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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 2, 2021

What do hashtags afford in digital fashion communication? An exploratory study on Gucci-related hashtags on Twitter and Instagram

Olga Karamalak EMAIL logo , Nadzeya Kalbaska and Lorenzo Cantoni
From the journal Semiotica


Being enmeshed in a digital environment, we daily produce internet-mediated texts – encompassing several different semiotic codes – accessible on a global scale. Posts on different networks usually contain hashtags, which can be understood as affordances or behavior opportunities. These affordances allow specific actions both from the part of the writer and the reader. They can also be “behavior triggers,” which invite certain behavior online (e.g., to like, share, comment) or offline (e.g., to buy items of a specific brand). Digital fashion communication experts should take into consideration these affordances to pursue their goals in the activities related to marketing, promoting, creating engagement and communicating either about a brand or a brand item. While there is general research on reasons to hashtag and on the functions they perform, there is a gap in what hashtags “mean” and “do” in the fashion domain. The objectives of this paper are threefold: 1) to give an overview of the history of hashtags; 2) to present the affordances of hashtags, while creating a general table of affordances from the addresser’s perspective, based on the literature overview; 3) to perform a qualitative analysis of hashtags on Gucci official Twitter and Instagram accounts during a given time span and on other Gucci-related hashtags posted by common users. The choice of the brand is due to Gucci’s focus on active digital communication practices. Results can be valuable for both researchers and industry professionals involved in digital fashion communication.

Corresponding author: Olga Karamalak, HSE University, Moscow, Russian Federation, E-mail:


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Received: 2019-10-28
Accepted: 2021-05-11
Published Online: 2021-11-02
Published in Print: 2021-11-25

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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