Hashtags are a potential tool for fashion designers

Kristen Stewart attends the Chanel Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 22, 2019 in Paris, France. (Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Social media data can help fashion companies determine upcoming trends and if celebrity endorsements are working, research shows.

According to the research, fashion designers could use hashtags as a tool to forecast trends in the industry and better connect with consumers.

“We know that people talk and are interested in fashion, so it makes sense that they talk about it on social media,” says Li Zhao, assistant professor of textile apparel management in the University of Missouri’s College of Human Environmental Sciences. “The data presented in this study show that designers should listen to what they are saying about trends on social media.”


Zhao and coauthor 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.

The researchers searched for tweets featuring #ParisFashionWeek and #PFW and created social networks. For example, Zhao 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, and #art.

Celebrity influencers

Zhao also was able to tell how celebrities were influencing brands based on the social networks. Kristen Stewart and Katy Perry were two celebrities that showed a large influence for the Chanel brand during Fashion Week, giving Zhao reason to believe that the two celebrities are effective influencers for the brand.

“Consumers are using ‘electronic word of mouth’ during Paris Fashion Week and other major fashion events.” Zhao says. “Fashion researchers and designers can listen to what they are saying to understand the direction of fashion trends and to understand how consumers are engaging with fashion brands.”

The work appears in Clothing and Textiles Research Journal. In future research, Zhao hopes to investigate how social media users with different geographical locations discuss the same fashion event.

Source: University of Missouri