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Consumer expectations and perception of clothing comfort in sports and exercise garments

Julia Wilfling (Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
George Havenith (Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Margherita Raccuglia (Adidas Ag, Herzogenaurach, Germany)
Simon Hodder (Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)

Research Journal of Textile and Apparel

ISSN: 1560-6074

Article publication date: 18 August 2021

Issue publication date: 28 November 2022




Sports garments play an important role in the well-being of an athlete by protecting the wearer from changing environmental conditions and providing a comfortable feel. Clothing requirements have changed in recent years and demand for apparel with a higher comfort performance has been rising. Hence, the purpose of this study is to explore consumers’ expectations and perception of comfort and to examine how different textiles are perceived by consumers to provide useful knowledge that allows to engineer comfort into fabrics and sports garments.


This online survey comprised 292 respondents, classified by sex, age, nationality and physical activity. The respondents were asked a total of 18 questions through the Bristol Online Survey tool to explore expectation, perception and preference of clothing comfort, specifically of sportswear.


Fit and comfort are closely linked together, both forming part of the clothing comfort concept. When purchasing garments online, the haptics of fabrics were identified as a crucial missing parameter. However, priorities of attributes within the concept varied according to the person’s sex and nationality. Women put more emphasis on garment fit and showed a higher need for tactile input, whereas men prioritised physiological comfort descriptors, i.e. properties which facilitate thermoregulation. Furthermore, there is an increased importance of physiological comfort parameters for people exercising for 10 or more hours per week. Finally, it was possible to identify common associations and preferences for textile materials (cotton, polyester, cotton/polyester blend and wool). However, consideration should be taken concerning sex and nationality.


Sex and nationality are parameters modulating the clothing comfort concept and the conceptualised feel of materials. Therefore, the sex and nationality of the end-consumer should be considered during the development phase of sports garments and particular attention should be given to the targeted market in which these will be sold.



The research presented was co-funded by adidas FUTURE Sport Science Team, Germany, and the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, Loughborough University.


Wilfling, J., Havenith, G., Raccuglia, M. and Hodder, S. (2022), "Consumer expectations and perception of clothing comfort in sports and exercise garments", Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 293-309.



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