'Cosmopolitan Couture' Showcased at Epson Digital Couture Event
When you think of printing, you may not immediately think of high fashion, but the third annual Epson Digital Couture event held this month leading up to New York Fashion Week, proves that digital textile printing has its place on the runway. Thirteen design teams from across the Americas came together in New York City on Feb. 6 to showcase the capabilities of Epson's digital textile printing technology for an evening of education, information and best of all ... fashion.
The event kicked off with an introduction by Keith Kratzberg, president and CEO of Epson America, who explained immediately prior to the event that 25% of textile production is currently being done digitally, and that it is continuing to grow at a significant rate. The faster time to market, control and customization available at the fingertips of aspiring and veteran designers alike, are contributing to the rapid adoption of the technology. The growth is especially evident from the investment in the technology across the industry, as well as Epson's newly launched microsite featuring information and educational resources for digital print providers and fashion designers.
To better understand the business side of textile printing and design, Anthony Cenname, VP and Publisher of Wall Street Journal Magazine, moderated the Fashion and Technology Forum panel, which included Mark Sunderland, director Global Fashion Enterprise at Thomas Jefferson University; Ryan Korban, interior designer; Aliza Licht, executive VP, brand marketing and communications for Alice + Olivia; and Anna Fusoni, fashion analyst/critic.
The panel covered everything from design and process, to the effects of social media on the fashion industry. Interestingly though, the panel agreed that digital textile printing opens up opportunities for designers to broaden their horizons.
"With digital printing, it's a whole new world," Fusoni said. She explained that in Mexico, where she is based, many young, aspiring designers are able to hone in on what they want by experimenting with designs they may not have been able to produce without access to digital printing.
It's not just the flexibility and affordability that digital textile printing provides that is a draw; it's the turnaround time.
"There is no substitute for being able to print on a fabric and see how it draws ... all within an hour," Sunderland said. The technology gives designers the ability to work with and manipulate textiles on-demand.
The beauty of digital textile printing is that it is in its infancy and the possibilities are nearly endless. The technology will continue to evolve and, as it does, "We will grow with technology," Licht pointed out.
'Cosmopolitan Couture' Takes the Stage
After the panel, models took the floor to showcase the innovation and precision executed by Epson technology. The designers were tasked with bringing their style and culture to life based on the theme "Cosmopolitan Couture with Impossible Colors - How Does Your Culture Dress-Up?"
Patricia Franklin, a designer and fashion design and business student at Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) - a school that has access to Epson technology - explained to Printing Impressions that TJU students are able to design and test textiles in-house, which gives designers the ability to test textiles until they come out the way they were intended.
The biggest challenge is understanding the fabrics that you can use with dye-sublimation technology, she said, because polyester fabrics tend to work best, as opposed to natural fabrics. Another challenge is making sure that the finished product matches the design, but Franklin said that having a center with Epson technology makes it so that students don't have to accept what they create on the first try.
"When you're working large-scale with engineered print, sometimes it doesn't appear as nice large-scale as it does condensed on your [computer] screen," she said. "It's important when you're working on prints that you can do a lot of tests without having to continuously send it out."
The inspiration behind Franklin's (and Alexandra Pizzigoni, her fellow designer from TJU) came from the idea of color perception and "in-between colors," or colors that are difficult to perceive with the human eye, coupled with imagery from space, including wormholes and linear vortex lines.
Each designer brought a completely different energy and feeling to the show, experimenting with colors, patterns, structure and fabrics, including velvet, which was incorporated into U.S.-based designer Candice Cuoco's pieces, who told Epson, "Sublimation printing lets me bring my art to life without compromising my vision. Instead of relying on existing fabrics, I can let my imagination run wild, creating any print or pattern that I can dream up. It costs nothing to dream and Epson has allowed me to forever dream now with eyes wide open."
Seeing digitally printed art in real life was one of the many reasons that attendees traveled to NYC, but Epson America CEO Kratzberg summed up the other reasons so many wanted an opportunity to attend the show.
"Epson is a global technology innovator," he noted during his opening speech, "and our greatest aspiration is to help create new markets, including digital on-demand fabric. New markets require much more than printing technology; it takes a community that is a full-solution ecosystem. And that's why we're here today. To make connections, to talk solutions, to get educated and to visualize the results."