A local elementary school in Tokyo's Ginza neighborhood went to an unlikely source, Armani, when they needed new school uniforms. Despite Ginza's reputation for being the most fashion-forward neighborhood in Tokyo, parents are not happy with the $730 price tag.
The new Taimei Elementary School uniforms, which can be seen on the AP, cost more than 80,000 yen for a full set. A minimum set includes a navy blue jacket with a matching skirt or pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a hat. These uniforms are more than twice the price of current uniforms, in a country where parents already feel the sting of pricey school fees. On Friday, the principal of the school, Toshitsugu Wada, said in a news conference that Armani was the brand of choice because of the boutique near the school. He also said the brand fits the school's identity as “a school of Ginza.” Taimei is a state-funded school.
The school uniforms, which are set to launch in April, are technically not mandatory but are recommended. Naoki Ogi, a popular education commentator also known as Ogi-Mama, wrote of this decision on his blog. He said, "It’s like saying no to poor people and welcoming only those who take pride in Armani."
The decision resulted in a backlash and on Thursday, opposition lawmaker Manabu Terada brought the decision up during a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee in Japan's Diet. Terada mentioned that these uniforms are more expensive than business attire for many adults. Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, "Schools should be mindful of uniform prices so that parents won’t be overburdened. We also expect them to have sufficient discussions in the process with involved parties." When asked if the new Armani uniforms could be scrapped by the education board, Wada said the old uniform is no longer produced.
The school decided that new uniforms were needed last summer. In November, parents received a letter announcing that the uniforms were going to be designed by Armani. On Friday, government officials said that while school principals have the freedom to choose school uniforms and rules, Taimei should have put forth an effort to reach consensus with parents.