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Digital Printing Fuels Speed to Market

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Fast is the new black in fashion today and many brands are turning to digital printing to help them respond to an increasingly want-now market.

Before digital printing came on the scene, it wasn’t only harder to put concepts to cloth, but the time it took to turn a custom design, or inspiration from art, into print on fabric delayed the development process.

Now, however, digital printing has become not only a platform for translating innovative ideas, but an avenue for fueling faster fashion as it’s quick to produce and can be done in short runs.

“Because of the trend for the fashion industry, everybody is asking for fast fashion and they don’t want to keep much stock because they’re expecting to have a short sales cycle,” said Jia Jun Qiao (through a translator), general manager of Jucai, an exhibitor in the Digital Printing Zone at Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics.

The company has a design team of close to 10 that create new, original designs every day. For Autumn/Winter 2017-18, Jucai is showing new takes on floral, paper cut out concepts and sketched landscapes inspired by Chinese ink art.

“When the designer makes something, they want to do it very fast as they’ll be more competitive if they have more trendy patterned fabrics to the market faster,” Qiao said.

At Digitex USA, another exhibitor in the zone, watercolors, florals with digitized effects and multicolor geometrics are key elements of the American company’s nearly 50,000 total designs. Digitex designers put out roughly 450 designs—a mix of original and some purchased from French and Italian studios—each month, and can produce 50,000 meters per day.

“With more competition, everyone wants to get everything more fast,” Digitex’s Suhail Al-Awadi agreed.

To accommodate that, the company keeps regular ready-for-print fabric in stock and takes the risk of preparing 10 to 20 different fabric bases for print to ensure quick delivery.

Nine Colors, a high-end and cutting edge digital printer, is committed to popularizing the technology in China. The company specializes in reactive digital printing on mercerized and pure cotton, rayon and wovens.

He Fu Li, marketing director at Nine Colors, said there’s been an uptick in digital printing for menswear as trends turn toward more creativity in color and pattern.

“With digital prints you can create more patterns and designs, which suits menswear,” Li said through a translator. “Digital printing is unlike traditional because there’s more print variation. And if you give customers more, they have more to choose from.”

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