Suits you, Santa!

6 months ago Wed 8th Dec 2021

We've made what is (probably) the world’s first Santa suit out of moquette, the hard-wearing fabric we use to make bus seats.

Santa Bobby Boyjonauth is wearing the customised outfit on our Santa Bus, which visits more than 200 streets across 19 nights in the lead up to Christmas, spreading a bit of magic around Brighton and Hove.

The Santa suit is an exact match for the red material we use for our seats and it has more than 100 fairy lights stitched into the suit’s fur trim. It was made over one weekend at our Conway Street Trim Shop, where Bobby works.

The Trim Shop normally makes the seats and headrests for our bus fleet of more than 400 buses.

“Anyone can buy a Santa suit but not many people make their own,” said Bobby. “It’s something people haven’t seen before. It’s eye-opening. Children love it and you see more parents taking pictures with Santa.”

Bobby’s colleague, Nathan, made the suit on an industrial sewing machine using three metres of moquette, a French word for the tough woollen fabric used on upholstery on trains and buses all over the world.

“We wanted to make something a bit special and we knew children would recognise the bus seat fabric of Santa’s big red suit," said Nathan. "We hope it almost feels like they are in Santa’s presence when they get on a bus. We really enjoyed making it and it’s great to have something unique to us.”

Nathan said he also made the Santa suit to highlight the Trim Shop’s work.

“Not many people understand what we do. They usually think our bus seats are made in China but they’re not. They’re made right here, in Hove.”

Although the suit looks fabulous, it’s unlikely to gain mass appeal due to its built-in impracticalities, said Bobby.

“It gets a little bit heavy after an hour of wearing it, you start feeling your knees dipping a bit and you feel the weight,” he said. “But it’s not itchy, it’s soft, and nobody else has another suit like it.”

Because the fabric is hard wearing it is not very flexible. Once Bobby has the suit on he can’t put on his boots. It’s down to Nathan to help him get dressed before he boards the Santa Bus at night.

Nathan said: “It’s like he’s getting dressed up to go to the North Pole. I can only imagine that’s how Henry VIII would look with multiple layers of fabric around his neck. It’s certainly a two-man job to get him ready and connecting up the lights.” 

On the upside, Nathan said the suit was warm, stain resistant and likely to last another four Christmases.

For all the Santa Bus routes and to donate to the 12 chosen Santa Bus local charities and community groups, please click here.


Santa Bus Fun Facts 

  • The Santa Bus has already raised more than £300,000 for local charities and community groups and it’s now in its 18th year.
  • This year, the 12 chosen Santa Bus charities are: Albion in the Community, BHT Sussex, Brighton Sussex University Hospitals Charity, Chestnut Tree House Children's Hospice, East Sussex Credit Union Foundation, Impact Initiatives, Martlets Hospice, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Racial Harassment Forum, Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, Switchboard and Together Co.
  • The Santa Bus did not run last year because of Covid, the first year it has not done so.
  • You can find out where the bus is in real time using our Santa Bus tracker.
  • Everyone on the Santa Bus from Brighton & Hove and Metrobus is a volunteer: the driver, the walkers and the engineers who get the bus ready with 10,000 fairy lights. Our MD comes out on the bus too.
  • The last Santa Bus in 2020 involved more than 800 hours of volunteer time. This year will be much higher.
  • As well as going out over 19 nights, the bus supports other events, e.g. a special visit to Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice and children’s Christmas parties.
  • More than 50 local business and organisations have volunteered to become Santa Bus collection points this year.