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Epson Struts Dye-Sub, DTG Capabilities

The Digital Couture Project showcases printed fashion.

Big Picture

With an eye to wooing fashion designers in the same way it has lured photographers, Epson hosted its invitation-only Digital Couture Project in February in New York City. The runway show featured designs by a dozen fashion experts who partnered with third-party printers using Epson technologies to produce their work. As fast-fashion retailers like H&M and Zara decrease the time it takes new looks to travel from the drawing board to the store floor, Epson leaders are hoping designers will take advantage of easier-than-ever digital printing to keep pace. And, they say textile manufacturers are increasingly trying to match the fabric they produce with digital printers’ requirements.

For designers, the process should be nearly seamless. “They don’t need to change the way they design,” said Fernando Urteaga, group manager, professional imaging, Epson America.

Printers used for this project scanned in designers’ sketches – one artist even sent iPhone photos. “It was so quick. The turnaround was amazing,” said Danny Santiago, who showed his Santika collection.

The SureColor F-Series of dye-sublimation printers was used for designs on polyester, while the F2000-Series of direct-to-garment printers was employed for cotton, rayon, and other cellulose materials. Spandex, silk, and other specialty fabrics were printed on the Monna Lisa printer by Robustelli, an Epson partner.

Designers at the evening event, which preceded New York Fashion Week, said advances in printing technology made them reconsider digital. “We can exactly translate to the customer how I envisioned it,” said Brooklyn-based designer Cristina Ruales, who found the price of screen printing prohibitive in the past. Because one third of her eponymous collection is produced domestically, Ruales believes digital printing could allow her to keep price points reasonable.

And digital printing can also help maintain color integrity and allow for on-the-fly changes. “I want to be able to play with the sizes, not be limited by them. I want to be able to print … as big or small as I need to without losing detail,” said designer Chloe Trujillo of her colorful – and now scalable – patterned prints.

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