By Kacey King
Dani Locastro and her team at First2Print (first2print.com) were ecstatic when well-known fashion designer Michael Angel came to them to digitally print his clothing collection for showing at New York’s Fashion Week.
"My team … covers the gamut from the costume industry to textile design," says Locastro, First2Print’s director of operations. "We understand fabric as a medium and how you have to put together the technical to fit the aesthetic. We don’t look at textiles as 2-D-we have to understand the three-dimensionality of the fabric and how it’s going to be made."
Angel stumbled on First2Print in the very beginning of his journey into digitally printed textile collections. "I set up a meeting and it was a done deal," he recalls. "When the swatches came back, I finally saw my vision and art become a reality. Print providers in the past had told me that it was impossible to transfer my images onto fabric, but the first response from First2Print was ‘I love it. We can do it.’"
All of Angel’s designs were digital from the start; he worked in Adobe Illustrator to create the digital files. "Each season I start by thinking of what I want to say-a concept," says Angel, "then I create all the artwork, visualizing the collection." Once the designs were complete, Angel created garment "silhouettes" that work with his patterns, since each printed panel is custom engineered so that no pattern is repeated. For this particular New York Fashion Week collection, his design time was six weeks.
To produce the digitally printed textiles (see pg. 24 for a sample), First2Print used acid dye inks in the shop’s Mimaki TX2-1600 Textile Jet printer (2 x 8-color), in combination with a DigiFab RIP with built-in color management. Pretreated fabrics in silk charmeuse, silk chiffon, shiny nylon tricot, silk satin, and silk jersey were used in the collection.
Post-processing followed output, says Locastro: "Post-processing is always required if we are printing with acids and reactive inks-this requires steaming in either of our units, a Jacquard SteamJet or our industrial Rimslow steamer. And washing is required to eliminate the pretreatment and any extra dyes that don’t bond to the fabrics. The post-processing phase is critical in making the fabrics meet the standards set by the AATCC (American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists) for manufacturers and retailers."
The First2Print staff of 16 took four weeks to complete the job, making sure every print was exactly as requested from Angel-who had sat down with First2Print to discuss garment sketches and fabric choices prior to printing.