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Pre-loved school uniforms go digital to beat the cost-of-living crisis

A project to re-use school uniform, that grew out of the Fair-Trade movement in Brighton & Hove, has gone digital.

When Smarter Uniforms set up in 2017, they didn’t anticipate how much demand there would be for their pre-loved items.

The project works on two levels because re-using school uniform is great for the environment and since Covid, over 12,000 items of clothing have been saved from landfill and been re-used instead.

It’s also of huge benefit to parents who are struggling to afford a whole new school wardrobe for their children as term starts. Hundreds of families are now using the service which is not surprising given the cost of a new secondary school uniform is around £422, according to The Children’s Society.

Before Covid hit, the project had more to face-to face dealings with parents but the pandemic, followed by the huge need created by the cost-of-living crisis, made it harder for the small team of volunteers to match uniforms with the volume of offers and requests.

It also became clear that Smarter Uniforms needed to be a year-round service with a robust pool of uniform always available because of the speed with which children can outgrow their clothes.

Smarter Uniforms has developed a market place where parents can trade online and a handy video to explain how it all works – in short, all parents need to do is ‘Wash it – Fold it – Snap it – Upload it – Sell it.’

Branded secondary school uniform is in greatest demand, but most donations tend to be unbranded, so the project is encouraging more families to get involved, even if they don’t want to buy second-hand items themselves.

Siobhan Wilson from Smarter Uniforms said:

“People like the financial savings and they hate waste and want something to do with old school uniform. If families don’t want to buy second hand uniforms, there’s a huge amount they can do to help the community by uploading and selling unwanted uniforms to families who really do need them.”

You can get in touch with the project at

Photo: Mary Taylor on Pexels