Quality means different things to different people, depending on their perception of the value of a product under consideration and their expectations of performance and durability of that product. Websters defines quality as essential nature; a trait, characteristic; superiority, relatively considered. The American society for Quality control (ASQC) defines quality as a systematic approach to the search for excellence.
According to David Garvin, a Harvard expert on quality, there are eight dimensions of quality: performance, features, reliability, conformance, durability, serviceability, aesthetics and perceived quality. Fitness for use should be judged from the customers point of view and not from either the manufacturers or sellers perspective.
The fitness for use concept can be applied to garments also. For a garment to be fit for use provided its style is acceptable.
- It must be free from defects such as stains, material (fabric) defects, open seams, loose hanging (untrimmed) threads, misaligned buttons and button holes, defective zippers and so on.
- Must fit properly for the labeled size.
- It must perform satisfactorily in normal use, meaning that a garment must be able to withstand normal laundering / dry cleaning / pressing cycles without colour loss or shrinkage, seams must not come apart, fabric must not tear and so on.
Also, quality is a reflection of customers opinion on the value they see in your product compared to that of your competitor. Having some idea of what quality is, let us look at some of the factors that influence customers perception of quality. The factors are:
Price: Customers tend to associate quality with higher price. There is some evidence that price is used by shoppers in quality estimates and that for some products consumers estimates of quality are affected by price.
Technology: This indicates factors such as fabric seam strength, colour fastness, shrinkage and other properties that are affected by the state of technology in the industry.
Psychology: A garment can be reasonably priced and the best that technology can offer, but if it is not attractive in appearance, if it is not fashionable, if it does not meet the aesthetic requirements of customers, then it is not a quality garment.
Time orientation: This indicates durability. Of course the importance of durability varies with categories of garments, that is childrens garments are expected to be more durable that ladies high fashion garments.
Contractual: This refers to a product guarantee, the refund policy of a store, and so on.
Ethical: This refers to honesty of advertising, courtesy of sales personnel and so on.
If you can positively influence any one or more of the preceding factors, then you will be able to increase the quality of your product in a customers mind and he or she will most likely come back to buy from you again.
About the Authors
The authors are Senior Lecturers in Department of Fashion Technology, Kumaraguru College of Technology, Coimbatore