Schoolwear opinion: Joanne Woods
Schoolwear retailers discuss the issue of larger size schoolwear.
By Laura Turner
21 February 2012
Image: Joanne Woods, owner, Jada, Chorley, Lancashire
Laura Turner: How much demand is there for plus-size school uniforms?
Joanne Woods: This past year in particular has seen a huge increase in the demand for uniforms in bigger sizes. We offer plus sizes in all of our product ranges, as high up as the manufacturers will go. I would say we sell around three or four blazers per year in the largest sizes, such as a 52 inch chest, and maybe 10 per year of the larger sizes, such as a 44 inch chest.
LT: Is demand for plus-size schoolwear more prevalent for boys or girls?
JW: Definitely boys. Up until recently, our main waist sizes for boys’ trousers were 28 inch, 30 inch and 32 inch. Last year, however, we found there was a lot more demand for 32 inch, 34 inch and 36 inch waists. With girls, conversely, the demand for 22 inch waists has increased to the extent that we could not keep up with it – it really is quite a small size.
LT: Do you feel suppliers are responding to demand for plus-size schoolwear?
JW: Blue Max Banner, who we mostly deal with, has started offering sizes up to a 50 inch waist in boys’ trousers, whereas they used to go up to a 42 inch, so they are doing their research and responding to changing demands. Most suppliers also have a very good stock system that we rely on.
Looking at what sizes you sold last year provides no guarantee they will be similar this year, so this is vital. It’s also essential when there are so many waist and leg size combinations available, particularly when parents shop right up until the night before their children are due back to school.
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