Touch in Text. The Communication of Tactility in Fashion E-Commerce Garment Descriptions

Ornati, Michela (2021) Touch in Text. The Communication of Tactility in Fashion E-Commerce Garment Descriptions. In: Sádaba, Teresa and Cominelli, Francesca and Kalbaska, Nadzeya and Cantoni, Lorenzo and Torregrosa Puig, Marta, (eds.) Fashion Communication. Proceedings of the FACTUM 21 Conference, Pamplona, Spain, 2021. Springer, Cham, pp. 29-40. ISBN 978-3-030-81320-8

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Touch is central to the embodied experience of material garments. Passive touch sensations convey how dress feels on the skin, and active touch enables the perception and appreciation of its material properties, as the term “fabric hand” aptly implies. In fact, the subjectively perceived tactile attributes of materials have been described and categorized into ad hoc lexicons by means of sensory evaluation research procedures involving both expert and non-expert panellists. These vocabularies provide a semantic framework for the description of garment materials from a consumer perspective. Thus, they can also serve as an interpretative lens for how tactility is communicated to online viewers. However, a pragmatic, qualitative investigation into a representative sample of popular fashion e-commerce websites indicates that references to touch within garment page descriptions are sparse. Given e-commerce’s relevance for fashion brands, improving communication of touch in text presents opportunities.

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