Digital Textile Print = Fast Fashion, Re-shoring & Sustainability

zaralogo.himage Digital textile printing is rapidly evolving to fulfil a unique role in the fashion supply chain.

When talking to a number of leading manufacturers who are exhibiting at InPrint, particularly Kiian and Huntsman,  it is clear the value that digital technology brings the European textile market.

Huntsman's Marco Zanella talked to us about 'Fast Fashion'. The ability to respond quickly to local demands and local taste. These days, for the sake of cost control, it isn't always a good thing having your textile print production facility in India or China. It is almost impossible to respond quickly enough to the commercial opportunity that a new trend offers, particularly one that is broken through via Youtube and the youth of today require it yesterday!

Fashion collections are no longer broken into 4 neat seasons. Trends are now 'broken' on-line. And leading fashion brands are having to respond quickly to this by changing how they make their product and how they meet this demand. This means adopting new technology and being flexible with their designs and stock control.

When talking to Alessandra Borghi at Kiian, she echoed this trend along with adding that this has led to an increase in business for local European textile printers. It is refreshing to hear a story where technology makes it economically viable to fulfil a need for more print production in Europe.

Digital textile production is doing exactly that. The trend towards mass customisation within the fashion industry is pushing demand towards production that perfectly suits digital. For fashion, sportswear and personal clothing, it is clear that a 'one size fits all' approach is less desirable for some.

Take leading retailer Zara for example. By relocating their production base back to Spain and focusing on producing clothing locally and more sustainably, is giving rise to an increase in demand for digital textile print from Europe's apparel printers as we as an increase in demand for digital textile ink for sustainable sublimation that is printed locally.

For KIIAN Group, this means business growth, with an increase of over 23% for their digital inks.

"The continued evolution of digital textile printing means more and more production is returning to Europe to be localised to the retail source, and closer to the end customer. Despite a big shift to globalisation, for some applications, it just doesn't make sense for retailers to produce all of their product on an entirely different continent. And it is clear that there are subtle differences of fashion across Europe, making it sensible for more local production to serve this demand. It just makes sense, the speed to market is increased and it is economically compelling, whilst being more environmentally friendly." Concludes Borghi.

For a retailer, this means lower stock inventory, shorter turnaround, and super quick production speed from designer to shop floor. The more local a supplier is with digital textile print capability, the greater the performance and flexibility can be achieved. If a line of clothing isn't selling, then with digital textile print, you can just change that line, without the need to introduce a reduction sale which ultimately loses you money and depreciates brand value.