A public school in Tokyo is introducing Giorgio Armani uniforms

'Why Armani?': Parents question pricey uniforms at public school in Tokyo's Ginza district

Japanese school angers parents with £500 Armani uniform

While the school says the new uniforms are not mandatory, critics said parents would feel compelled to buy them to ensure their children were not left out.

Taimei Elementary School, in Ginza, one of Tokyo's most expensive and traditional districts, provides free education in common with all Japan's public (state-funded) elementary schools, which 99 per cent of Japanese children attend.

Taimei Elementary School, operated by Chuo Ward, plans to introduce the new standard school wear, virtually treated as a uniform, from the next school year starting in April.

Parents of students criticised the plan, explaining that it was too expensive for their children to wear uniforms which are priced at over 80,000 yen ($730, £500) each and include a hat and a bag.

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'Why Armani?' asked another parent, according to the local education board.

Another parent grumbled that his own suits were far less pricey than the pupils' uniforms. That's not to mention the fact that school uniforms are technically considered optional in Japan.

Though the new uniform is not compulsory, it could create embarrassment for students whose families can't afford it, some commentators said. "I was surprised and wondered why such luxury uniforms have been picked for a public elementary school", a woman told the Huffington Post.

The principal also said he sounded out other brands such as Burberry, Chanel and Hermes about producing its school uniform.

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On Thursday, opposition lawmaker Manabu Terada raised the issue at a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee in Japan's Diet, noting that the uniform was more expensive than some business suits for adults.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference on Friday: "It is important to avoid increasing the [financial] burden on guardians".

Author Toson Shimazaki is among the noteworthy people to have attended Taimei Elementary School, which was founded in 1878.

The school sent a letter to parents last November in which the principal explained that the school was changing its uniform to better reflect its status as a "landmark" in Ginza, according to the Huffington Post Japan. "We also expect them to have sufficient discussions in the process with involved parties" including students, parents or parent-teacher associations. "I chose to change the standard uniform to Armani in the hope of creating an awareness of being a Ginza school", the notice.

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