Clothesare one of the basic necessities of a human being. Clothing selection isdependent on desires and requirements of an individual. Buying a certain pieceof garment can be influenced by many factors like need, aesthetics, andcomfort. Whether the reason for wearing a certain garment is due to basicnecessity, to impress someone, or to protect, comfort is a must. With theprogress of science, there is a big improvement in the quality of life, whichhas increased the expectations of users in terms of comfort in clothing, withrespect to the activities they are involved in, and the ever-changingenvironment.
Thesedemands have led researchers to explore the science behind clothing comfort andfind out what parameters are involved when it comes to achieving the comfortfit. Generally, clothing depends on age, health, environment, weather,occasion, social status, economic background, profession, religion, andterritory broadly. Judging comfort is a matter of great complexity, becausewhat is comfortable to one may or may not be comfortable to another.
Thismakes it difficult to define clothing comfort. In simple words, clothingcomfort is a state of mind when it is at its lowest. According to Prof. LubosHes, author of Thermal comfort properties of textile fabrics in wet state, "Comfortis defined as the absence of perceived pain and discomfort". Clothingcomfort is a state of satisfaction indicating physiological, psychological, andphysical balance among the person.
Thereare two main factors that determine comfort clothing: External factors like theenvironmental temperature, moisture, wind, cultural and social influences whichaffect the comfort in clothing; Internal factors such as an individualsmetabolic rate, level of activities, economic and health position, socialexperiences, and psychological situations are instrumental in establishing thelevel of comfort in clothing.
Fromall the above content it can be said, in a nutshell clothing comfort is aresult of a network of different physiological, psychological, and sensorialactivities and feelings. For instance, a bed sheet is more comfortable when theatmospheric temperature is between 20-25°C, any rise or fall in it, will causea certain amount of discomfort. Hence, a human body reacts to any rise or fallin temperature and other environmental factors that cause discomfort and thermophysiological comfort is vital for being comfortable in a piece of garment.
Thermophysiology involves the movement of heat and moisture through a fabric. Whenthe weather is cold, a human body looses heat to keep it warm, and which is whywe cover our body with a layer of clothes, while in summer wearing lightclothes, enables the body to reduce the heat. To maintain the thermal balance,body losses heat through four main mechanisms: conduction, convection,radiation, and evaporation. Fabrics need to be able to protect from wind andwater, ensure moisture permeability, and insulate in order to provide thermalcomfort.
Another element that is responsible for clothing comfort is the psychological situation of an individual. There can be innumerable psychological aspects that are responsible for clothing discomfort. However, according to Prof. Lubos Hes's studies, the following components have a lasting effect:
1. Economical aspects - resources, technology of objects manufactured, skills, political system
2. Historical aspects - using products made of natural materials, tradition, lifestyle, fashion
3. Cultural aspects - religion, habit, customs
4. Social aspects - age, qualification, social status or rank in the class
5. Individual & Group aspects - effects of fashion, trends, styles, colors, personal preferences
Since psychological factors can include many more attributes, it becomes extremely difficult to quantify and objectify as to what kind of clothing or what kind will not be comfortable to people.
The very instant one wears a garment, sensorial factors start acting and defining the comfort level of a fabric. The feel of a fabric on the skin is of utmost importance. Purchase decisions of people highly rely on the touch and feel of the fabric. The tips of ones finger are enough to feel the softness, smoothness, and elasticity, warm or cool feeling, thickness, transparency, wrinkle behavior, bending rigidity, and hand fullness of a fabric.
There are a few sensorial discomforts that can be vividly identified. Increased fabric hairiness causes a ticklish feeling, prickle caused due to a rough and stiff fabric, wet cling of a garment caused due to stickiness of sweat residue on skin, and warmth of a cloth are main reason for creating clothing discomfort. Same fabrics when treated in different ways give different degree of warmth. For instance, a cotton sheet is cool and repels heat, but a flannelette sheet, made by raising the surface of the same fabric can be comparatively warmer.
With the rise of new technologies and smart demands of consumers, clothing comfort is gaining importance. Consumers want higher quality, added value, and more functional clothes. Fashion trends and couture designer wear also need to go hand in hand with clothing comfort. Lifestyles of consumers have a huge impact on comfort and the kind of clothes they wear.
The new age consumers are more aware and desire clothes that provide comfort in all kinds of activities, they are indulged in. They want garments that are easy to care and are high on comfort. Manufacturers and garment makers need to adapt and meet these demands to keep consumers satisfied and deliver desired outputs.
Hence, understanding the science of clothing comfort can provide solutions to these upcoming challenges and can be of help to develop new products for competing in the consumer market.