In their first exclusive for WhichPLM, Kornit Digital discusses the benefits of digital and direct-to-fabric printing, using an topical example: swimwear. Kornit Digital develops, manufactures and markets industrial and commercial printing solutions for the garment, apparel and textile industries.
So, you are a rock star swimwear designer. Your mind is filled with ideas and your brain is bursting from creativity. You are ready to make a strong fashion statement. In every corner of your life it hits you, sometimes from the most unexpected sources: the magazines you flip through at the barber shop, the great patterns you just saw at that apparel store, and even the vivid colors on your lunch plate at your favourite restaurant. Inspiration is everywhere when you live the textile and fashion life.
Until recently your inspiration was influenced by several known fashionistas that led the market and decided what trends will rule. Today, as social media has made fashion accessible and open to all, there are no specific and limited fashion tone-setters. Anyone can become an icon and influence your designs. A blogger who spread his idea to millions online or a famous actress who shares her latest look on Instagram can have a greater impact on today’s designs. As we consume our fashion in a new way, technology needs to adapt. While digital printing technology is not new, its utilization and adaptation to the new fast fashion market is. Fashion used to be controlled by the long print cycles dictated by print manufacturers. A typical cycle from start to finish took an average of 8 months! Today it can take just 8 days or less!
For each summer, swimwear designs and trends used to be determined during the winter or even the fall of the previous year. Designers had to “guess” what would be the popular trends, colors, patterns, and fabrics a year in advance. How do you capture the feeling of what can dominate the swimwear fashion ahead of time? Will your assumptions from last year still be relevant or dated this year?
Luckily, you don’t have to agonize over these dilemmas anymore. Times have changed. Technology, cultural shifts and social media have all made a huge impact on the swimwear market and can make your wildest design a reality in no time.
[Swimwear design by Magrafti Odelia, student, Shenkar – Engineering, Design, Art. Printed by: Kornit Digital]
First, let’s look at the lifecycle of your swimwear line. The biggest challenge of offering trendy fashion, one that will not go out of style before it hits the rack, has shifted the printing technology from mass production to mass customization. This move has dramatically shrunk production cycles from 6-12 months to as short as just a few days, and small printing quantities and even personalized designs are gaining popularity. The design, production and final apparel are all done domestically in one location with no need to preplan volume of stocks at overseas sites. Inventory and transportation costs are cut. With an on-site direct-to-fabric printer, it’s possible to print fabric on the same day that it will be cut. You can even have a pattern printed directly on the fabric. There is no need to predict trends and there is no risk of getting stuck with overstock worth billions of dollars. Limited editions of even a single print enables fashionistas, designers, retailers and print manufacturers to respond to the wildest on-the-fly desires.
Starting to get the feel of the unlimited possibilities? How about the unique color palette combinations you want to express in your new line? Sunset? Ocean hues? Tropical flowers? Or how about flamingo bikinis and pineapple swimsuits? You can have them all combined, thanks to digital printing!
Culture plays a major role in the swimwear fashion revolution. First, people no longer wait for summer to arrive to put on their swimsuit. There is no such thing as a “swimwear season”. The entire year is “swimwear season” as consumer’s holiday habits are no longer restricted to one season. Can you really pre-plan when people buy swimwear all year round? This “habit change” and availability expansion – you can now buy your swimsuit in any apparel store – has contributed to the steady growth of this market. As people consume culture through social media, we enter an era were people are more conscious about their look and demand more styles and fast fashion.
[Swimwear design by Sharaby Itamar, student, Shenkar – Engineering, Design, Art. Printed by: Kornit Digital]
Social media has changed the way we consume fashion. Retailers follow fashion leaders on social media to get inspiration for their product line, and maintain an ongoing conversation with their customers, particularly on Instagram – a forum where brands can inspire customers and where customers can inspire brands. This is a true reflection of just how much social media has shaken up the fashion sector and we are seeing the reshaping of an entire industry.
The new consumer-oriented marketplace is forcing manufacturers to move from a pre-planned mass production approach to a demand-driven mass customization approach, and it made its mark in all segments of the textile market. Designers are now free to develop limited edition swimwear lines based on, and inspired by, the colors and patterns of their beaches, landmarks and wildlife that surrounds them. Moreover, with the emergence of e-commerce into the print world, online swimwear businesses are gaining popularity. The whole buying experience has changed as designers are expanding product options and customers can now choose costume-made design to fit them with a click of a button.
Chic, colorful expression of unlimited designs and easy on-the-fly production possibilities has all made its impact on the swimwear market.
Thinking of a swimwear business? Direct-to-fabric digital printing can ease your way as you enter this path. Cost effective production process with short print runs allows you to quickly respond to any immediate fashion trends and create as many and ANY styles you feel like designing!
Can you picture uploading your colorful flamingo swimsuits to your online shop, so your customer can choose and order their flamingo to arrive at their front door the next day?