Fashion is a notoriously helter-skelter business. One minute a look is in, and very quickly, it is out. Style trends come and go, but there is a revolution transforming the fashion industry that will have a significant and lasting impact.
The game-changing development that is shaking the industry is digital textile printing.
This is opening up new possibilities in the fashion world for apparel, accessories and furnishings, giving designers free rein to pursue their creative vision. A manufacturer can now produce everyday wearables alongside high end fashion in customised quantities and from interior furnishings including curtains and sofa covers to accessories such as tote bags and shoes.
Designers are limited only by their imagination and gives them the perfect method to transfer their ideas to fabrics and bring their creative vision to life.
The technology is a welcome boost for an industry where a rapid response to unrelenting consumer demand for fresh innovative design is essential.
No barriers to creativity
Traditionally, designs are printed on fabric using silk-screen printing – a costly and labour-intensive process where it can take weeks to produce a single order and there are large minimum yardages required before printing can get under way.
Digital textile printing, on the other hand, allows for fabric to be printed quickly, in remarkably small runs and from a cost perspective. The process is often cheaper than screen printing and improvements in inks have led to longer-lasting, crisper prints.
Not only that, designs need not be limited to those we’re used to seeing, repeated across the garment in a limited number of colours. Textile designers today have absolutely no barriers to their creativity.
Designers are already using digital photography and technology such as Photoshop in the creative process. They can now set their creative talents loose on any source material that contains an image, graphic or pattern or create their own images to incorporate into unique designs.
Another boon for the designer is that there is no constraint on colours.
Screen-printed textiles typically average six to eight colours at most. With digital textile printing, there is literally no limit to the number of colours that can be used. The digital process also works with a wide range of fabrics, from the polyester family to cotton blends, lycra, silk, nylon and other materials.
Epson in style
Recent runway shows and major store displays demonstrate how high-end brands have embraced digital printing technology. And printing technology leader Epson is offering them significant support.
Renowned fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto has collaborated with Epson on many occasions to combine traditional Japanese design with ultra-modern styles. “A number of new technologies have presented valid alternatives to the traditional Japanese crafts … I would include Epson’s textile printing in the top class of these technologies”, he says.
Working to exacting standards, Epson spent four weeks reproducing his studio’s designs with specialist Genesta inks on the Monna Lisa textile printing system developed by Epson-owned Robustelli of Italy, and on Epson’s SureColor SC-F7170 series and SurePress FP-30160 textile printers.
In Malaysia, Epson has collaborated with renowned New York-based designer Zang Toi to produce outfits featuring ‘wayang kulit’ designs, inspired by the traditional puppet shadow play found in Indonesia. “Fun with technology has never been more fashionable. I think that the high quality digital textile printing will ultimately replace the silk screen printing for the mass market”, he says.
In another high-profile collaboration, Epson partnered with Philippine designer John Herrera to produce a 30-piece digitally printed collection inspired by the great Philippine eagle. This was showcased at London Fashion Week, and contributed to him winning Britain’s Top Designer 2017.
“It’s been a dream of mine – and most designers in fact – to be in control of the whole design process: from producing the fabric design, to choosing the fabric and printing it and creating the finished outfit”, he says. His collection “would be impossible to create without the Epson digital textile printer.”
Digital textile printing delivers the up-to-date, distinctive, personal styles that designers are thrilled to create – and today’s demanding, individualistic customers want.
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