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Digital Textile Printing: Fashion’s Next Foray

(January 2018) posted on Thu Jan 11, 2018

Digital print could be the answer to the market's demands.

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By Kiersten Feuchter

The age where big-box stores like JCPenney ruled the fashion supply chain, dividing up the year into four distinct seasons, is over. Now, it’s known as the Zara model, where trends shift far faster than the weather, and the year is divvied up into 52 micro-seasons. This new paradigm is a perfect recipe for digital production, and it’s likely to stick around a bit longer than man buns or fidget spinners.

So, why aren’t fashion designers flocking to digital print providers yet?

“I think the technology is exactly where it should be,” says Celeste Lilore, former marketing and community director at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA). (Editor’s note: Lilore held this post at the time of her interview with Big Picture.) “Some designers are already using it, but it’s a question of greater awareness and education as to what the existing services are, who the existing providers are, and being able to connect those.”

BF+DA hosted the Simple + Sustainable Textile Printing Seminar in conjunction with Mimaki in August of 2017. The event welcomed a total of 45 attendees across five small-group sessions led by Mimaki’s Ryosuke Nakayama, manager of textile and apparel business development and marketing, and David Lopez, specialist textile and apparel, business development and marketing. Mimaki also demonstrated its TX300P-1800 direct-to-textile printer with direct dye sub and textile pigment inks. Lilore says the attendees ran the gamut, including large fashion designers, textile sourcing professionals, emerging design talent, students, and large-format textile printers.

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Lilore says designers “are looking for greater access to proprietary prints, because it’s a point of differentiation for them.” We all know that bespoke goods are the name of the game these days, but it’s that question of access that’s currently troubling the fashion world. It’s not easy to go out and buy a piece of high-tech equipment like a wide-format printer – especially in cities like New York where real estate is a luxury.

Jacob Smith attended the BF+DA event and had a realization: “Wow. We can be such a resource for these people.”