When you’re focused on coaching your teams to lead the field, the last thing you want is to get bogged down in the minutiae of their kit. Of course, you want your school teams to look like they mean business. You want kit that creates a sense of pride and team spirit, while reinforcing the school’s brand identity.

You don’t want to be dealing with fabric samples, sizing issues and stock availability as they will be an unnecessary distraction from what matters most – your teams’ performance. So if you, or your school, are looking for new sportswear for one or all of your teams, here are the five essential steps to take when choosing a supplier:

 1. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR SUPPLIER’S KNOWLEDGE

A good supplier will support you every step of the way while you work through the selection process. The choice of fabrics, an understanding of manufacturing processes and the ability to deliver the necessary supply chain options are all essential to guide your decisions. Fabrics available should include features such as wicking, breathability and easy-care properties, to help your teams perform to their full potential.

 Look for a free consultative design service, complete with storyboards and CAD layouts, making it easy for you to visualise the end result.

2. INSIST ON GARMENT SAMPLES

Once you have chosen your favoured design and fabrics, ask for a full set of garment samples for trial testing, free of charge. We advise schools to wash and wear the garments to ensure they are fit for the demands of everyday life. It just isn’t possible to judge the real quality of what you’re buying from looking at images online or on paper.

3. CHECK THE TURNAROUND TIME

Normally you will have a deadline for delivery of the new kit. Make sure the supplier is committed to helping you with the design, providing samples and delivering the finished items on time. Check that prospective suppliers have dealt with schools of your calibre and standards and ask them to provide references.

4. AGREE SERVICE STANDARDS AND STOCK AVAILABILITY

Ask prospective suppliers to demonstrate their service level agreement performance. Outstanding service is key to successful school/supplier partnerships, so make sure they can substantiate the service they deliver to other customers. Ensure your prospective supplier is financially sound. They need to have the resources to hold sufficient stock of your sportswear all year, otherwise it will cause disruption to both schools and parents. You don’t want to be worrying about whether the kit will be available in time for the next fixture. If in doubt, ask to see the supplier’s accounts.

5. COMPARE LIKE-WITH-LIKE WHEN EVALUATING PRICES

Weigh up the whole package (fabric, country of manufacture, quality, stock levels, turnaround time and service all affect cost) when making decisions, rather than simply the garment prices in isolation. Focusing purely on product prices can often end up driving down the quality of the overall package of product and services and can result in unnecessary stress, disappointment and additional time wasted.

How it should work

Here’s a couple of examples of how the process should work.

Reading Blue Coat School experienced this service at first-hand when it called on us to update its core kit, keeping the existing design, but improving fabric quality and alleviating the supply issues it had been experiencing.

"When putting together our staff kit and teamwear range, Stevensons gave us the extra care and personal attention to detail needed in order to ensure that the precise needs of our School were met" - Phil Wise, Deputy Head at Reading Blue Coat School

Elsewhere, we came to the rescue of Mount Kelly School when it merged with a local prep school and urgently needed a complete overhaul of all its sportswear, from prep to senior school.

We proposed an exciting design that complemented the school’s new branding and we assigned a dedicated account manager to work closely with the school, to make the whole process hassle-free.

Our ability to respond quickly enabled us to supply the school with final garments, which greatly helped them in deciding which design to choose. Stevensons’ exemplary service freed Mount Kelly School to focus on other important matters involved in the integration of two schools.

The school was so impressed by the quality of service experienced with its core kit that it later commissioned us to redesign the kit for its rugby, hockey, netball and swimming teams.

As Mount Kelly School discovered, strong teamwork is at the heart of any successful relationship.

With our expertise, decades of experience and collaborative approach, you’re free to focus on performance with in the knowledge that your school sportswear is in safe hands.

To find out more about Stevensons’ school sportswear service and our Performance Sportswear sub-brand XXV, download a brochure:

Stevensons Sportswear brand - XXV

If you would like to discuss your potential requirements: