How digital printing technology is changing the fashion blueprint

Hayley Elsaesser.
Hayley Elsaesser.

Digital printing technology has changed virtually every industry it’s touched. Here, Hayley Elsaesser, a Canadian fashion designer who picked up her love of fashion while living in Sydney, Australia, briefly explains how the technology is revolutionizing the fashion industry by offering designers new ways to produce fabrics locally. Elsaesser started with a simple sewing class that lead to her graduating with honours from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia – where she was also selected to participate in the L’Oreal Graduate Showcase Melbourne Fashion Week. After overwhelmingly positive feedback from the media and public alike, her brand was born. Since the beginning, her influences have been drawn from popular culture. She uses themes and elements from music, film, literature and childhood nostalgia to turn her bright, artistic designs into wearable, body-positive silhouettes.

Up until now, custom-designed fabrics had to be printed overseas to achieve the necessary economies of scale to make affordable fashions. This can take up to two months to review and approve samples, and receive the final working material. With today’s technology, designers can now print patterns on the spot. This gives designers the power to experiment, explore and create collections faster and more efficiently than ever. One line of products that can do this quickly and with high quality output is Epson’s SureColor F-Series of Dye-Sublimation Printers. With this digital fabric printing, designers can get to work creating trends – instead of chasing them.

“Whether traversing the line between high fashion and streetwear or custom designing my own fabric, freedom of expression is something I value,” Elsaesser pointed out. “I’m known for my imaginative prints and outrageous colour palette. When I design, I let my creativity flow freely and don’t like to be boxed in. Fabric sublimation allows for diversity of textures and materials, and ensures that I don’t have to limit myself in the design process. Products like Epson’s make smaller runs achievable and allow independent brands like mine to flourish.””

Epson F9370 Printer.
Epson SureColor F9370 Dye-Sub Printer.

The Canadian designer recently took part in Epson’s Digital Couture Showcase during New York Fashion Week, which invites designers across North America and Latin America to tell stories through their collections using textiles created with dye-sublimation printing technology. These technologies enable limitless design possibilities, with the result being original prints of the highest quality unique to each designer, on fabrics that convey their signature style. Digital fabric printing provides fashion designers with the ability to quickly go from prototype to full production in just weeks, with no limits on how small or large their production goals are. Previously, designers had to commit to significant volumes when commissioning overseas printing. This type of local digital fabric printing lets emerging brands produce only what they need, so they can optimize inventory – ensuring that only the styles and sizes that sell are on the racks at any given time.

Keith Kratzberg.
Keith Kratzberg.

“The future of fashion is customization – from the colours and prints, to the size and shape of garments – all on-demand,” said Keith Kratzberg, President and CEO of Epson America. “Epson’s digital imaging technology is changing the business of fashion, providing a platform for designers to print higher quality, more unique designs for customers on-demand, as well as the ability to print just in time. This Digital Couture event showcases how the design potential and impact on the fashion marketplace is limitless.”


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.