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International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research

Fashion and Textiles Cover Image
  • Research
  • Open Access

Satisfaction with current martial arts’ uniforms and purchase intention of new uniforms

Fashion and TextilesInternational Journal of Interdisciplinary Research20174:1

https://doi.org/10.1186/s40691-016-0085-6

  • Received: 13 April 2016
  • Accepted: 8 December 2016
  • Published:

The Erratum to this article has been published in Fashion and Textiles 2017 4:12

Abstract

The purpose of the present study is to investigate martial arts practitioners’ satisfaction with their current uniforms and purchase intention of new uniforms. A total of 588 martial arts practitioners were recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk, including 401 men and 187 women. The results indicated that martial art practitioners were satisfied with their current uniforms when three functional attributes were good: quality, fit, and comfort. The aesthetic variable, fashion, only moderately influenced satisfaction with the current uniforms. However, when purchasing new uniforms, both functional and aesthetic attributes were essential factors. In addition, benefits of martial arts and protection from injury were two necessary conditions for commitment to martial arts. However, neither commitment to martial arts or satisfaction with the current uniform contributed to purchase intention of new uniforms. The purchase intention was only related to the characteristics of the new uniforms: whether the new uniforms can enhance practitioners’ functional performance and aesthetic appearance. The present study, for the first time, revealed marital arts practitioners’ strong desire of protection: protection strongly contributed to expected performance, expected appearance, and commitment to martial arts.

Keywords

  • Martial arts uniforms
  • Satisfaction
  • Protection
  • Purchase intention

Introduction

Martial arts refers to various systems of training for combat, including Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Judo, Jujitsu, Tai Chi, Aikido, Hapkido, Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts, etc. (Rousseau 2015). The martial arts industry has grown tremendously (Ko 2003). The total revenue of the martial arts studio industry in the world was $3 billion in 2014, and the average annual growth rate was 1.2% from 2009 to 2014 (Diment 2014). As the number of people involved in martial arts increases, the demand for martial arts uniforms increases. Although martial arts clothing has been a high growth product, academic research has focused little on it. Previous research conducted on martial arts mostly emphasized how to prevent injury (Kochhar et al. 2005) and few patents therefore focused on developing protective devices (Chi et al. 2004). No study has examined martial arts practitioners’ clothing needs, whether, practitioners are satisfied with their current uniforms and what types of uniforms they prefer to purchase are unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify factors that influence martial arts practitioners’ satisfaction with their current uniforms and their purchase intention for new uniforms.

This study provides both theoretical and empirical contributions. Theoretically, by testing how factors influence satisfaction with current uniforms and purchase intention of new uniforms, this study provides a theoretical foundation for future studies of sportswear. Practically, this study provides valuable insights to guide apparel companies to create better martial arts uniforms to meet consumers’ needs.

Literature review

Theoretical framework

The Functional, Expressive, and Aesthetic Consumer Needs Model (FEA Model) has been used to identify functional clothing needs of target consumers (Lamb and Kallal 1992), such as for consumers’ hospital gowns (Cho 2006), women’s sailing apparel (Bye and Hakala 2005), and adolescent disabled girls’ clothing (Stokes and Black 2012). According to the FEA Model, function, expression, and aesthetic are three considerations for apparel (Lamb and Kallal 1992). Functional consideration is related to protection, fit, and comfort; expressive consideration is related to the communicative aspects of clothing; aesthetic consideration is related to the human desire of beauty, such as fashion and style (Lamb and Kallal 1992).

The current study only incorporated functional and aesthetic considerations from the FEA model. The reasons were the following. Both aesthetic and functional aspects are central criteria to evaluate apparel products, including martial arts uniforms (Chattaraman and Rudd 2006; Perry and Chung 2016). However, expressive consideration is not important for all martial arts uniforms. For example, Karate belt colors communicate rank levels, while Tai Chi belt colors do not have any meaning; Judo uniforms communicate cultural meanings, while Mixed Martial Arts uniforms are not related to cultural meanings. Therefore, the expressive consideration was not suitable to assess all martial arts uniforms together in the current study. In addition, empirical studies have indicated that functional performance and aesthetic appearance, rather than expressive consideration, are essential factors for sportswear (Dickson and Pollack 2000). Furthermore, to fit individual study contents, many empirical studies have also excluded expressive considerations (e.g., Jin and Black 2012; Michaelson 2015).

To meet the research purpose, variables were chosen and causal relationships were proposed. First, to assess martial arts practitioners’ satisfaction with their current uniforms, functional and aesthetic variables of the current uniforms were chosen based on the FEA model and previous literature (Dickson and Pollack 2000; Lamb and Kallal 1992). In the current study, functional attributes included quality, fit, comfort, and protection; aesthetic attributes included fashion. They were all modified from previous research (e.g., Bye and Hakala 2005; Chen et al. 2010; Dickson and Pollack 2000; Gupta 2011; Wheat and Dickson 1999). Quality refers to durability, construction, and resistance to shrinkage of the martial arts uniforms (Wheat and Dickson 1999). Fit refers to how well a uniform is conformed to the body and the balance between the uniform and the body (Chen et al. 2010). Comfort refers to the wearer’s feeling of the uniform (Bye and Hakala 2005). Protection refers to the ability to keep the body safe from potential harm (Gupta 2011). Fashion refers to the martial arts uniforms latest styles and how good the uniform looks on practitioners (Dickson and Pollack 2000).

Second, to assess practitioners’ purchase intention of new uniforms, four variables were chosen as antecedents: satisfaction with current uniforms, expected performance and expected appearance of new uniforms, and commitment to martial arts. Satisfaction with current uniforms, which refers to a practitioner’s overall experiences and pleasure with the current uniforms, was chosen based on previous literature (Olsen 2007). Expected performance, which refers to an expectation that the new martial arts uniforms would enhance the practitioner’s performance (Wheat and Dickson 1999), and expected appearance, which refers to an expectation that the new uniforms would enhance the practitioner’s aesthetic appearance (Dickson and Pollack 2000), were chosen based on the FEA model and previous literature (Dickson and Pollack 2000; Lamb and Kallal 1992). Commitment to martial arts, which refers to the level of priority given to martial arts (Mitchka et al. 2008), was chosen based on previous studies’ conclusion that commitment was a significant antecedent of purchase intention (Olsen 2007; Yi and La 2004).

Thirdly, functional (e.g., quality, fit, size, comfort, and protection) and aesthetic variables (e.g., fashion) of the current uniforms were likely to influence the expected performance and the expected appearance of new uniforms (Choi and Ashdown 2002; Dickson and Pollack 2000). Therefore, causal relationships between the current uniforms’ attributes and new uniforms’ expected performance and appearance were proposed.

Fourth, because commitment is influenced by various benefits, benefits of martial arts (e.g., enjoyment, happiness, and relaxation) and benefits of martial arts uniforms (e.g., protection from injury) were also chosen (Ju et al. 2009).

In sum, drawing from the FEA Model’s functional and aesthetic considerations, the current study proposed a modified model, including functional variables, aesthetic variables, and satisfaction with current uniforms; expected performance and appearance of new uniforms; benefits of and commitment to martial art; and intention to purchase new uniforms. Future studies may use the modified model as a theoretical foundation of functional sportswear. More justifications of causal relationships are presented in the following sections.

Current uniform attributes and satisfaction with current uniforms

The FEA Model suggests both functional attributes and aesthetic attributes influence satisfaction with a garment (Lamb and Kallal 1992). Empirical studies have shown satisfaction was influenced by various apparel attributes across numerous apparel products, for example, quality of apparel products (Kim and Damhorst 2009), function and style of disabled girls’ clothing (Stokes 2010), fit and comfort of in-line skaters’ clothing (Dickson and Pollack 2000), comfort and attractiveness of styles of female golfers’ uniforms (Wheat and Dickson 1999), fit and size of dancewear (Mitchka et al. 2008) and flight attendants’ uniforms (Santos et al. 2010), comfort, fit, construction, size, fabric, fiber content, style, fashion, and attractiveness of tennis wear (Chae et al. 2006), and aesthetically pleasant, fit, and safety of bicycle clothing (Steinhardt 2010). Therefore, based on the FEA model and previous research, both functional attributes (e.g., quality, fit, protection, and comfort) and aesthetic attributes (e.g., fashion) of current uniforms were proposed to influence martial arts practitioners’ satisfaction with current uniforms:

H1a

Quality positively influences satisfaction with current uniforms.

H1b

Fit positively influences satisfaction with current uniforms.

H1c

Protection positively influences satisfaction with current uniforms.

H1d

Comfort positively influences satisfaction with current uniforms.

H1e

Fashion positively influences satisfaction with current uniforms.

Current uniform attributes and expected performance of new uniforms

Functional sportswear is expected to increase a wearer’s performance (Choi and Ashdown 2002; Wheat and Dickson 1999). For example, runners want their clothing to meet expected performance (Leksrisompong 2010); pear workers want clothing to increase mobility and work efficiency (Choi and Ashdown 2002); golfers want to have sufficient back length to achieve an uninhibited swing (Wheat and Dickson 1999); sailors require uniforms which allow quick actions while the body is in a confined space (Bye and Hakala 2005); and soldiers want body armor to not restrict ease of movement (Starr et al. 2015).

Apparel functional attributes influence a wearer’s performance (Bye and Hakala 2005; Jin and Black 2012). Quality indicators, such as durability, sewing quality, and shrinkage, may influence a wearer’s action. For example, clothing may tear during training when the materials are not durable or the stiches are not strong. Shrinkage leads to a poor fit. Poor fitting clothing further restrains movement (Michaelson 2015). For example, loose thigh or tight crotch of rock climbing pants influenced climbers’ movement (Michaelson 2015), garments with excess bulk inhibit sailors’ mobility (Bye and Hakala 2005), and tight sleeves restrict tennis players when serving tennis balls (Jin and Black 2012). Similarly, ill-fitting martial arts pants (e.g., too narrow or too big) may restrict high kick actions.

In addition, injury affects martial arts practitioners’ performance (Feehan and Waller 1995). Therefore, protecting practitioners from injury is expected to enhance their physical performance. Empirical studies have also shown that rock climbers expect to have better protective pants to improve climbing performance (Michaelson 2015).

Furthermore, comfort is one of the major factors that increase sports players’ performance (Çivitci and Dengin 2014; Jin and Black 2012). Clothing comfort is not only related to the physical feel of the materials (e.g., soft or stiff), but also related to thermal balance, breathability, and the permeability of fabric (Bye and Hakala 2005). Breathable and permeable uniforms would help practitioners keep a comfortable temperature; however, the non-breathable and non-permeable uniforms may become sticky in sweaty conditions and therefore impede practitioners’ mobility. Empirical studies indicated that comfort influenced soldiers’ mobility (Starr et al. 2015) and it was the most important attribute that affects a runner (Çivitci and Dengin 2014) and male tennis players’ performance (Jin and Black 2012).

An important evaluation resource of future products’ performance comes from familiar products (Chae et al. 2006). The expected performance of a new future product is updated through consumption experiences of the current product attributes (Yi and La 2004). Therefore, quality, fit, protection, and comfort of the current uniforms were supposed to positively influence expected performance of the future martial arts uniforms:

H2a

Quality positively influences expected performance of new uniforms.

H2b

Fit positively influences expected performance of new uniforms.

H2c

Protection positively influences expected performance of new uniforms.

H2d

Comfort positively influences expected performance of new uniforms.

Current uniform attributes and expected appearance of new uniforms

Functional sportswear is also expected to increase the attractiveness of a wearer’s appearance (Dickson and Pollack 2000), especially for females. For example, female in-line skaters expected their clothing to enhance feminine looks (Dickson and Pollack 2000). Female sailors and bicyclists also hoped to have feminine and attractive styles of clothing (Bye and Hakala 2005; Casselman-Dickson and Damhorst 1993; Steinhardt 2010). Teen disabled girls were strongly interested in functional clothing with stylish details (Stokes 2010). Male tennis players also had style and appearance expectations (Jin and Black 2012). Runners, regardless of gender, hoped to have attractive running clothing (Leksrisompong 2010).

Fit is not only a critical element that influences garment performance, but also affects the appearance of the garment (Bye and Hakala 2005). Both too tight and too loose garments influence a wearer’s appearance. Martial arts uniforms do not offer special protection, unless practitioners wear additional protective equipment (Macan et al. 2006). The protective equipment, such as a chest protector and mouth guard, also affects a practitioner’s appearance. Therefore, fit, protection, and fashion of the current uniforms were proposed to influence expected appearance of new uniforms:

H3a

Fit positively influences expected appearance of new uniforms.

H3b

Protection positively influences expected appearance of new uniforms.

H3c

Fashion positively influences expected appearance of new uniforms.

Benefits and commitment to martial arts

The positive relationship between benefits and commitment has been reported in various fields. For example, employee benefits influenced organizational commitment (Ju et al. 2009); and learning benefits, social benefits, and hedonic benefits influenced commitment to online brand (Kuo and Feng 2013). While these studies did not focus on martial arts, the significant relationship between benefits and commitment may be applied to martial arts: benefits of martial arts may play significant roles in commitment to martial arts.

Martial arts practices lead to various types and distribution of injuries (Zetaruk et al. 2005). Protective gear offers benefits to both the wearer and the opponent: the wearers get protection from the opponent’s attack and the opponent can execute the action better without worrying about serious injuries he/she may bring to the protected wearer (Zetaruk et al. 2005). With protection benefits from injuries, martial arts practitioners may possibly commit to a longer-term practice. In addition, martial arts also offer hedonic and psychological health benefits, such as enjoyment, relaxation, and happiness by learning breath control and mind–body coordination (Woodward 2009). These hedonic and psychological benefits may also increase commitment to martial arts. Therefore, benefits of martial arts apparel (e.g., protection from injury) and benefits of practicing martial arts (e.g., enjoyment, relaxation, and happiness) were expected to influence practitioners’ commitment to martial arts:

H4

Protection positively influences commitment to martial arts.

H5

Benefits of martial arts positively influences commitment to martial arts.

Factors influence purchase intention of new uniforms

Satisfaction with a product was assumed to positively influence purchase intention of the product later (Olsen 2007). However, empirical studies have reported contradictory results. Some studies reported that satisfaction with previous purchase apparel leads to repurchase behavior (Curtis et al. 2011; Heitmann et al. 2007). Other researchers reported that satisfaction has little influence on repurchase intention (Olsen 2007; Suh and Yi 2006). In the apparel field, satisfaction with apparel purchases did not necessarily increase repurchase (Voss et al. 2010). To further understand how satisfaction with current uniforms related to purchase intention of new uniforms, a positive relationship between them was temporarily proposed.

Both expected apparel performance and expected appearance positively influenced purchase intention of apparel (Dickson and Pollack 2000). Athletes had similar dual needs for their uniforms: both functionally enhancing performance and aesthetically pleasing appearance (Wheat and Dickson 1999). Casselman-Dickson and Damhorst (1993) found that performance-enhancing factors such as enhancing physical performance and helping to ride faster were key determinants for considering buying/using cycling clothing, and at the same time, modest but attractive appearance was also desired. Dickson and Pollack (2000) reported that enhancement of performance and fashionable appearance significantly predicted in-line skaters’ clothing buying intention. Leksrisompong (2010) also found that running clothing’s function and aesthetic were two important predictors to purchase.

Commitment plays a significant role in product purchase and repurchase behavior (Olsen 2007). High-commitment customers have more repurchase intentions of a given product than low-commitment customers (Yi and La 2004). Similarly, people with higher commitment to a sport tend to purchase the specialized sport clothing (Mitchka et al. 2008). For example, the commitment to in-line skating significantly influenced consumers’ purchase intention of special skating clothing (Dickson and Pollack 2000).

In sum, purchase intention of new martial arts uniforms was proposed to be influenced by practitioners’ satisfaction with current uniforms, the expected performance and expected appearance of new uniforms, and practitioners’ commitment to martial arts:

H6

Satisfaction with current uniforms positively influences purchase intention of new uniforms.

H7

Expected performance positively influences purchase intention of new uniforms.

H8

Expected appearance positively influences purchase intention of new uniforms.

H9

Commitment to martial arts positively influences purchase intention of new uniforms.

Methods

Procedure

An online survey, a recruiting email, and a consent form were submitted to an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Once approval was received, the letter, the consent form, and the survey were created on Qualtrics and then linked to Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).

Questionnaire

All measures were adapted from previous studies (Appendix A). Each item was measured by a 7-point Likert scale. Some measures’ names were modified to fit the current study content. For example, fashion vs. comfort (α = .74) (Dickson and Pollack 2000) was divided into two different constructs and renamed as a 3-item factor, fashion and a 2-item factor, comfort, respectively. Benefits of martial arts and commitment to martial arts, fit (e.g., size and fit), and expected appearance were adapted from Cowie (2001), with Cronbach’s α values of .71, .79, .91, and .85 respectively (Ho 2010). Quality and satisfaction with current uniforms were modified from Wheat and Dickson (1999) with Cronbach’s α values of .85 and .96, respectively. Protection and expected performance were adapted from Holland (2007) with Cronbach’s α values of .90 and .96, respectively. Intention to purchase were adapted from Baker and Churchill (1977) with a Cronbach’s α of .81. All measures included three items, except intention to purchase (5 items) and comfort (2 items). Previous studies have indicated that a 2-item factor is acceptable (Raubenheimer 2004).

Participants

Martial arts practitioners were the target population. To find as many participants as possible, practitioners were recruited via MTurk. A 50-cent compensation was provided for completing the survey. Empirical studies have indicated that Mturk data are as reliable as the traditional methods (Buhrmester et al. 2011; Goodman et al. 2013). Potential participants had to answer two questions before they took the survey: 1) Have you ever practiced martial arts? And 2) which types of martial arts (e.g., Aikido, Judo, Karate, Mixed Martial Arts, Tae Kwon Do, etc.) have your practiced? Only when potential participants answered yes on the first question and chose at least one type of martial arts, they were qualified to participate the current study. Otherwise, they would receive an end-survey message and the survey would automatically close.

Results

Demographics

A total of 669 subjects attempted to participate the survey, including 81 disqualified subjects, and 588 qualified martial arts practitioners. Of the 588 practitioners, there were 401 males and 187 females. The ages ranged from 18 to 64 with an average age of 29 years (SD = 7.19). More than 46% of the participants practiced Karate. Other martial arts types included Judo (21.4%), Taekwondo (17.2%), Jujitsu (16.8%), Kung Fu (11.2%), and Mixed Martial Arts (10%). Nearly 42% of practitioners practice 1–3 h/week, about 34% practice 4–5 h, 15% practice 6–7 h, and almost 9% train 8 or more hours. Almost 70% of practitioners indicated that they have had at least one injury. More demographics were described in Table 1.
Table 1

Martial arts information and demographics

 

Injury rate (%)

Frequency (n)

Percent (%)

Martial arts’ types

 Karate

73.1

271

46.1

 Judo

70.6

126

21.4

 Taekwondo

57.4

101

17.2

 Jujitsu

63.5

99

16.8

 Kung Fu

80.3

66

11.2

 Mixed martial arts

80

59

10

 Tai Chi

58

43

7.3

 Aikido

59.5

37

6.3

 Muay Thai

75

28

4.8

 Krav Maga

87

23

3.9

 Hapkido

61.9

21

3.6

 Other

41.7

24

4.1

Practice hours per week

 1–3

 

246

41.8

 4–5

 

202

34.4

 6–7

 

88

15

 8 or more

 

52

8.8

Injury times

 0

 

173

29.4

 1

 

220

37.4

 2

 

90

15.3

 ≥3

 

105

17.9

Gender

 Male

 

401

68.2

 Female

 

187

31.8

Income

 ≤25,000

 

173

30

 25,001–50,000

 

205

35.6

 50,001–75,000

 

124

21.5

 ≥75,001

 

74

12.9

Ethnicity

 White

 

241

41

 Native Hawaiian

 

10

1.7

 Native Indian

 

35

6

 African

 

52

8.8

 Asian

 

209

35.5

 Latino

 

28

4.8

 Other

 

13

2.2

Age

 18–25

 

81

18.7

 25.1–35

 

199

46

 35.1–45

 

79

18.2

 ≥45.1

 

74

17.1

Age

Max

Min

Mean

SD

 

64

18

29.52

7.19

n = 588. Some participants have practiced multiple martial arts types

Measurement model

The fit indices of the measurement model indicated an acceptable fit: \(\chi _{{( {341})}}^{2} = 562.01\), p < .0001, χ 2/df = 1.65, CFI = .96, TLI = .96, SRMR = .04, RMSEA = .03 (Table 2) (Bentler and Bonnet 1980; Hair et al. 2010).
Table 2

Fit indices of the measurement and structural models

Fit index

Recommended value

Measurement model

Structural model

χ 2/df

≤3.00

1.65

1.77

CFI

≥.95

.96

.95

TLI

≥.90

.95

.94

SRMR

≤.08

.05

.06

RMSEA

≤.06

.03

.04

The measurement model had a good internal reliability (Table 3). The values of Cronbach’s α were all higher than .70 (Hair et al. 2010) and item-total correlations were all over .30 (Nunnally and Bernstein 1994).
Table 3

Internal reliability and convergent validity of the constructs

 

Items

Internal reliability

Convergent and discriminant validity

Cronbach’s α

Item-total correlation

Loading

Composite Reliability

Average variance extracted

Quality

Qua_1

.77

.62

.79

.78

.54

Qua_2

 

.64

.74

  

Qua_3

 

.57

.67

  

Fit

Sel_1

.82

.68

.82

.83

.73

Sel_2

 

.76

.87

  

Sel_3

 

.59

.67

  

Protection

Pro_1

.78

.65

.78

.79

.56

Pro_2

 

.69

.82

  

Pro_3

 

.51

.63

  

Comfort

Cof_1

.71

.45

.51

.73

.59

Cof_2

 

.45

.96

  

Fashion

Fas_1

.79

.60

.68

.80

.57

Fas_2

 

.68

.83

  

Fas_3

 

.63

.75

  

Benefits of martial arts

Enj_1

.86

.70

.78

.86

.67

Enj_2

 

.76

.84

  

Enj_3

 

.75

.84

  

Commitment to marital arts

Com_1

.76

.55

.64

.77

.52

Com_2

 

.65

.78

  

Com_3

 

.59

.74

  

Satisfaction with current uniforms

Sat_1

.89

.76

.82

.89

.73

Sat_2

 

.82

.89

  

Sat_3

 

.77

.85

  

Expected performance

Fun_1

.83

.69

.79

.83

.62

Fun_2

 

.71

.81

  

Fun_3

 

.66

.76

  

Expected appearance

App_1

.74

.58

.73

.74

.50

App_2

 

.58

.72

  

App_3

 

.52

.65

  

Purchase intention of new uniforms

Int_1

.90

.73

.78

.90

.65

Int_2

 

.73

.78

  

Int_3

 

.80

.85

  

Int_4

 

.79

.85

  

Int_5

 

.71

.76

  
The measurement model also had a good convergent validity (Table 3): All factor loadings were greater than .50; composite reliability of all constructs were over .70; and the average variance extracted of all constructs were higher than .50 (Hair et al. 2010). In addition, each construct also had a good discriminant validity (Table 4). The square root of the average variance extracted for each construct was bigger than its correlations with any other construct (Fornell and Larcker 1981).
Table 4

Correlations and the square root of AVE

 

Mean

SD

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Quality

5.17

1.13

.73

          

Fit

5.15

1.24

.57

.85

         

Protection

4.99

1.28

.44

.44

.75

        

Comfort

5.02

1.31

.39

.37

.25

.77

       

Fashion

4.17

1.52

.07

.13

.43

−.12

.76

      

Benefits

5.50

1.18

.62

.45

.35

.44

.02

.82

     

Commitment

4.71

1.28

.34

.31

.37

.19

.41

.46

.72

    

Satisfaction

5.31

1.22

.64

.60

.40

.45

.17

.45

.28

.85

   

Performance

5.53

1.17

.72

.26

.56

.53

.01

.62

.33

.48

.79

  

Appearance

4.56

1.35

.14

.19

.56

−.06

.70

.15

.50

.21

.13

.71

 

Intention

5.00

1.28

.31

.28

.46

.23

.43

.38

.39

.34

.49

.47

.81

Bold and italic number indicates the square root of AVE

Benefits benefits of martial arts, Commitment commitment to marital arts, Satisfaction satisfaction with the current uniforms, Performance expected performance, Appearance expected appearance, Intention purchase intention of new uniforms

Structural model and hypotheses results

The structural model had satisfactory levels of fit indices: \(\chi _{{( {355})}}^{2} = 639.68\), p < .0001, χ 2/df = 1.8, CFI = .95, TLI = .95, SRMR = .04, RMSEA = .04 (Table 2; Fig. 1). Thirteen out of 18 hypotheses were supported (Fig. 1). According to Floyd et al. (2012), standard path coefficient values between .05 and .14 indicate weak associations, between .15 and .24 indicate moderate associations, and above .25 indicate strong relationships. Therefore, satisfaction with current uniforms was strongly influenced by quality (H1a: β = .37, p < .0001) and fit (H1b: β = .28, p < .0001), and moderately influenced by comfort (H1d: β = .24, p < .0001) and fashion (H1e: β = .16, p = .002), supporting hypotheses H1a, H1b, H1d, and H1e. The four attributes together explained 52% various in satisfaction with current uniforms. However, protection (H1c: β = −.02, p = .71) was not related to satisfaction with current uniforms, rejecting hypothesis H1c.
Fig. 1
Fig. 1

Structural results. Solid line indicates significant path; dashed line indicates insignificant path. *p = .05, **p = .001, *** p = .0001

Quality (H2a: β = .45, p < .0001), protection (H2c: β = .25, p < .0001), and comfort (H2d: β = .28, p < .0001) all significantly and strongly influenced expected performance, supporting hypotheses H2a, H2c, and H2d. The three apparel functional attributes accounted for 66% variance in expected performance. However, fit did not influence expected performance (H2b: β = .07, p = .31), rejecting hypothesis H2b.

Protection (H3b: β = .26, p < .0001) and fashion (H3c: β = .67, p < .0001) strongly and positively influenced expected appearance, supporting hypotheses H3b and H3c. Together, the two attributes accounted for 72% variance in expected appearance. However, fit did not influence expected appearance (H3a: β = −.03, p = .56), rejecting hypothesis H3a.

Benefits from martial arts uniforms, protection (H4: β = .30, p < .0001), and benefits of martial arts (H3b: β = .35, p < .0001), strongly affected commitment to martial arts, supporting hypotheses H4 and H5. Together, the two variables explained the 29% variance in commitment to martial arts uniforms.

Expected performance (H7: β = .37, p < .0001) and expected appearance (H8: β = .39, p < .0001) both strongly influenced purchase intention of new uniform, supporting hypotheses H7 and H8. The two variables accounted for 39% variance in purchase intention. However, satisfaction with current uniform (H6: β = .04, p = .52) and commitment to martial arts (H9: β = .10, p = .07) did not influence purchase intention of new uniform, rejecting hypothesis H6 and H9.

Discussion

Apparel attributes and satisfaction

Confirmed with previous studies (Dickson and Pollack 2000; Lamb and Kallal 1992; Mitchka et al. 2008), functional attributes, such as quality (β = .37, p < .0001), fit (β = .28, p < .0001), and comfort (β = .24, p < .0001) and aesthetic attributes, such as fashion (β = .16, p = .002), influenced satisfaction with current martial arts uniforms. Unlike previous studies that fit and comfort were the most important determinants of satisfaction with in-line skaters’ clothing, golfers’ uniforms, and dancewear, the current study indicated quality was the most important determinant of satisfaction. The reason might be because martial arts are very different sports from skating, golf, and dance. Modern martial arts are combat training that emphasize various offensive and defensive techniques (Woodward 2009). Therefore, durable and well-sewn uniforms are very important: a poor quality uniform may be torn when lapels or sleeves are grabbed.

However, one functional attribute, protection, did not influence stratification of the current uniforms (β = −.02, p = .71). The reason might be because the current martial arts uniforms are made from nonperformance fabric (e.g., cotton canvas) and they do not offer protective features, except when practitioners wear additional protective equipment, such as protective gloves and gum shields (Macan et al. 2006).

Apparel attributes and expected performance

Confirmed with the previous studies (Bye and Hakala 2005; Wheat and Dickson 1999), apparel functional attributes, quality (β = .45, p < .0001), protection (β = .25, p < .0001), and comfort (β = .28, p < .0001), influenced expected performance. Although protection was not related to satisfaction with current uniforms (β = −.02, p = .71), it was a desired feature that practitioners hoped to enhance their new uniforms’ performance (β = .25, p < .0001). The result suggested that a need for safe and protective martial arts practice has not been fulfilled yet. Martial arts training involves injuries, such as contusion and sprains in Judo and Taekwondo (Pieter 2005). Although protective gear is available in the market, practitioners may wear (e.g., Taekwondo) or may not wear them (e.g., Kung Fu, Judo), depending on the specific martial arts. In addition, the protective gear can reduce risks and injuries but cannot totally stop injuries (Woodward 2009; Zetaruk et al. 2005). In the current study, nearly 70% of participants had at least one injury, including both in unprotected martial arts, such as Judo (70.6%) and Kung Fu (80.3%), and protected martial arts, such as Taekwondo (57.4%) (Table 1).

Interestingly, practitioners satisfied with fit of their current uniforms (β = .28, p < .0001), while practitioners did not think fit can increase expected performance of new uniforms (β = .07, p = .31). Although fit is important in many sportswear, the details of a well-fitting garment differ by sport (Dickson and Pollack 2000). Unlike dancewear (Mitchka et al. 2008), martial arts uniforms are usually not well-conformed to the wearer’s body; but instead, the uniforms have a loose shape in order to offer more space for mobility. Therefore, practitioners do not need to have close-fitting uniforms to enhance their performance.

Apparel attributes and expected appearance

Confirmed with previous studies (Bye and Hakala 2005; Jin and Black 2012), fashion strongly influenced expected appearance of new uniforms (β = .67, p < .0001). In addition, protection strongly influenced expected appearance (β = .26, p < .0001). Therefore, participants not only like a fashionable appearance, but also like to have a protected appearance.

However, again, fit was not related to expected appearance (β = −.03, p = .56). Fit may be a critical element that influences appearance of a garment (Bye and Hakala 2005), but it was not a desired appearance for martial arts practitioners. The standards for appropriate dress for a particular sport are drawn from sport history and tradition (Dickson and Pollack 2000). Traditionally, martial arts uniforms do not display a close-fitting image. Therefore, a close-fitting appearance was not a desired appearance for martial arts practitioners.

Factors influence commitment to martial arts

The significant relationship between benefits and commitment in other fields was demonstrated in martial arts: benefits from martial arts uniforms, protection (β = .30, p < .0001), and benefits of martial arts (β = .35, p < .0001) strongly affected commitment to martial arts. Consistent with the previous studies (Ju et al. 2009; Kuo and Feng 2013), benefits played important roles in commitment to martial arts. Therefore, practitioners’ long term commitment to martial arts was decided by whether they enjoy martial arts and whether they are protected from injury.

Factors influence purchase intention of new uniform

Expected performance (β = .37, p < .0001) and expected appearance (β = .39, p < .0001) both strongly influenced purchase intention of new uniforms. The results supported previous research that athletes have dual needs for their uniforms: both functionally enhancing performance and aesthetically increasing physical appearance (Wheat and Dickson 1999).

However, satisfaction with current uniforms (β = .04, p = .52) did not relate to purchase intention of new uniforms. Previous studies reported that the satisfaction with a product before consumption was not related to repurchase intention of the product, because consumers’ expectations were changed after using the product (Yi and La 2004). The current study indicated that satisfaction with a product after consumption did not influence purchase intention of the new product either. Practitioners changed their standard when considering buying a new one. For example, they were satisfied with their current uniforms without protection. However, protection was a feature they expected to have in their new uniforms.

In addition, commitment to martial arts did not influence purchase intention (β = .10, p = .07). This result contradicted previous findings that when consumers commit to a sport they are willing to buy special designed clothing for the sport (Dickson and Pollack 2000; Mitchka et al. 2008). There might be an unidentified factor that influences relationship between commitment to a sport and purchase intention of the sportswear. This factor might be trust, which is an important antecedent of commitment (Morgan and Hunt 1994). Trusting martial arts and then committing to martial arts do not mean that practitioners also trusts the new martial arts uniforms. In the current study, practitioners knew their current uniforms did not offer protection and they hoped the new uniforms would offer protection. However, do they really trust the new uniforms can offer enough protection? Previous study also suggested that trust is an antecedent of purchasing (Yoon 2002). Therefore, with an uncertain trust about the new uniforms, commitment to martial arts only had a weak and insignificant association with purchase intention of the new martial arts uniforms.

Conclusion

Drawing from the FEA model’s functional and aesthetic considerations, the current study developed a modified model to investigated martial arts practitioners’ satisfaction with current uniforms and purchase intention of new uniforms. The modified model incorporated various factors: functional attributes, aesthetical attributes, and satisfaction with current uniforms; expected performance, expected appearance, and purchase intention of new uniforms; and benefits and commitment of martial arts.

The results indicated that martial art practitioners were satisfied with their current uniforms as long as the three functional attributes were good: quality, fit, and comfort. The aesthetic variable, fashion, only moderately influenced satisfaction with current uniforms. However, to buy new uniforms, both functional and aesthetic attributes were strong and necessary conditions.

In addition, benefits of martial arts and being free from injury are two necessary conditions for commitment to martial arts. However, commitment to martial arts did not influence purchase intention of new uniforms. Satisfaction with current uniforms was also not related to purchase intention of new uniforms, further supporting that practitioners have different standards related to satisfaction with their own uniforms and purchase intention of new uniforms. Purchase intention only related to the new uniforms: whether the new uniforms can enhance practitioners’ functional performance and aesthetic appearance.

Implications

The current study provided both theoretical and practical implications. This study was the first study to investigate martial arts uniforms from the consumers’ perspective. It filled a research gap about consumers’ satisfaction with their current martial arts uniforms and purchase intention of new uniforms. In addition, by developing and validating the modified model, this study provided a theoretical foundation for future studies of sportswear.

This study also provided practical insights to guide apparel companies. This study, for the first time, revealed martial arts practitioners’ strong desire for protection. Product developers should develop better protective gear which can offer better protection and reduce the high risk for the martial arts that require protective gear (e.g., Taekwondo). Marketing managers may also consider creating protective gear for the martial arts that usually do not require protective gear (e.g., Kung Fu and Judo). In addition, purchase intention was only related to the new uniforms’ functional and aesthetics aspects. Therefore, firms should develop new uniforms that can enhance practitioners’ performance and appearance.

Limitations and future studies

The current study had several limitations. First, the current study investigated all martial arts uniforms together. However, the practitioners’ uniform needs in Mixed Martial Arts may be different from Judo, for example. Future studies may examine a specific uniform. Furthermore, the current study indicated martial arts practitioners wanted to be protected. Future studies may examine protective equipment from consumers’ perspective. In addition, to further understand practitioners’ needs and concerns with martial arts uniforms, an in-depth interview study should be conducted.

Notes

Declarations

Authors’ contributions

AP collected data, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. JL provided critical comments to improve the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

All authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Colorado State University, 1574 Campus Delivery, Gifford 313, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1574, USA
(2)
Mississippi State University, 258 Lloyd-Ricks-Watson Bldg., Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA

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Copyright

© The Author(s) 2017

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