- Throughout history, there have been many examples of political figures who have influenced fashion: from Theodore Roosevelt to Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Companies have taken advantage of the influence that political figures have as fashion opinion leaders, even going so far as to purchase keywords such as "Michelle Obama" on search engines such as Google and Yahoo (Clifford, 2008). The purchase of these keywords ensures that the company will pop up as a result when such names are searched. Surprisingly though, little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of political figures as opinion leaders of fashion and apparel items.
Consumers go through several steps in ultimately choosing a product. The EKB Model of Consumer Decision-Making suggests that internal and external factors influence this decision-making. Source credibility suggests that the source's characteristics affect how a consumer will accept their message (Ohanian, 1990). In the context of the EKB Model of Consumer Decision-Making and Fashion Diffusion Theory, the relationships between consumers' political attitudes, the source credibility of the
political figure and attitudes toward apparel worn by the political figure have been examined.
Based on previous literature, hypotheses were developed. It was hypothesized that similarity of political attitudes between the consumer and the political figure would have a significant relationship with the perceived source credibility of the political figure. Also, that perceived source credibility would have a significant relationship with attitude toward apparel worn by the political figure. In addition, it was hypothesized that perceived source credibility would have a mediating role in the relationship of political attitude and attitude toward apparel. Lastly, additional analyses were done to test the effect that gender would have in a moderating role in the relationships between political attitude, perceived source credibility and attitude toward apparel.
The survey method was employed in conducting this research. Surveys were conducted in an online format, which resulted in sixty nine respondents. Several different statistical tests were run to analyze data, including Cronbach's Alpha, MANOVA, ANOVA, Multiple Regression, Linear Regression and Pearson's correlation. Though not all hypotheses had statistically significant results, it is important for retailers to consider the influence that political figures have on fashion items endorsed. As hypothesized in this study, a consumer's political attitude effects perceived expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness. Additionally, a consumers' political attitude has a direct effect on attitude toward apparel worn by a political figure. Due to this, retailers need to be aware of the impact that political endorsers have on their apparel. Though there are some useful theoretical and managerial implications as a result of this study, future research is needed to further explore these relationships and the impact that they have on the apparel industry.