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Confronting stereotypes: apparel fit preferences of Mexican-American women

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ This study aims to investigate the apparel fit preferences of Mexican-American women between the ages of 18 and 25 years old from the Southwestern USA. The study also seeks to analyze the effect of body shape perception, body mass index, and clothing size on apparel fit preferences. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Data were collected in an online survey using an original fit preference assessment scale. Sampling was restricted in terms of gender, age, subculture, and geography to control for the variability that exists in apparel preferences and the Hispanic market due to these factors. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to describe the sample's fit preferences for casual pants, tops, skirts, and dresses and to determine whether physical body characteristics impact these preferences. Findings ‐ Overall, young Mexican-American women preferred semi-fitted apparel across all garment categories studied. Physical body characteristics tended to impact on the sample's preferences for close and loose-fitting garments, with respondents who had narrower waists and smaller body sizes more likely to prefer close-fitting garments. Respondents who had less defined waists and larger body sizes were more likely to prefer loose-fitting garments. Originality/value ‐ Many apparel firms wish to create targeted products for the Hispanic consumer, given the substantial growth in the size and purchasing power of this market. However, firms have frequently had to rely on cultural stereotypes due to a lack of information. The study documented in the paper developed an original fit preference scale to obtain important information that can be used to impact on apparel product development for this consumer.

Keywords: Apparel design; Clothing; Consumer psychology; Ethnic groups; Fashion design; Product development; Women; Young adults

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13612021111169915

Publication date: September 20, 2011

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