How digital prints are taking over the runway...

Everyone should know about Basso & Brooke - a young London based brand known for their wild love of colour and bold experimental prints. The first thing you will find out if you google them is that they are big on digital prints. Just look at their collections on style.com and you’ll see why they have this reputation.

I’ve illustrated one of my favorite dresses from their recent SS 2010 runway show. I really like the cool and unpretentious style, paired with the wild original print. It is vivid, artsy, futuristic, and very very pretty. See a photo here.

And on a related topic, I began to notice that more and more digital prints are popping up on the runway those days. It seems that digital prints are becoming common in the fashion world, as several established designers have incorporated digitally printed looks into their luxury collections. For SS 2010, those brands include: Alexander McQueen, Helmut Lang, Matthew Williamson, and of course Basso & Brooke.

Also, several newer brands that include Peter Pilotto, Michael Angel, Krystof Strozyna and Mary Katrantzou are gaining reputation for their signature digital prints.

So I wanted to know more about what digital prints are all about and why they are so popular with the designers.

I found out that digital printing for textiles is a fairly new process and its technology is still being improved and enhanced. Definitely lots of potential and innovation going on here... The biggest advantages of digital printing are that it is very fast, cost-effective, low on waste (i.e. the hot words: “environmentally friendly”!!) and most importantly has limitless artistic potential. Wow, I am sold already!

The traditional method for fabric printing is using rotary machines. This requires metal rollers to be engraved with the design, and if multiple colours are needed then several customized rollers for each colour are used. Those rollers are then mechanically pressed onto the fabric to create print.

In comparison, digital prints have unlimited colour possibilities that give the designer total freedom and creative control. There is a lot of flexibility during production and the designer can even change the design during a print run. Time savings are huge because digital printing can be complete in hours and not weeks as with the traditional method, for a similar amount of fabric. And we all know that speed is very important in the fast paced fashion industry!

Overall, digital printing is a straight forward process that only needs 4 ingredients: CAD software, printing machine (think printer like inkjet for paper, but instead for fabric), high quality ink and finishing treatment:

1. The designer develops the digital print in CAD
2. The image is sent directly to the printer
3. The ink is transferred to the fabric
4. The fabric is processed by fixing the ink, washing and application of finishing treatments


Expect to see more interesting digital prints on the runway in the seasons to come, and when you do, impress the fashionistas around you with the fashion techie babble you just picked up!

1 comment:

Thanks a lot for your comments!