fact that our kids even wear school uniform outside school because we’ve collected so many good pairs of trousers and shirts. And don’t worry, there’s still plenty for other people – we’re not taking the lot.

  7. Mel Rimmer says:

    It’s a really complicated issue when you look into it. For example, I know of a major chain that decided to stop sourcing its clothes from sweat shops using child labour. So all the child sewing machinists were made unemployed. Some of them starved. Others were lucky enough to get alternative jobs in a factory which dismantled batteries for recycling.

    I’m not supporting child labour, but the issue is more complicated than just banning it. Perhaps the retail chain should have built its own factory which employed the parents of the child labourers and paid them enough to feed their whole families without sending the children out to work. Maybe there’s some unforseen problem with that idea, too. There are no simple answers, but it’s important that we keep trying to find answers anyway.

  8. EFfloresce says:

    I was thinking deeply about this issue the other day. Sat folding the usual mountain of laundry to be sorted for the five people in our family I began glancing at the labels. Most of the clothes our family members wear are made in Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia.

    That is because if I am not buying at charity shops or making our own clothes or have been given clothes by kindly people I am only able to afford to buy ‘new’ at crap places like ‘H+M’ or the equivalent. And to be honest, the only reason why I would fork out for even the low priced tat that is sold in shops is because of a sense of pressure to be somehow ‘with the times’.

    ‘School uniform’ is not really that different to what the average Joe or Josephina Bloggs wears in everyday is a uniform that helps us to feel like we fit somewhere after all.

    I have the perfect solution to crappy cheap school uniforms: don’t send you kids to school, let them develop their own sense of style and maybe learn to dress according to what is suitable for the season, the imagination or the job at hand.

    One of the most lovely lovely tings about our kids being school free (and doing what is called ‘home education’) is that the pressure to dress in a certain way was removed, and we do not get demands for the latest clothing from them. Yeah, they look different to the school kids, but are laughing on the other side of their faces too since they have not learnt to be insecure about their looks either.

    That old chestnut about school uniforms being one way to make everyone equal does ring true..but equal to what I would ask?

    As I sat there thoughtfully folding my piles of mostly tat clothing that some family member across the globe had made for a pittance compared to what we would just get on the dole in our Northern Hemisphere I made a pledge not to pay into the exploitation of the factory workers who are seriouslu underpaid and undervalued and are not encouraged to shift up a ‘class’.

    But if we all stop buying crappy mass produced tat does that mean a load of us are going to starve? I’ve no mind for economics and cannot work out the answer to that one. What did ‘third world countries’ do before the mass production of tat became the sole method of survival?

    one last there a link to somewhere that can explain to me how these people are living (the ones in the factories getting next to nothing for making tat) and what quality of health care they get and how long they are expected to live etc?

    My overall solution is simple, if I am buying something off someone that they have made with their bare hands I do not underpay them – what a cheek that would be! If I am buying a jumper off a middle class housewife who has sat felting it for an age I am not gonna go: “I’ll give you a quid for your time!” am I? Do we offer the workers on the other side of the world less because we don’t relate to them as humans of worth?

    Sorry about long comment, I just lost it …EEEK!

  9. dibnah says:

    thanks for that comment. you raise some important issues.

  10. At my school we had uniforms and my best friends school they didn’t. The kids in the non uniform schools felt pressure to be clothed in all the ‘in gear’ and those who couldn’t afford the right labels were looked down on, sadly. That didn’t happen at our school. I do see your reasoning for abolishing uniforms, but its not quite that easy.

  11. Helen says:

    Hi everyone,

    A good idea especially, say, for EFfloresce, because his/her children don’t need uniforms, is : GET SECOND HAND CLOTHES.

    Others buy the new stuff, but days or months later decide they need new things again, or that what they got wasn’t right. They put them in clothing bins (overflowing) or give them to charity organisations (that have so many things, they sometimes organise give-aways on special dates). You can get lovely, fashionable clothes in good condition for 1 to 5 euros in charity shops.
    Also, if you let it be known that you accept 2nd hand clothes, you’ll find that your friends, sisters, etc, save things they don’t want, and give them to you. This is a form of recycling. The production of cotton, for example, leaves a serious ecological footprint. Buying new fairtrade organic cotton polutes more than using second-hand things, that would otherwise end up in landfills because charities often receive more than they can manage.
    Enjoy your treasure hunting!


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