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Graduation clothing – past, present and future

Graduation clothing – past, present and future

11/03/2021

Becky Attwood

The cap and gown have been synonymous with university graduation ceremonies since the 12th and 13th centuries. Over the years they have developed and adapted with the times, changed colours and had school or college crests embroidered on to them.

The general look of academic regalia is timeless, and the cap and gown tradition will always remain an important part of a student’s academic experience.

However, in the past few decades, a new type of graduation apparel has become popular and now a must-have item for every student, and Campus Clothing has been at the forefront of its introduction. The personalised hoodie.

The graduation hoodie

In 1992, Campus Clothing’s founder Rupert Forsythe, produced the first batch of University t-shirts while he was a student at Birmingham University to be sold at the year above him graduation. They were an instant hit and the following year Rupert did the same for his own graduating cohort.

By 1994, Rupert was selling graduation t-shirts at Hull University, the first client of Campus Clothing. As their popularity grew, Rupert introduced more apparel including hoodies, and by the early 2000s, Campus Clothing was providing graduation apparel to Universities up and down the UK. Today, we are the official supplier of graduation clothing to 90+ of the UK’s higher education institutions.

The clothing has always been personalised with student names, but as printing technology developed, Campus was able to include different types of personalisation including highlighting names, printing names on sleeves and even having a name printed on the back of the graduation bear.

Daniel Simmonds became Director of Campus Clothing in 2016 after Rupert moved on to found another company, Stageclip. He said: “The cap and gown are, without question, the item of clothing you think of when you think of graduation. But very few students own the cap and gown they were to the sacred ceremony, nowadays they are hired and are given back at the end of the day. But, a hoodie or a t-shirt with the University logo on it, the date of graduation and the names of the graduating cohort is something a student can own and keep forever. They will be able to show their children and their grandchildren in years to come.

“My friends and I still have our hoodies from University and we are still as proud of them today, as we were back then.”

An expanding merchandise

The popularity of hoodies and t-shirts has led to an expansion in the range of merchandise available to students. From ¾ length baseball t-shirts to polo shirts to rugby-style tops to sweatshirts, the choices are endless.

And it’s not just clothing. Campus Clothing supplies mugs, pens, bears, silk ties, glass wear and scarfs, which can all be personalized to the academic institution. And even in these COVID-19 times, face masks are available too with all profits of facemasks going back to the NHS (to date this has raised £345). The variety of choice means students and their familieshave a range of mementoes to choose from, making sure the special event lives on.

A family business

Graduation is a family event. Parent, grandparents, brothers and sisters are able to watch or attend their loved one’s ceremony. And Campus Clothing is no different.

Rupert and his wife started the company in 1992 and employed members of his wider family as the demand began to grow. Daniel joined in 2008 and in 2016, after becoming entrenched in its culture, bought the company from Rupert. And it remains a family business, with Daniel’s wife Sophie heading up many areas of the business, his brother Henry Simmonds managing IT improvements and many other close family links. His Father and mother have also stepped in to help at graduations or, more importantly, babysitting in the height of the season!

Daniel said: “We know how special a university graduation ceremony is to a family, and as a family, we want to be able to add to that experience. We are looking forward to bringing Campus Clothing to graduation ceremonies up and down the UK and providing keepsakes that will live on forever.”


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