Kelly’s (2016) WEAR Scale was constructed based on the statements derived from relevant literature, expert reviews, and consumer interviews. This scale originally included multiple dimensions (i.e., aesthetics, availability, consequences, ergonomics, functionality, judgements, norms, others’ reactions, others’ thoughts, self-identity, and qualities of the device or the wearer) using 97 items. The final scale, containing 14 items in two redefined dimensions—fulfillment of aspirational desires and absence of social fears, was validated for the use of wearable devices (e.g., Apple watch, Google glasses, and Bluetooth headsets). However, no items in this 14-item scale were related to aesthetics or functional attributes of the wearables, which are important when people wear clothing or its related items on the body. Although Kelly (2016) introduced the WEAR Scale, the author did not explicitly provide the descriptions of each dimension. Personal communication with the experts in the apparel field resulted to further validate the scale starting with the extended 57 items in 11 dimensions from Kelly’s (2016) study. In this study, we first redefined these 11 dimensions, as illustrated below.
Dimension 1: Aesthetics
Aesthetics refer to the visual attractiveness of a product in design (Hekkert 2006) and hold a symbolic function that influences how a product is understood and evaluated (Bloch et al. 2003). Creating aesthetics in developing the appearance of a product leads to enhance usability, durability, image of elegance, innovation and positive user experience (Forty 1986). Aesthetics influence consumers’ perception and are essential to wearables to enhance their physical attributes with colors, designs, trends, and styles (Dickson and Pollack 2000). The unique design of wearables can help consumers easily recognize these products in the crowded marketplace (Schmitt and Simonson 1997; Wasik 2014).
Dimension 2: Availability
Availability is described as the amount of inventory that provides the response to customer demands anytime or anywhere without high costs (Jones and Chung 2008; Kelly 2016). A low level of product availability provides reduced inventory holding costs, but may result in a failure in consumers’ acceptance and loss of present and future sales (Jones and Chung 2008).
Dimension 3: Consequences
Consequences are described as benefits that can help people by adding comfort and convenience to individuals or society (Kelly 2016). A wearable device not only causes people to embody the clothing and its symbolic meaning in the natural environment of the person and the public, but also has significant systematic psychological and physical impact on and behavioral consequences for wearers (Kelly 2016; Lilley 2009; Vanclay 2003).
Dimension 4: Ergonomics
Ergonomics is presented as comfort and fit of the body interacting with the device and is connected to users’ acceptance of the product (Kuru and Erbug 2013). Ergonomics is necessary and valuable for the product design and establishing criteria for creating wearable products in order to adapt these products to achieve positive user experiences (Kuru and Erbug 2013).
Dimension 5: Functionality
Functionality is an important consideration in designing wearable products so they can be accepted by consumers (Bodine and Gemperle 2003). Ajzen and Fishbein 1972 mentioned that it is also associated with appropriate function for performance, usability (wearers’ impression of effort required to use the application as connected to its functional and expressive qualities), and usefulness (wearers’ perception of performance).
Dimension 6: Judgment
Judgment, the societal perception and judgement of personality features and social status, leads to certain behavioral or judgmental responses through nonverbal communication based on individuals’ perceptions and cognitive processes (Davis and Lennon 1988; Douty 1963). Group pressure causes conformity with fashion judgements, shown to be influenced by judgement ambiguity and reference groups (Davis and Miller 1983). Therefore, the successful acceptability of wearables is variably linked to positive judgements from other consumers (Kelly 2016).
Dimension 7: Others’ reactions
In the WEAR Scale, this dimension refers to actions that may be carried out by others when they see other individuals wear a wearable device or smart apparel; in this circumstance, other people’s reactions serve as feedback on the social acceptability of the action in public (Goffman 1990). This societal reaction causes an individual’s feeling, attitudes, beliefs, and negative or positive experience about the social acceptability of wearables (Rogers 2003).
Dimension 8: Others’ thoughts
Others’ thoughts refer to a form of nonverbal communication received from others (Davis 1984; Kelly 2016). Wearing apparel can contribute to the symbolic meaning of apparel and the physical experience of wearers. This has significant and systematic psychological and behavioral consequence for the wearers (Adam and Galinsky 2012).
Dimension 9: Norms
Social norms are illustrated in unstable perceptions and spontaneous situations rather than being deliberately planned, unwritten, and enforced informally (Sherif 1936). Subjective norms refer to “an individual’s perception of how important others in his or her social environment wish or expect him or her to behave in a certain way” (Moan and Rise 2006, p. 719). Social norms have a great effect on users, peers, and others’ environments when considering the adoption and usage of technology (Dickinger et al. 2008; Kleijnen et al. 2004). Thus, it is required to understand the interaction among technological innovation, user’s concerns, and social norms when designing and evaluating a wearable product (Tene and Polonetsky 2013).
Dimension 10: Self-identity
Self-identity (expression) is a complex multidimensional concept with several components, including integrated image of a person’s self-image, distinctions from other people, and understanding of and beliefs about oneself (Bernstein et al. 1994; Carson and Butcher 1992). For example, clothing or footwear may play a role in establishing one’s identities. Different types of wearable products affect consumers’ perception of self-identity and their potential to improve a desired self-image (Nieroda et al. 2018). According to Solomon and Panda (2011), self-product congruency for product adoption is related to establish user’s self-identity. Thus, wearables should be designed considering with both consumers’ self-image and product image.
Dimension 11: Qualities of the device or the wearable apparel
The quality of a product helps explain how users define the relation between ergonomics and interface features, and how clearly the product’s purpose is communicated (Kuru and Erbug 2013). Researchers have found that quality affects the perception of wearables, aesthetic, expressiveness, interactivity, usefulness, and technological appeal (Kuru and Erbug 2013; Pal et al. 2019). Quality features of wearables (e.g., product safety, functionality, usability, wash-ability, privacy) also have the greatest impact on consumer satisfaction (Fortmann et al. 2015).
In Kelly’s (2016) study, six main dimensions, 14-items WEAR Scale, were validated: self-identity (five items), consequences (five items), reactions (one item), norms (one item), thoughts (one item), and judgements (one item) for the following three wearable devices: Apple watch, Google glasses, and Bluetooth headset. However, each dimension did not contain enough items as a measurement model for wearable products. In addition, the social acceptability of smart apparel may be addressed by other dimensions of the WEAR Scale beyond the above six dimensions validated in Kelly’s study. In this study, therefore, these 11 dimensions introduced by Kelly (2016) were redefined and navigated to determine key factors that play an important role when consumers socially accept wearables, especially for smart apparel.
Apparel designers, developers, and manufacturers should pay careful attention to social acceptance of wearables, here smart apparel, when designing and developing new products in order to fulfil consumers’ needs and demands. However, little research exists with regard to wearable technology embedded products to examine their social acceptability when new smart apparel is ready to the market. Therefore, a predictive instrument for measuring wearables’ social acceptability is needed to better comprehend the key dimensions that play an important role for potential users of smart apparel.
To evaluate the social acceptability of smart apparel, it would be useful to have a measurable tool for practical application as well as theoretical foundation for academic research in fashion, product development, and/or interdisciplinary of those. In this study, we defined “wearables” as smart products (e.g., smart clothing and smart footwear) integrating information technologies and/or wearable computing devices that can suitably, easily, and comfortably be worn on the human body. Consequently, the existing 14-item WEAR Scale (Kelly 2016) needs to be revisited and validated to understand the factors affecting the social acceptability of smart apparel, here smart clothing and footwear. When designing and developing smart apparel (e.g., gloves, underwear, vests, hat, and socks), the evidence-based measurement scale presented in this current study would be a useful means to examine the social acceptability of smart apparel. We also hope this revised WEAR Scale can be integrated with other consumer behavioral concepts to develop an emerging theoretical framework for the studies on smart apparel in the fashion discipline.