Sports Clothing Quality:- How sports clothing is evaluated has many implications for the manufacturing process, including sourcing, material selection, and production conditions. The experts who participated in this study were asked to share their thoughts on what they believed were the essential attributes of a sports clothing product.
Quality is a vital aspect that needs to be analyzed when evaluating any product. In a recent thematic analysis, three different perspectives on quality were discussed. Each view provides quality difficulties in the evaluation process and establishes a sports clothing quality framework. Experts all agreed that with the quality of sporting apparel, people would either be delighted by how good they look on or have an immediate positive impression.
Using the established sports quality framework, I evaluated the overall quality of a specific piece by breaking it down into attributes and assigning evaluation methods to them. Some challenges or suggestions for your evaluation process were detected, and this ranged from the lack of measurement of points to solutions such as digitalization.
The word quality is challenging to define and is perceived differently by each person. However, there are a few qualities that most people agree on. For example, they would say that the material quality should be durable, soft, and fashionable. It should also be comfortable to wear and at an affordable price.
Quality can have different meanings in different industries, leading to confusion in quality management. So, sportswear designers and evaluators need to understand quality and its dimensions. This means understanding what quality is, how it’s composed, what impacts it etc.
- Can a Materials Revolution Make Fashion More Sustainable?
- Choosing Right Clothing Vendors for Your Next Project: 5 Important Things
A standard definition for quality is how something is suitable for its intended use or purpose. This can be subjective, considering what the user thinks, or objective, based on what is most important in the product.
The subjectively perceived quality of a product is traditionally considered unmeasured, but recent papers present approaches to operationalize subjectively perceived quality in the automotive industry.
These approaches help you to integrate subjective customer perception and objective product characteristics.
The first step of all these approaches is to break down the overall impression of a product’s quality into smaller parts (Lieb et al., 2008; Quattelbaum, Knispel, Falk, & Schmitt, 2013; Stylidis, Wickens & Shackelford, 2020).
The study of quality clothing is not limited to the aesthetics or materials of clothing. Different people have different priorities, so it is essential to consider what quality means to the person.
Consumers are becoming more and more aware of what they eat and what they buy. The agricultural sector has been forced to adapt to the new demands of consumers. One of the consequences is that the production process has changed. Consumers want to know everything about the food they buy, from where it was produced to its creation, who grew it, etcetera.
Sports clothing quality
Sportswear is designed to cater to the needs of athletes in the field. The functional nature of the clothing means that its aesthetic qualities are often less considered than other garments, such as casual wear.
There are only a limited amount of sports clothing quality studies in the literature. However, these studies have pinpointed the importance of fabric type and fit with consumer satisfaction (Fowler, 1999; Rogers & Lowell Lutz, 1990; Wilfling, Havenith, Raccuglia, & Hodder, 2021; Zhou et al., 2018).
A study was conducted to measure the effects of a new type of soup on consumer attitudes. The study had a pre-selected set of attributes from which respondents could choose. However, this led to a problem as it was found that the terms were not defined correctly and that the respondents might not understand them or have difficulty answering them.
When choosing a sports clothing store, you might think that you need to look for qualitative studies to decide; however, it’s often more random than that. Qualitative research findings provide limited guidance for sports clothing stores (Fowler, 1999; Rogers & Lowell Lutz, 1990; Willing et al., 2021).
Zhou et al. (2018) interviewed Australian consumers to identify the positive aspects of activewear brands. Product attributes were introduced in the marketing aspect, such as functional design, color, and size.
Most existing research focuses on consumers. However, experts are often a valuable source of information due to their high knowledge and understanding in the field. Specifically, this study investigates the following questions:
- What do you think is the general quality understanding of textile experts?
- Textile experts break down quality into three main categories: design & construction, materials, and care labels.?
- We surveyed several textile experts to see what they thought of the current process for evaluating sports clothing?
According to twenty-two interviews, there are a lot of textile experts working in the different departments of sports clothing development & evaluation. The interviewers wanted to discuss the quality of clothing with various athletes and how it’s evaluated. They followed a structured schedule to get these opinions.
We sent the interviewers a guide with questions to prepare one day before. This is standard protocol for an expert interview; some information can be sensitive.
Not all the participants spoke English as their first language, so giving them a chance to think about the questions in advance might have made interview comprehension easier.
Interviews were conversational and open-ended, averaging 7-30 minutes.
Interviews were conducted by the first author (an environmental ergonomics doctoral researcher holding an MSc in textile technology, whose research focuses on sports clothing quality perception) via Microsoft teams, audio-recorded (with the knowledge and informed consent of the participants), and fully transcribed verbatim.
Before the study, two pilot interviews with textile experts were conducted. Minor changes were made to the interview schedule to finalize it.
Data for this study were collected from 22 textile experts working at a leading sporting goods company.
The selection of interviewees was made on a convenience basis. People who worked at least in an executive position in the sports clothing industry, and we’re open to answering questions about what they knew we’re called to participate. The interviewees could differentiate themselves because they all had different roles in their respective organizations.
The number in brackets behind the functions corresponds to the number of participants who work in that function:
- Apparel development
- Material development
- Pattern making
- Sport science
This study aimed to better understand the experts’ perspectives on sports clothing quality. Qualitative research is a scientific approach to understanding the meaning of human behavior. It is typically used in social science research to study aspects of culture, society, and human experience. A thematic analysis was conducted by the same researcher that interviewed the participants using NVivo software.
The research question needs to be broken down, categorized, and analyzed, and this can help you identify patterns and cut through the complexity.
This part deals with the themes and their sub-themes concerning our three central research questions. Participants responded to the survey with many insightful quotes, and you can find a sampling of them here, where I’m providing the interview number and the theme to which each quote belongs.
In the present expert sample, mainly three views on quality arose. These were, perceived sports clothing quality as:
· The fulfillment of the use-case requirements. Garments should meet all standards that make them suitable for the intended use.
· Clothes need to look good. People form their impressions of clothes quickly, and they may decide based on their first impression. To increase your visitors’ chance of positive first impressions, you should use high-quality images of your products. It’s for me and for it’s the perception of the wearer or even the perception of touch and kind of how that perception influences their idea of how this will perform kind of before any scientific numbers or studies, or anything is done it’s really kind of when you put it on when you first for our example run in it when you first touch it
· One person’s opinion. I think the quality is just different for everyone. So it depends on your values, which are nurtured in families and communities.
The reasons for considering the quality of sports clothes that people perceive can be assigned to the above views. Most bases fit with the idea that perceived sports apparel quality is related to customer satisfaction. Improve the quality of your product by understanding your consumers better.
This is a comparison of two competing products, one has more minor features but is cheaper, and the other has more features but is more expensive.
One compelling reason is that outdoor sporting clothes have to have a certain level of quality to ensure consumers’ health. We spoke to an interviewee who said that for him, consumers’ health was a vital case requirement because he works in the outdoor industry, which affects his business.
There are a lot of views about what qualifies as good quality sports clothing. For many people, it’s about the emotional connection with the brand that has been built up over time. Quality is also essential to establish trust and reputation in this industry.
Breaking down sports clothing quality
The sports clothing quality framework contains four stages which are introduced below.
Stage 1: clusters
In the first stage, clusters were formed based on subthemes from the theme of ‘attributes.’ These attributes include any statement made by an expert about what they consider when purchasing sports clothing.
This document has four key themes: aesthetics, durability, processing, and usability. The theme “aesthetic” had the following statements; looks and material. Reports about the properties of clothes that are external and noticed by others can be found in the subtheme ‘extrinsic.’ The ‘Durability and Processing’ subtheme of technical sportswear mainly looks at how well a product is made. The subtheme ‘Usability’ is about new materials, supporting athletes during sports, and cooperation with partners.
Stage 2: quality attributes
Attributes are specific aspects relevant for experts in the development and evaluation of sportswear. These attributes could range from fit and size to color and performance.
A 2013 study found that attributes can be communicated with non-experts (Quattelbaum et al., 2013). More than 700 potential product attributes were identified during the survey and then arranged into 13 categories, and these were later divided up into 4 clusters or stages.
The two attributes assigned to ‘aesthetic’ were “look” and “haptic.”
The ‘Look’ refers to the emotional and subjective response to the visual appearance of clothing, and ‘Haptic’ to the reaction generated through its contact with tactile receptors.
Haptic is everything you can sense through your hands, everything you can perceive with the receptors in your body’s soft, complex parts. How stretchy something feels or how it does or does not recover could be tactile data, too. Weight also falls under that category. Not to mention things like touch/temperature and cool /warm. The tactile world is tangible; it’s not just the thing you’re touching but everything else on the surface of whatever you’re holding, including items such as air pressure, temperature, and humidity.
Extrinsic products are of lower quality than intrinsic products but still have a certain level of perceived quality due to their branding. We identified the following attributes for extraneous products, ‘brand,’ ‘sustainability,’ ‘safety and compliance,’ and ‘price.’ This statement from one participant illustrates this:
Sustainability is described as a product’s impact on the environment.
The participants couldn’t fully answer this question because sustainable production looks different depending on the context. However, one thing that we do know is that it’s still a topic for research.
Safety and compliance are often used to fulfill regulations – this ensures that your customers and suppliers are protected, while price reflects the value that a consumer sees in a product.
Stage 3: descriptors
The participants were asked to give attributes and assign technical parameters. We then determined the different descriptors from their definitions.
While the attributes are hard to measure, the descriptors are easier to evaluate. For example, a copywriter has more control over snagging descriptors than they would with standardized testing. This becomes problematic for non-English speakers trying to understand certain words in an otherwise technical description.
Stage 4: evaluation methods
There are five ways to assess the quality of sports clothing: ‘Conventional textile testing,’ ‘expert assessment,’ ‘wear trials,’ ‘advanced lab testing, and customer feedback.
Textile testing has a variety of tests, which can be categorized by their purpose (detection of faults or further information) or by the textile material being tested. All products have to pass these standards before being sold. Suppliers sometimes carry out textile trying themselves and external suppliers, who also typically carry out tests for clients.
The expert opinion is particularly relevant to judgments of the quality of garments, with experience helping in artistry and fit.
Criticism and praise
As the name indicates, this subtheme covers all statements related to the current evaluation process’s advantages and disadvantages. In general, participants considered the current testing methods to be appropriate. However, diverse challenges were identified in the evaluation process. Method and tool-related challenges are ‘testability’, ‘diversity versus standardization’, ‘reality versus consistency’, ‘comparability’, and ‘slowness’. Consumer-related challenges are ‘communication’, ‘relevance’, ‘expectation’, and ‘understanding of the consumer’.
The challenge’ testability’ describes that attributes like ‘haptic’ or ‘look’ cannot be tested objectively.
Within the challenge’ diversity versus standardization’, participants described that the internal standards and guidelines are not differentiated enough for the range of products and use cases.
Experts understanding of perceived quality
The sample data was looked at concerning how people define the quality of sports clothing. From this, three views were identified. Considering that perceived quality is how well a use case was fulfilled, this corresponds to the definition of objective quality or the product-based approach.
That perceived quality is individual, different for each person. A particular value system that everybody has as nurture (interview 210105 sports science) resembles the definition of Zeithaml (1988), who sees perceived quality as a judgment influenced by expectations, prior experience of similar goods, personal preferences, and attitudes toward the product under consideration.
Lieb et al. (2008) excerpt four consistent points across different definitions for perceived quality. One issue is that perceived quality is subjective, and quality perception happens consciously and unconsciously to satisfy evident and hidden customer needs. This matches with the view that perceived quality is an immediate impression.
The different definitions of quality, and their importance for the use of AI writers in the workplace, can also be attributed to the different levels of perceived quality.
Understanding our consumers and building better products are two of the most critical quality aspects. Quality is a subjective concept; it is essential to understand that perceived quality is relevant for creating an emotional connection.
Sports clothing quality framework
This section discusses the sports clothing quality framework in the context of the research question and compares it with studies from the literature, which mainly have focussed on casual womenswear. The participant’s work background and how this influences their view on different quality attributes is also addressed.
The overall aim of the framework is to give an overview of sports clothing quality, which was confirmed in the respondent validation.
The goal of the present study is to establish a framework for clear communication. To make this happen, we need a discussion concerning this goal. Quality relating to understanding or not understanding is difficult to define. Clusters and attributes depend on whether you’re taking an objective or subjective view.
Durability and processing are mostly objective before other subjective areas, such as those related to aesthetics and extrinsic. Stylidis et al. (2020) assume in a similar context that only for the more product-based perceived quality it is possible to define attributes, which can be used as measurable product-specific variables and allow a meaningful discussion between the designer and customer. This also applies to the sports clothing quality framework.
The ‘durability and processing’ cluster has clearer descriptors, but the ‘extrinsic’ cluster needs more clarification.
Some evaluation methods are linked to these clusters, which presents a challenge to clear communication & operation. Another obstacle is the presence of overlaps between the attributes. This applies particularly to the attribute’ comfort,’ which can be seen as a cross-section of the attributes’ temperature and moisture regulation, ‘fit’ and ‘haptic.’
The quality of sporting goods and their attributes are not yet fully described. So far, the descriptions we have come from a consumer’s perspective. We studied a variety of outfits and had 22 interviews with industry experts that gave us their thoughts on the outfit’s quality. The interviews derived three different quality understandings, a sports clothing quality framework, and the experts’ opinions on the evaluation process.
Thus, the study provides insights into the industry, defines a vocabulary for obtaining an evaluation of sports clothing, and discusses sportswear’s unique features. The study also compares experts’ and consumers’ opinions on sports clothing.
Current research does not provide enough evidence for this. Further investigation is needed, preferably from multiple perspectives and specific sports.
We think you should research more to ensure the definitional framework has a solid grounding. Research could examine things from other angles, such as how people perceive the quality of sports clothing for different types of sports.