Stanbury Uniforms, Inc.
The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps at Rockford, Illinois, one of the world’s leading corps, wears a uniform created by Stanbury.
The Beat Goes On
There is a certain type of attire that very few teenagers would describe as “cool,” yet in any given year, countless high school students wear it with pride.
We’re talking about marching band uniforms, and a staggering number of them are manufactured by a Missouri company at Brookfield in north-central Missouri.
Stanbury Uniforms, Inc., was founded in 1917 at Kansas City by a merchant tailor who specialized in police, fire, and military uniforms and then branched out into the flashier regalia worn by circus performers and members of fraternal organizations.
In the 1930s, musicians’ showmanship started to incorporate motion, and founder Will Stanbury identified a new market niche.
“Bands got out from under the gazebos in town squares and took to the streets and started marching,” says Steve Roberts, general manager. “Parades became popular, creating a need for costuming.”
Stanbury Uniforms has been meeting that need ever since. In 1958, the company moved to Brookfield. Today, the company has 200 employees and annually pulls in close to $12 million, providing uniforms for more than 20,000 bands worldwide, including more than two hundred school bands in Missouri.
Stanbury’s embroidered and braided uniforms and feathered helmets and hats are amply represented each year in the famed Rose Bowl and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades.
All Stanbury uniforms are custom-designed based on school colors, each band’s individual style, and other factors. Community values come into play, as well.
“We’re not by any means influenced by what’s being shown on runways in New York City,” says Steve, whose father, Gary, is the company’s president and CEO. “However, to some degree, our uniforms reflect what’s going on in popular culture. Right now, you hear the word ‘bling.’ Believe it or not, band uniforms have bling.”
Flashy elements include rhinestones, sequins, crystal buttons, and mirrored embellishments.
“All those things are very popular right now, but not across the board,” Steve says. “You wouldn’t see something like that in East Texas, where a more militaristic style would be the norm.”
Stanbury’s manufacturing facility annually uses 150,000 yards of fabric to produce 40,000 uniforms. The average cost per outfit is about $400.
Steve says Stanbury Uniforms is rooted in a tradition that’s here to stay: “We’re a slice of Americana—apple pie, hot dogs, parades, and marching bands. We’re proud to be part of that.”
However, he wistfully acknowledges that in other respects, the company is among the last of a dying breed.
“Missouri once had a very proud sewing heritage,” he says. “But we’re one of the few sewing and textile businesses remaining in the state.”
Call 1-800-826-2246 or visit www.stanbury.com for more information.