Consumer Acceptance of Nonwoven Fabrics for Apparel and Accessory End-Uses

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Title: Consumer Acceptance of Nonwoven Fabrics for Apparel and Accessory End-Uses
Author: Dutton, Kathryn Christine
Advisors: Roger Woodard, Committee Member
Cynthia Istook, Committee Chair
Behnam Pourdeyhimi, Committee Member
Michelle Jones, Committee Member
Abstract: Technological advancements have made substantial strides in the development of nonwoven fabrics. New generations of nonwoven fabrics are more durable, have better drape, are stretchable, and overall have a better hand than past generations of nonwoven fabrics. With these advancements come new product development opportunities. One possible opportunity is expansion into the apparel and accessories market, not as a support fabric, but as the shell (visible, outside) fabric. The purpose of this study was to determine the consumer’s acceptance of nonwoven fabrics for apparel and accessory end-uses through the use of subjective fabric hand evaluation. A review of the literature guided the development of an appropriate subjective fabric hand evaluation method to study the average consumer’s acceptance of traditional woven fabrics versus spunlaced (spunbond and hydroentangled) nonwoven fabrics. In the development of this study, Bishop’s (1996) six elements were considered, in addition to, three key publications: Civille and Dus (1990); Cardello, Witherhalter, and Schutz (2003); and the AATCC Evaluation Procedure 5: Guidelines for the Subjective Evaluation of Fabric Hand (2006). Prior to conducting the experiment, the fabrics were chosen and prepared for testing. Three woven fabrics were chosen based on their common and wide spread use in apparel products. Three spunlaced nonwoven fabrics were chosen, one because it was a commercial product and the other two because they represent the most recent generation of nonwoven fabrics. The experiment was comprised of two parts, a rating and a ranking section, which were conducted simultaneously. In Part I of the experiment, the subjects were asked to rate each of the six fabrics for comfort and five different attributes – cool/warm, smooth/rough, thin/thick, flexible/stiff, and tight/stretchy. The samples were presented to the subjects, one at time, in random order, and kept from their view. In Part II of the experiment, the subjects conducted a simple ranking procedure. They were shown four images, one a time, in random order. The four images included a short sleeve button-down collared shirt, a long sleeve button-down collared shirt, a pair of pleated shorts, and a bag. The six fabric samples were placed in front of the subjects in random order, on a non-textured, non-metal table. Again, the fabrics were kept from their view. The subjects were asked to rank the fabrics in order from most desirable (best) to least desirable (worst) for the image. Through the use of the statistical software JMP, nonparametric statistics were conducted to analyze the data and respond to the research questions. The sample consisted of 197 male and female subjects primarily from the central North Carolina region. Data supported the following conclusions regarding the rating and ranking of woven and nonwoven fabrics, and the influence of gender and age on those ratings and rankings. Comfort depended more on the fabric and not necessarily whether the fabric was a woven or nonwoven. Overall, woven fabrics were preferred over nonwoven fabrics for apparel products. However, nonwovens were most preferred for a tote bag along with a woven fabric. The nonwoven fabric similarities and differences varied among attributes. Overall, gender did not influence the fabric rating or ranking responses. It appears age affected only the attributes that involved the surface of the fabrics. If the fabric had a texture, the older the subject, the smoother they perceived the fabric. Age influenced the rankings for shorts and a bag, but not for the other garments. As is the case with consumer studies, other variables, including individual biases, contributed to the fabric rating and ranking responses. However, significant relationships indicate there is potential for new product opportunities for the nonwoven fabrics.
Date: 2009-11-05
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Textile Technology Management
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4837


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