Digital Printed Fashion Fabrics Break Billion Sq Metre Barrier

0, 0

In her second piece for WhichPLM in 2018, resident digital printing expert Debbie McKeegan shares the success of digitally printed fashion. Debbie is the CEO of TexIntel – an expert advisory practice serving the Creative, Digital and Print Textile manufacturing Industry.

The fashion industry is no stranger to disruption, and it's facing a global reform. Driven by consumer trends, it's now struggling to cope with the Fast Fashion business model it created. In order to remain profitable, the market must now produce multiple, season-less collections on demand and that's no easy task for large and small companies across the globe.

Without digital printing technology this wouldn't be possible. Digital print is one of the key drivers within the sector and it's pushing the market place forward at an accelerated rate, as the availability of digitally printed fabric print providers, or companies printing inhouse booms so will diversity within the fashion market.

Digitally printed fashion fabric has broken the one billion sq metre barrier this year, and is forecast to double over the next three years. Whether the business model is the high volume fast fashion, used by Zara and H&M for example, or the low volume model that "niche" brands such as Mary Katrantzou benefit from, the message is the same:

Also Read  SPGPrints Launches New Products, Reveals New Brand Ambition

"Give your customers what they want, and give it to them quick." The implications of this change in both the consumers expectation of the fashion industry, and the purchasing responsibility for the fashion buyer, are profound, as product held in stock for too long becomes like food that is past its sell by date: worthless. The advent of digital textile printing was a boon to those who recognised these trends and applied the benefits early.

Built for speed, and fast fashion, digital print machinery can offer an incredible print capacity of 4,000 metres per hour. Digital print technology now equals the print speed offered by the rotary screen process and with new efficient manufacturing, volume print prices offered per square metre have also tumbled, with many print providers now offering digital print at the same price as rotary for large meterages. This has been a game changer in the fashion industry built for "print on demand".

But it's not all about speed – slow fashion demands the same versatility offered by the digital process, with smaller meterages, and a requirement for "print on demand", no stock, and a local supply chain. With this machine manufacturers have been quick to spot a new and almost infinate emerging marketplace.

For the SME's machines printing at speeds from 30-200 sqm per hour offer an affordable option for fabric printing. As demand has grown so has the clients awareness of process and we see a boom in digital print providers, offering the designer low volume, high quality print with minimum lead times. In the fashion-world production workflow which now includes 3D modelling, computerised cutting and robotic sewing machines, digital textile printing is an integral component.

Also Read  Sustainable Apparel Coalition To Pause Use Of Higg Index Following NCA Report

Machinery prices alongside meterage have been tumbling, and nearly all the major digital print manufacturers now offer entry level machines at prices little above the price of a fitted kitchen from B&Q. This has added tremendous impetus to the fashion fabric market and there has been a huge growth in small designer/maker businesses with many predictions stating that this growth will continue unabated over the next three years.

Online sales are booming and with courier services providing an efficient delivery channel, the emphasis on speed to market has been growing. As an example, recently, Amazon has installed digital textile printing machinery as an experiment to see just how fast they can service demand for fashion products. Yet, without doubt, emerging small fashion brands, with their lightness of foot, up to date fashion sense and minimal overheads are ideally placed to take advantage of this scenario.

Also Read  NIKE x PIÑATEX® Happy Pineapple Collection Wins PETA Fashion Award

For the designer/maker sector, the growth of online retailing and the direct to consumer model, means that most of these products will be sold through user created online shops, with low overheads and minimal stocks, thereby limiting the risk to the budding entrepreneur. There has been an explosion of these brands, as designers become aware of the opportunities afforded to them through the digital print process. Many would say that this is the lifeblood of the fashion industry, providing a vital seed bed of new talent, challenging established trends with new and inventive approaches to the age old challenges of design, colour and price. Textile digital printing has opened up new opportunities for upcoming entrepreneurs, which will push the market toward the 2 billion square metre barrier. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.