Socio-economic and Psychological factors influencing clothing preferences of the physically handicapped in Nairobi province, Kenya
Marinda, Pamela Ayiera
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The purpose of this study was to identify the clothing preference of the physically handicapped, and to determine the rating of socio-economic and psychological factors influencing these clothing preferences. This was a survey research that was undertaken among a sample of 120 physically handicapped persons from six institutions in Nairobi Province. Stratified random sampling methods was used to constitute the study sample. Data for the study were collected using an interview schedule and observation checklist. They were later analysed using the Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS) programme. The Chi-square technique was used to test for significant differences in selected categorical variable at alpha level P<0.05. The study revealed that most respondents had formal education but only a handful of them had formal employment. Their clothing preferences also varied their nature of disability. They selected clothing styles that could meet their physical needs with regard to fit, ability to dress themselves and ease of care and mobility. They also selected clothing items in which they looked attractive, and those that conformed to fashion trends since these contributed to the enhancement of their self-esteem. Other findings indicated that the respondents preferred second-hand clothes and tailored ones. Reasons given for this preference was that the former were cheaper were of good quality and had unique styles, while tailored clothes fitted well. Income available was rated highest among the socio-economic factors influencing respondents' clothing preferences. The least rated factor is that which is acceptable to age mates. The aesthetic value was found to be the most influential of all the psychological factors as far as clothing preference was concerned. Uniqueness of the item, prestige and popularity of the brand name; and to impress others respectively were the least influential factors. In all the psychological factors, female samples were influenced more than thermals while in clothing preference by age; mature adults were influenced more than the adolescents and young adults. There were significant differences in some socio-economic factors that influenced clothing preferences by age group with mature adults being influenced more. Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made: a) Apparel manufacturers and designers in Kenya should create basic design patterns for disabled persons, which can be altered or adapted to meet the specific needs of the physically handicapped persons. This concept of designing from basic designs in apparel industry may add new designs in apparel industry may add new dimensions to consumerism for the disabled people in Kenya. b) To initiate a home-based business focusing on the clothing adaptation and alteration because disabled persons find shopping a difficult task. Desired clothing styles could be marketed through catalogues. c) Training for caregivers, home economists and health professionals on clothing needs of the disabled. d) Addressing factors that cause dissatisfaction with the locally available clothing among the physically handicapped.