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Suited and Rebooted – Why digital technology is a good fit for garment decoration

Written by: Debbie McKeegan, Textile Ambassador – FESPA

It’s a good time for the textile printing business. Just take a look at FESPA Global Print Expo 2018, where 17% of the 700 exhibitors displayed a range of systems designed specifically for the textile sector, including high profile brands such as EFI, Epson and Mimaki.

There’s no doubt about it – textile printing applications are offering significant potential for growth and, with more tech solutions being launched to market, wide format graphics producers are now looking to invest in digital textile printing capability.

Garment decoration in particular is an area that opens up a wealth of opportunities for print service providers (PSPs) looking to diversify their offering and take their first steps into the world of textile print. Screen printing may still be a highly popular decoration technique for specific items – such as t-shirts – and can be used on large quantity runs, but direct-to-garment (DTG) also has so much to offer.

By using digital inkjet technology to print directly onto garments, DTG enables PSPs to capitalise on one of the strongest commercial trends running through the textile industry: personalisation and custom manufacturing. With garments accounting for most of the output in textile, digital technology is key to unlocking creative decoration with bespoke projects, especially when compared to traditional screen printing.

With personalisation, the product is no longer personal just because of the printed image, but also because of the chosen fabric. Custom manufacture allows companies to produce larger quantities of products, but the designs can be tailored to produce a bespoke product. It can also be used at any scale, whether it is one metre or 1,000 metres broken up by 10 or 20 designs for a single store, or different products for different stores through the same brand. Not only does the end customer get a custom product, they also get it at a lower cost. For PSPs, this means being able to deliver highly tailored designs for a specific order, or producing a range of garments for a fashion brand’s seasonal campaign, for example.

The upsurge in demand for custom manufacturing and personalisation is fuelling the growth of numerous textile print shops (also known as ‘print bureaus’) around the world and it’s not hard to see why. Combined with web-to-print (W2P) software and user-friendly e-commerce platforms, digital textile printing represents an attractive proposition for ambitious start-ups that could go on to landing more substantial volumes. And a big part of this projected success is down to the continued innovation of digital textile print machinery, where prices and speeds cater for all needs.

With digital technology’s capability to support agile production models and highly tailored designs, there’s no doubt that it will continue to be a disruptive force in fashion. For this reason, it’s an exciting time for PSPs and textile printers to be exploring the possibilities that garment decoration has to offer.

Textile will be a key focus area at FESPA Global Print Expo 2019 (14 – 17 May, Munich, Germany) where over 170 exhibitors will showcase their latest solutions in textile printing and garment decoration.

For visitors interested specifically in the opportunities in printed fashion and garments, FESPA’s interactive fast fashion factory, Print Make Wear, will return and double in size compared with FESPA 2018 following an extremely positive visitor response.

The expanded feature will allow more space to showcase an even wider range of garment printing technology solutions and consumables, as well as incorporating a staged area for presentations and debates and a catwalk for fashion shows.

Visitors will be also able to take part in guided tours of Print Make Wear, one focused on direct-to-garment production and another on roll-to-roll.

To register, please click here. Use code FESM917 for free entry.