The new school year can cause a lot of stress in households across the country.
From the cost of uniform, to organising packed lunches and who will pick up and take the kids to class, there’s quite a lot to think about.
But Doris Russell’s biggest problem is whether her son Charlie, 10, will consider his clothes fashionable enough to wear in front of his mates.
Doris, 39, a foster carer and mum of two, has spent almost £2,000 on designer gear for the new academic year including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
The mum, from Wimborne in Dorset, told The Sun: ‘During lockdown, Charlie spent every day wearing designer gear and getting him out of it has been harder than ever.
‘He won’t wear approved shorts for PE and only likes Adidas ones that are £34.99 each. And he wears £20 Nike T-shirts instead of cheaper ones the other kids wear.
‘He wanted specialist Nike trainers for PE costing £70, as well as Nike football boots. We go through a few pairs a year.
‘Even his socks cost a lot. He wears Adidas for PE and black Calvin Klein ones for uniform days, costing £40. I’m currently searching for a new backpack, Nike or Adidas.
‘I’m lucky my other son likes Primark and doesn’t care what he wears. It’s a huge relief.’
Aldi offers a full uniform package for just £4.50, and Asda sells polo shirts for around £1.25.
But for Charlie, who has modelled for Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger and Zara, cheap supermarket clothes off the rack just will not do.
Doris’s most expensive buys were a Tommy Hilfiger coat for £120, and Nike Airforce 1 black school shoes for another £120.
White school shirts and black trousers were £60 apiece.
Nike Phantom football boots cost £60 – and he apparently gets through several pairs a year – with his Calvin Klein underwear £80.
He refuses to wear regular PE kit, and will only wear brands like Nike and Adidas.
But Doris, also mum to six-year-old Freddie, said his clothes are a ‘reward for his hard work’.
‘He’s not spoilt — he’s well-mannered, hardworking and happens to love designer dressing,’ she said.
‘Ever since he was a toddler, he has always wanted to look good. It’s a fight for me to get time in front of the mirror sometimes!
‘I’ve spent thousands, not just on uniform but also on a mobile phone, computers and clothes to wear to after-school parties.
‘He developed his love of designer gear as he has been modelling since the age of five. He gets a lot of clothes gifted to him by designers he does catwalk shows for, so he got obsessed.
‘He competes against other boys in pageants. He’s a pageant king and appears in TV commercials. We’re filming one for a building society this weekend.’
She saves up for his clothes and treats him at cost to herself, and hasn’t cut her hair for a year.
‘I can’t remember the last time I bought a new outfit for myself,’ she added.
Doris makes £25,000 a year as a foster carer, while her husband Daniel, 41, is a border force officer earning around £30,000.
But this extravagant spending may shock parents struggling to afford the basics.
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Psychologist Jo Hemmings warned: ‘When mums buy designer kit for their children to wear at school, they may feel their kids deserve “the best” and they are helping their children achieve more.
‘Or they may want to show their own financial achievements. If they can afford expensive stuff, it illustrates how successful they have been.
‘Given a key point of school uniform is to level out wealth differences, it upsets that equilibrium – and may well distort their opinions of kids who are not so extravagantly kitted out.’
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