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Asia Minute: School Uniforms by Armani?

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Presidents’ Day is a holiday for many people—including Hawai‘i’s public school students. One issue that public school students here don’t have to worry about is school uniforms. But in Japan, that’s a different story. And for one school, it’s a story that’s drawn international attention. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

School uniforms are a pretty common sight in Japan. They’re a standard part of education for both private and public schools.

But an elementary school in Tokyo’s fashionable Ginza neighborhood has attracted national scorn and global attention because of a change in its uniform policy.

The change is a move to Armani.

Yes, designer uniforms for elementary school students—public school students at a cost of more than 700 dollars for a full set. That’s about triple what the current uniform costs.

Credit MIKI Yoshihito / Flickr
Giorgio Armani boutique in Ginza

The school’s principal still thinks this is a good idea despite widespread criticism and more than a little bit of mocking. The head of Taimei Elementary School told a news conference this month that Armani uniforms would mark the institution as “a school of Ginza.” Adding that he chose the designer because it has a boutique close to the school.

Japan’s Education Minister weighed in on the issue—suggesting that parents be involved in discussions or consultations before such decisions are made. The Education Minister said “Schools should be mindful of uniform prices so that parents won’t be overburdened.”

The new uniforms are set to start in April – although they are just “recommended” and not required.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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