Research Highlights - March 2019

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According to new research from Professor Li Zhao of the University of Missouri, social media hashtags could be used as a tool by fashion designers to forecast trends in the industry and, thereby, connect better with consumers.  The study titled, “The rise of fashion informatics: a case of data-mining based social network analysis in fashion,” was recently published in the Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.

Data analytics are impacting all kinds of business, including the fashion industry.  This research found that social media data can help fashion companies discover how communities are connected to their brands.  This can help them determine upcoming trends and if celebrity endorsements are having the desired impact.

“We know that people talk and are interested in fashion, so it makes sense that they talk about it on social media,” Zhao said.  “The data presented in this study show that designers should listen to what they are saying about trends on social media.”

Zhao and co-author Chao Min, a researcher at Nanjing University in China, created a series of social networks based on hashtags people used on Twitter before, during and after Paris Fashion Week. Social networks are a way to understand the relationships or links between distinct social media content-users, sentiment and ideas.

For example, by searching for tweets featuring #ParisFashionWeek, they found tweets about hand embroidery connected to tweets about Fashion Week, establishing an association between the technique and users interested in haute couture.  Other keywords related to couture emerged within the social networks, such as #handmade, #elegant, #art and #PFW, the researchers were able to find relevant social media content. They used the tweets to create social networks.

The researchers also were able to tell how celebrities were influencing brands based on the social networks.  Two celebrities were shown to have a large influence for the Chanel brand during Fashion Week, giving the researchers reason to believe that those two celebrities are effective influencers for the brand.

They concluded that fashion researchers and designers can listen to what people on social media are saying to understand the...

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