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NOW CLOSED Talk to M&S about their schoolwear and win one of two £100 M&S giftcards

(213 Posts)
TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 20-Jun-12 09:56:12

As you may have seen, we've been working with M&S over the past few months to find out what Mumsnetters think of a variety of M&S ranges. The next one of these is schoolwear - M&S would like to know whether you do or don't buy their schoolwear for your DC and why, and what's important to you when you're shopping for uniform.

Please note - it doesn't matter whether or not you have ever bought schoolwear from M&S, this is open to all!

We've included a few questions to get you started below but please feel free to add any further comments you have. Everyone who adds their thoughts will be entered into a prize draw to win one of two £100 M&S giftcards.

~ When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.

~ Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?

~ Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?

~ Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw
MNHQ

culturemulcher Tue 26-Jun-12 12:44:02

Would like to second everyone who has pointed out that the skirts are often way too big in the waist. Even if you pull in the elastic, you end up with a huge bunch of material at the back which looks awful and is uncomfortable to wear.

Also M&S times have changed! Could you make your girls' trousers less bootcut / baggy in the leg? I don't want skinny for school, but something less voluminous would be great.

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Tue 26-Jun-12 13:45:03

~ When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.

The main thing is the quality, as it has to stand up to some hard usage and loads of washing. DS is only 4, so he doesn't care about style etc and I tend to buy things a bit big so there's some growing room. If I think things are of equal quality, I buy the less expensive option.

~ Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?

I always buy in store, except for some things that I have to get through the school. I tend to buy things and put them away as I see good ones, rather than doing one big 'school' shop.

~ Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?

I used to get things mainly from John Lewis as it's convenient, but the last lot of trousers I bought there were dreadful, and faded horribly after a few washes. I had to dye them back to the original colour. I'm looking elsewhere now for things and will probably buy from M&S for the next school year (also convenient and I'm hoping the quality will be good).

~ Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?

The stupidest thing DS has to have for school is green socks. These seem pretty hard to come by. A catalogue would be good.

Fillybuster Wed 27-Jun-12 13:57:01

~ When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.

Price, quality and fit are generally the most important factors, but style also counts (a bit - mainly for dd's uniform, rather than ds').

My ds is tall but very very skinny, so I have to buy trousers with an adjustable waistband. Most retailers seem to stop making these above age 5/6, so this also informs my choice.

Finally, I want to know that an item of clothing is going to last!

~ Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?

I mostly start in-store, so I can have a proper look at the items, and work out which styles I like etc. It can be quite hard to tell from a website. But I will re-order specific items from a website, especially if there is a free or low-cost delivery option.

~ Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?

I tend to buy school trousers from Tesco (they last longest, they have adjustable waists and are only £3/pair); school skirts from Asda (they had a lovely skater-style last year) and John Lewis (old fashioned pleats); shirts from John Lewis or Next; socks from Tesco or M&S; summer dresses from Tesco; tracksuit trousers from Tesco. Winter coats from Marks and Spencers. Everything else is branded and has to come from the specialist rip off merchants suppliers.

I have bought M&S school trousers and skirts in the past, and watched as the hems and fabric disintegrated within a few weeks. Knees gave way on trousers, hems on both, and the quality was generally very poor. I do like the boys' school coat selection and these have been pretty good so far; the girls coats last year were a bit shapeless and seemed very expensive (and insufficiently waterproof!).

~ Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?

My biggest problem with M&S schoolwear is the utter chaos on the shop floor. From early August, it is impossible to find anything, as all the clothes are completely jumbled up, and there are never any shopfloor assistants around to help. If I do find something I want, in the correct size, then I won't be able to find a second or a third packet.....and if you do find an employee, they just shrug and suggest you look some more hmm. At the moment, there's not much point in producing a catalogue if customers can't find anything they want in store. Pretty much all the mums I know (in NW London, so it's mostly the Brent X store, in case someone from M&S is reading this and wants to do some trouble-shooting!) feel the same way, and everyone avoids M&S at school uniform time.

And then there's the minor matter of the 2 hour long queues once you do find something you want to buy. So mainly this is a staffing/training issue....but John Lewis, Next and Tesco all seem to be able to keep control of stock and display better than M&S.

prettybird Wed 27-Jun-12 17:13:58

When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can

Fit first, then quality, then price (the latter two within reason and varies according to the item). Although often it was a case of, having bought the logo-ed sweatshirts and poloshirts direct from the school, I'd then buy the trousers, plimsoles, shoes and socks wherever I could find the right size! I don't like buying too far in advance in case he has a growth spurt.

Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?

Tend to buy in-store as sizes/fit can vary so much between stores - and even between different styles. I want to be able to see the item so that I can judge whether it will fit and whether I like the quality. I also only tend to buy when I need something, so don't want to wait for delivery.

Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?

Have bought from Sainsbury's, BHS, Tesco and M&S. It's usually whereever I can find the item required in the size required. For example, I tired recently to buy some white long sleeved button-to-the-neck shirts (uncharateristically trying to get organised in advance of ds going to secondary school in August) and Sainsbury's didn't have any hmm. I'll be making a trip shortly to M&S to see what they have (I'll only initially buy 2 or 3 shirts - depending on the deal - and will buy the remainder up to 5 closer to the beginning of the new school year). I'm wary of the M&S trousers as last time I got them they were far too big at the waist and MIL had to adjust them (seems to be a common problem, looking at the thread). The Sainsbury's ones he has at the moment fitted ok. The plimsole (and shoe sizing in general) is also absurdly generous.

I recently bought a multi-pack of black "school" socks for ds from M&S. On the first day, there was a hole in one of the socks - but for such a small item, I can't be bothered going back to the shop. angry

Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?

Schoolwear catalogue (on-line and in-store) would probably be useful - so that I wouldn't have to do what I did at Sainsbury's a week ago, wandering around to try and find if they even stocked long-sleeved shirts. The fact that basic items are often split between "boys" and "girls" can also make things irritating when you are trying to find things. I'm also now going to be looking for basics like V-neck black jumpers, which I would want to be hard wearing. Black quality sports shorts also seem to be difficult to find.

AuntySib Thu 28-Jun-12 10:25:50

~ When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.
The most important factors to me are fit/style (my son is tall and chunky) and fabric ( he has ezcema which is exacerbated by heat, so synthetic fabrics are not good.). Have just ordered the cotton school trousers online and will collect tomorrow.

~ Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?
I would prefer to buy instore so that we can try on various sizes and styles, but this is difficult due to very limited availablity of cotton trousers. i have arranged to collect instore so that he can try on 2 different sizes and we can return the least suitable size on the spot. I wthen plan to order more of the correct size and will do that online to be delivered at home. I have looked online at a number of retailers for cotton trousers, but there are very few - last year M&S had nno cotton trousers, so i ordred from Tesco, but this year, Tesco ( who Itried first didn't do black cotton trousers in teenage sizes, but M & S did.
Delivery options not so important - it would be the last factor I'd look at given the difficulties of finding the right trousers.

~ Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?
I have bought M&S schoolwear before for my other children, and did not think it performed particularly well given that it is more expensive than Tesco and George. The price was not reflected in the fabric, which I wouldn't want to wear myself. However, M&S has an excellent range of sizes and styles at our local store ( Brent Cross), much better than competitors, and my sons couldn't really see the difference between M&S and other brands.

~ Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?
I would like to see cotton schoolwear available in a wider range of styles ) the trousers currently available look very slim cut, although we haven't seen them in person yet. A comprehensive catalogue would be a good idea - personally I orefer to look at a paper catalogue rahter than online.

medjool Thu 28-Jun-12 12:55:32

When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.

Being able to see the item in store - not possible at my local M&S which only reserves a small area for uniform and has little range and stock.
Price
Quality- I won't be buying polo shirts or cardigans at M&S for September as I found this school year that they shrink terribly, regardless of whether they are tumble dried (which the label says they can be) or not.
Fit and room for growth without coming up too big - a tricky one with summer dresses as different designs had a completely different fit in the same size. One was perfect, the other was massive.
Ease for DD to get it on and off for PE - e.g. zip up school dresses

Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?
My local store has terrible stock problems so I am forced to buy online and return items which don't fit which is frustrating. This is why I might go elsewhere this year.

Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try

Previously M&S. Items don't wear well though and I don't forsee myself saving most of DD1s uniform for DD2, so works out relatively expensive.
This year I will probably look to try other ranges first e.g. Next, Tu at Sainsbury's or George at Asda.

Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?
Better stock (Brent Cross and online). Better availability throughout the year, expecially for school coats which sell out before the weather even gets cold.
Better fit - same size items across ranges as mentioned above - a standard size like adult clothes.
Better quality fabrics which don't shrink or better wash testing so that washing labels can have more accurate instructions.

thecheekofhim Thu 28-Jun-12 15:50:29

~ When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.
Looking for best price on stuff that will last the year. If it will last it's fine otherwise not interested.

~ Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?
In store.

~ Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?
Buy mostly M&S on promotion

~ Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?
Keep stock throughout the year

naturalbaby Thu 28-Jun-12 16:52:30

~ Price, quality, style and fit are all equally important! I have a set price in mind for each item and check the quality or choose M&S for known quality. I choose classic, simple styles - and have boys so there's not a huge range anyway. For main items like shirts and shorts I choose higher quality clothes.

~ I look at the school's recommended items then go to a couple of supermarkets and department stores to find cheaper alternatives. If I find what I need in store then I get it there, what ever is left that I'm not happy about or can't find I then buy online. I choose M&S for free store delivery to save money.

~ I only buy essential items from the school's recommended retailer - items with the school logo/badge. I bought most of the other items I needed from M&S last year. I was very disappointed that 2 pairs of sports jogging bottoms I bought from M&S wore through the knee after 1 term, until then I was very pleased with the price and fit. I was very impressed that I got a full refund though.
I have been very impressed with the style and price of the black sports plimsolls, and the option to have velcro or elastic.

~ The only things I can't find at M&S are the school specific items. I struggle to find good fitting longer length shorts for younger boys and adjustable waists for my skinny boys! I don't mind no schoolwear catalogue because I could shop easily on the website and look in store.

MrsS3 Sun 01-Jul-12 23:09:36

one afterthought from me. My mother reminded me (of course, only mothers) that last year our biggest issue with M&S was trying to get a faulty item exchanged. We bought the two-pair packs of school trousers for the boys. Elder boy stuff fine, younger boy had one good pair and one with a badly sewn seam resulting in an un-sewn part of the trouser leg. So back we went. This was the first week in September, and we got shocked faces, looking askance "we don't have uniform, not now!". They wouldn't change it. We had bag, receipt, the other pair of trousers in the set, unworn.... not good at customer service imho. Usually, though, I must point out that the clothing is good quality, lasts until outgrown and it hasn't stopped me from going back to get DS1's high school stuff there this week. Generally the positives outweigh. Some plans to stock uniform or a better ordering-in service in store would be good. The uniform "season" is way, way longer than the months of July and August (my children need it all year round, don't others?)

steppemum Mon 02-Jul-12 23:22:48

I posted earlier, but on Sunday we went (inspired by this thread!) to M&S to buy skirts and trousers. Was impressed that girls stuff did had pockets, and there were really nice culottes. Was very unimpressed that the size selection was awful. Found a pair she liked, didn't have it in her size same with every pair. Same with socks, no smaller sizes left. All blue edged ones (which were so pretty) gone except one large set. This is only July, so to be so short on sizes now is pretty poor.

In the end we did get 3 things that she and I both liked and fitted!

Then we looked at the price, boys trousers £9 for TWO. Girls £9 for ONE skirt, and £11 for the other. Why? Nearly took them all back and went to Asdas, but I know how hard it is to find things for dd, so we bought them as there was 20% off.
Will post in October to see how long they last.!!

Doogle2 Wed 04-Jul-12 20:18:08

I would buy boys trousers that have reinforced knee fabric as I am fed up of holes appearing due to falling over incidents!!!

racingheart Wed 04-Jul-12 20:52:13

~ When you're buying school uniform in general for your DC, what are the most important factors to you? Is it price, quality, style, fit or something else? M&S would like to understand how you decide whether or not to buy an item of school uniform so please provide as much detail as you can.

Fit is important and so is how well it washes and lasts. My DC like M&S non iron shirts as they are very soft and smooth (though they do need ironing!) They hate the feel of polo shirt fabric. Prices tend to be similar for similar quality between M&S and BHS or other main stores, so I don't really judge on price, but do make use of 20% off or 3 for 2 offers.

~ Do you tend to shop for schoolwear exclusively in store, exclusively online, or a mix of the two? Are there specific things that you buy online and others that you would only ever consider buying in store? How important are factors such as delivery options, the in store/online experience etc to you?

I shop for other things online but rarely school clothes. Usually because the DC grow so fast I need to see by eye whether something will fit. They can move up two sizes in a term if they have a growth spurt.

~ Which retailer(s) do you usually buy schoolwear from and why? If you have bought school uniform from M&S recently, how did you find it? Did the item(s) last well or not? If you haven't bought M&S school uniform before, why is that? What would make you give M&S school uniform a try?

I buy from M&S and BHS mainly, in store. I start at M&S but our local store (Kingston) is notoriously badly stocked and doesn't always have the right size in. Then I try BHS which usually does. But M&S shirts are far better quality. Trousers are the same or BHS has the edge. M&S school trouser fabrics and quality seem to vary hugely. Sometimes they are thin and cheap and other times very well made. It's hit and miss what's on offer in our local store.

~ Is there anything that you think M&S could do to improve their schoolwear range? Are there any items that they don't currently stock that you'd like to see added to the range? Would you appreciate a schoolwear catalogue available either online or in store?

Yes, please. Could you supply socks that don't shrink by 75% when put in the tumble dryer? Busy mums use tumble driers for everything. Even the largest sizes are baby sized after a couple of washes. If Gap can do it, so can M&S.
School catalogue would be good idea.

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 05-Jul-12 16:26:11

Thanks to everyone who added their thoughts to this thread - M&S have found your feedback really useful.

I'm pleased to announce that the winners of the prize draw are:

cantdothisagain
and
goingdownhill

Congratulations - you've both won a £100 M&S giftcard! I'll PM you to get your details

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