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With schools now recognising the potential of quality sportswear to create a sense of pride and build their brand image, this year we will see five key developments in school sportswear:

1_STREAMLINED KIT Mindful of parents’ pockets, schools are rationalising the number of items in their core sports kit. This is made possible by choosing versatile garments that can be used for multiple sports in summer and winter alike. Abingdon School, an independent boys’ school in Oxfordshire, traditionally specified five different tops for sports such as hockey, football and badminton, but uniform and sportswear supplier Stevensons has developed a new multipurpose top for them that will now be used for a variety of sports.

This trend for fewer items is reflected in the growing popularity of single-skin fully reversible shirts that are not only lighter, quick drying, stylish and more comfortable to wear than their predecessors, but also allow a school to have different kits for home and away fixtures as well as eliminating the need for bibs.


A PREMIUM FOR A BRAND Thankfully, the fad of emblazoning big brand logos on every item of clothing seems to be waning as schools focus instead on product quality. This trend is gaining increasing impetus as schools become more marketing savvy and recognise it is their school’s logo that should stand out, not that of the manufacturer. For this reason, Stevensons’ own MCMXXV (1925) range, created in response to demand for bespoke school sportswear in the latest technical fabrics, features extremely subtle branding, allowing the school’s own branding to shine.


IMPROVED SUPPLY Increasingly, schools want their sportswear to be available year-round. Stevensons understands the importance of keeping parents happy, and while many of its competitors sell on a made-to-order basis, Stevensons carries heavy stock year-round, meaning that here are no ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ order windows. For tour and team kits, Stevensons can


James Benning picks out the top trends in school sportswear for 2014

shelf schoolwear colours; the new limes, teals, jades and corals are very much in demand today. Anything and everything can now be colour matched to a school’s pantone specification.

ABOVE: Abingdon School's striking black and cerise colourway

supply whatever item a school needs in just four weeks, which is less than half that of traditional sportswear suppliers.

4_DISTINCTIVE DESIGNS Schools are becoming increasingly adventurous in their desire to stand out on the sports field. Abingdon School is a prime example with its striking black and cerise colourway, giving its sports teams a highly distinctive appearance. Gone are the days of the standard palette of off-the-

5_HARNESSING INNOVATION Schools are likely to take advantage of the latest product developments as they update their kit. School sportswear has come a long way, and advances in technical fabrics mean today’s pupils should not only look good but feel good too. There has been a shift away from the traditional school tracksuit to waterproof rain jacket styles (probably just as well given the UK climate). Meanwhile, new wicking fabrics allow jerseys to stay dry in the worst conditions – as well as making garments easycare for busy parents. This highlights another benefit of opting for bespoke sportswear as the fabric can be updated without changing the design, saving schools the headache and parents the extra cost. iE

Ex-professional cricketer James Benning is sportswear expert for leading school uniform and sportswear supplier Stevensons T: 01727 815722 W:

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