Irina Nikiforova, “There should be the only standard for the school uniform – the standard of quality”
Peremena®, a company making school uniform, celebrated its 20th anniversary. This is a serious period, behind which there’s a lot of job and recognition of schoolchildren, who are the main customers. Irina Nikiforova, the head of the Peremena® Factory, tells about the results reached by the company.
Irina, we can congratulate you not only on the anniversary date, but also on the fact that the sales of your company’s products are done in the territory from Kamchatka to Kaliningrad. What is the secret of your success?
“Yes, 20 years ago we started as a Moscow company sewing uniform for several schools. Today, we have contracts with more than 500 schools all around the territory of our country. Orders continue to grow, and, of course, we are very glad about this!
“What is the secret of our success? First and foremost, it is a carefully selected product range: from the very start we made four collections according to the main colors which are most favored by schools: blue, burgundy, grey and green. And it worked: year after year we receive stable orders for all the four collections, and they have been very well thought out by now. We change small details, and the main design remains unchanged.
“There are several issues which became the basic ones in our work: we have always used only domestic fabrics and only domestic production. We sell only in Russia. Every single ruble received goes to the development of our production facilities. Our products have all necessary characteristics and correspond to all requirements to the school uniform and to the clothes for children from both the customers and the market professionals: teachers, technologists, children's physiologists, psychologists, and doctors. All the goods which are on sale in our brand shops or under our brand name Peremena® (and all the fabrics they are produced of) are certified by the state entities and correspond to the State Standard of the Russian Federation (GOST).”
What does the standard school uniform set consist of?
“The uniform set is formed under no strict rules; each school can choose their own variant. At present we produce more than sixty articles of blouses and shirts, sweaters and cardigans, skirts and trousers for boys and girls, of roll-neck sweaters, tunics, universal vests, and elegant jackets. Our school uniform is very easy to care of because we use half-woolen cloth appreciated by parents and children. It can be machine washed; the cloth is wrinkle-resistant. The cloth is soft to the body and comfortable, and it has a very important characteristic: a good value for money. Recently, we’ve been using cotton more often. It is because at schools, especially in Siberia, Yakutia, there is a very intensive heating, no matter how strange it may seem, the heating is much stronger than in the European part of our country.”
What are the advantages of your products, in your opinion?
“Firstly, we use only natural materials. Secondly, the knitted sweaters, vests and jackets which we manufacture have undisputable advantages compared to traditional woven jackets: they are easier to fit and to care and, the main thing, they are much more comfortable. Thirdly, our products “grow up” together with the child: all the trousers and skirts for little children have elastic bands in the waist, the trouser legs are not sewed in the bottom part (but the sewing band is attached), and the skirts are made with wrap. Fourthly, our products can be well combined with items from other manufacturers’ collections.”
What changes have become the most noticeable in the school uniform over these 20 years? And, are the uniform standards necessary?
“The main changes have touched the size range. About three years ago we made significant changes in the size chart according to the anthropometrical data of modern children; we started to produce the items of bigger sizes. As regards the unified standard for school uniform, we have discussed this issue, and we came to conclusion that the unified standard is not necessary. Today’s school children have got accustomed to variety. And all the producers of the school uniform have found their own market niche and their own customers. The majority of schools who use school uniform want to differ from their neighbors; all are looking for their unique design and color. Since all the producers are different, they all have different design, materials and, what is very important, different price category. If an iron hand establishes a unified standard, producers will be deprived of the stimulus, there’ll be no competition and no creativity, and there will be no tendency to improve quality.
“There should be only one standard: the standard of quality. And at present RosStandard and RosControl are making a lot of efforts in this direction; every year they review their requirements and make them stricter. And manufacturers should correspond to these requirements. There have appeared a lot of manufacturers of school uniform, the competitive environment has changed. Though, we have our feet on the ground. We have regular customers; the territory of our sales embraces large regions: Voronezh and Samara Regions, plus several regions of Siberia. They are not going to leave us, they are happy with our attractive contract terms. The end users also have got accustomed to certain conditions; they are not willing to change school uniform, which have been tested by years of experience. On average, our uniform is worn for 2-3 years, and after that it is passed over to the younger generation – let us agree that it is a very serious positive argument.”
An anniversary means summarizing results, and also making plans for the future. How do you see your future development?
“Today, we are actively developing online sales. We are looking for new ways of promotion. Currently there’s an active discussion: on the one hand, schools now are forced to introduce school uniform; on the other hand, in many regions it is prohibited to establish direct links between manufacturers and schools. Thus we have only one way: to make the Internet promotion and contacting parents in the social media and our brand shops. Today, one can buy our school uniform in 12 Peremena® brand shops in Moscow, and in the nearest future we’ll be actively developing our online shop sales.”