Switch would solve a lot of school uniform-related problems, but not everyone thinks it’s a great idea.

Among the things the staff of Saitama City’s Omiya Kita High School discussed with parents at its last orientation session was the school’s uniform policy. That’s pretty standard for Japan, since parents want to know what their kids will have to wear and where they can purchase it.

And for the 2022 school year, they just might be able to purchase their uniforms at Uniqlo.

As iconic as they may be, Japanese school uniforms come with some serious downsides, and the biggest one is how much they cost. Price-wise, buying a teenager’s school uniform is similar to buying a business suit, and up until now parents of Omiya Kita students have been dropping around 40,000 to 60,000 yen (roughly US$370 to US$550)for their kids’ uniforms, which consist of a black gakuran jacket and slacks for boys and a blazer and skirt for girls. “We started wondering if there wasn’t a way to move away from the assumption that uniforms have to cost so much,” vice-principal Kenji Tsutsui says, and now the school in considering letting students put together their school uniforms with items from Uniqlo.

▼ Omiya Kita’s current uniforms (left) and some of their proposed Uniqlo-sourced replacements (right)

While Uniqlo is best known for their casual fashions, they also carry dressier items like blazers and dress shirts, which are still affordably priced. The ensembles Omiya Kita is considering would allow students to put together a uniform for about 10,000 yen, a much smaller hit to the wallet than the current uniforms.

Another potential plus: the current 100-percent wool uniforms have to be dry cleaned, and the time and expense involved means that uniforms can go weeks, or even months, without being cleaned. Uniqlo’s lighter fabrics and more washing machine-friendly, and probably also much more comfortable to wear during a hot, humid Japanese summer.

Omiya Kita is even mulling the open-minded idea of giving students some leeway in the exact colors they choose for their uniform components on a day-by-day basis.

Reactions to the proposal, though, have been mixed on Twitter, with comments ranging from:

“Affordable uniforms that you can wash? I’m jealous.”
“When I was in school, I hated how hot my uniform was in summer, and how I couldn’t wash it when it got dirty or smelly.”
“Aren’t those Uniqlo outfits they put together kind of lame-looking?”
“I understand parents think regular uniforms are too expensive, but what about the kids who want to wear cute uniforms?”
“Uniforms are also a security measure. If the uniforms are made up with commercially available items from Uniqlo, how will the school be able to spot an intruder?”
“The only people complaining about this idea are people who aren’t students at the school or parents.”
“I bet Workman will start making school uniforms next.”

Omiya Kita says it will be leaving the ultimate decision of whether or not to switch over to Uniqlo uniforms up to the parents and students, but if that decision is reached, the new outfits would become the dress code starting with the new academic year in April.

Source: Saitama Shinbun via Yahoo! Japan News via Golden Times, Twitter
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