The award-winning designer’s flourishing partnership with Epson is a creative collaboration that he describes as a dream come true.
Breaking away from convention
Popular television shows like Project Runway depict fashion designers working with traditional tools, in traditional settings. We see designers going to fabric stores to pick out the patterns they fancy, then we watch them head back to the studio where they meticulously measure, cut, sew and style their creations.
It’s a really beautiful craft, but can often cramp the creative process. Cue John Herrera – Britain’s Top Designer in the 2017 competition and winner at the London Emerging Designers Awards in 2015 – who is incorporating ingenious technology into his designs.
Herrera, who is based in Manila, Philippines, works closely with Epson. “My ongoing partnership with Epson is very exciting. There are so many things you can do with printing compared to just buying fabric,” he says.
Digitally Printed Fashion Collections
Moving on from his successful digitally-printed ‘Aguila’ collection in 2016, Herrera has created ‘Armada’, a stunning 30-piece women’s Spring-Summer 2018 collection. The outfits were unveiled during Fashion Scout 2017, the UK’s largest independent showcase for emerging and established design talent during the London Fashion Week.
“The inspiration for the Armada collection came from the very first map to include the Philippine islands. It was by Diogo Ribeiro and shows the world circa 1529. With the help of Epson’s digital textile printing technology, I was able to render parts of this medieval map and present designs on opaque and translucent fabrics. The combination of sheer and stiff materials with soft fabrics creates new silhouettes and will remind us of sailing to new worlds,” says Herrera.
In a nod to Spanish colonial heritage, Herrera integrated design elements of costume and fashion from the era of King Phillip of Spain, the monarch after whom the Philippines was named.
With this collection, “Herrera has gone from strength to strength”, says Chloe Davies of London’s The Upcoming culture blog. He presents “a seamless integration of a historic period inspiration to be infused with contemporary design through digitally printed fabrics.”
New technology, endless possibilities
Epson’s digital textile printing technology enables world-class designers like Herrera to achieve their artistic vision with advanced technology that understands the intricacies of fabric and design. Each piece was digitally printed with Epson’s SureColor F-series digital textile dye-sublimation printers, the SureColor SC-F9270 and SC-6270.
High quality digital textile prints are driven by Epson’s PrecisionCore printhead technology, one of the fastest inkjet delivery technologies in the world. Its print nozzles deliver ultra-precise control of ink droplets for superior image sharpness across a wide range of ink and media. The result is outstandingly vivid and unique prints.
Herrera’s Armada collection is hot on the heels of Aguila; inspired by the protected Great Philippine Eagle. The Aguila collection won Herrera Britain’s Top Designer in the 2017 competition.
The prints for that collection wowed the judges. “One said that the eagle designs that I had drawn and printed were so clear and crisp they appeared almost 3D,” says Herrera. “The collection… would be impossible to create without the Epson digital textile printer. Without them I would have had to paint the designs myself and, with only a month to prepare, it could not have been done.”
No-waste, no plastic
Herrera works with a “no-waste, no plastic” approach, and it is of paramount importance to him that he reduces waste in his work. “With digital textile printing, we only use the exact volume of fabric. Instead of wasting five yards of fabric to do a layout for a dress, we use only one-and-a-half yards of digitally printed fabric. Digital textile printing significantly cuts fabric wastage. Faster, more intelligent, almost zero wastage – that’s what Epson brings to the table,” he says.
New and innovative digital textile printing technology by Epson allows designers like Herrera to achieve their artistic vision while having control over the whole design process from producing the fabric design, to choosing the fabric, printing it, and creating the finished outfit.
Handiwork is a large part of the fashion industry – from sketching and sewing, to assembling outfits by hand – and it should always be at the heart of what designers create and reflect the soul of their designs. But as Herrera passionately believes, technology can help with the intensely creative process.
Consider the days of the needle and thread, before the invention of sewing machines. Today, many a designer, and probably most of us as well, would probably grimace at the thought of sewing together an entire outfit by needle. In the future, designers will probably look back and grimace at the thought of how they used to bring their design ideas to the finished garments.
“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,” says Herrera. “Epson has enabled me to realise this dream. And I’m not going back now.”
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