By Melissa Donovan
In February, Digital Output was invited to attend the inaugural Epson Digital Couture event held during New York Fashion Week in New York City, NY. The company, through a collaboration with a fashion agency that regularly represents designers who participate in Fashion Week, introduced its SureColor F-Series dye-sublimation (dye-sub) technology to 11 designers.
These creatives were asked to provide collections based on a theme—the future of fashion—which were then showcased during the Digital Couture fashion presentation. The result, a kaleidoscope of colors and patterns made possible thanks to digital dye-sub.
Epson worked remotely with the designers—three of which were located in the U.S. out of CA, FL, and NY—leading up the event to create the textiles used in their collections. According to Catalina Frank, product manager, professional imaging, Epson, the logistics of coordinating with the designers was one of the more challenging parts of the experience.
Epson, a Long Beach, CA-based company, asked the designers to submit sketches of their work to be reviewed prior to the print process. There was a learning curve, notes Frank. The majority of the designers weren’t familiar with digital dye-sub and they submitted designs that utilized solid color. Many times, the Epson team presented the designers with feedback on best use of the technology, educating them about the possibilities of creating their own textures and patterns.
“The designers learned they no longer had to feel dependent on who is supplying their fabric. They realized they can make their own fabric, with their own designs instead,” explains Frank.
For example, U.S. designer Maggie Barry usually works with leather and solid colors. The Epson team helped her create fabrics that included gradients of gray and color. U.S.-based design team, ESOSA—made up of Emilio Sosa and David De La Cruz—typically create designs with physical embellishments. After working with Epson, they created a textile that mimicked those. And Leonor Silva, the final U.S. designer, was excited to create her very own lace-like pattern.
Once all of the fabric designs were approved, Epson printed the final files. Each region worked with designers to produce their collections locally using dye-sub printers onto Epson transfer paper. The images were then transferred to the fabric, a polyester synthetic fiber.
In total, more than 2,000 yards of fabric were printed—each designer received about 200 yards. The final yardage was sent to every individual designer to create their collection for the fashion event in NY.
Walk the Runway
Held in the West Village at Industria Superstudios, the Epson Digital Couture fashion show attracted hundreds of onlookers from numerous backgrounds—fashion, design, and press—who were all captivated by the endless possibilities of digital technology.
“Many people couldn’t believe all of the fabric designs came out of a printer and were curious as to how the entire process all worked,” adds Frank.
Epson constructed a technology lab on site to demonstrate the process for the curious onlookers. The Epson SureColor F2000 printer was up and running, creating direct-to-print t-shirt designs. An Epson SureColor F-Series F7170 was displayed, but stagnant.
The actual fashion show was a success. Frank describes it as a bit chaotic behind the scenes, but in a good way. Interacting with the multiple personalities of the designers and working with such a diverse group of people was an exciting conclusion to the months of hard work leading up to the event.
All 11 of the designers showcased three complete looks—so a total of 33 were presented during the Digital Couture fashion event. Frank said many of the designers took the digital dye-sub theme even further by contributing to their looks with footwear and other accessories that were also created with dye-sub.
With the future of fashion the assignment, Frank was impressed with the many different interpretations. Not one designer created the same graphic or ensemble. She credits the variety to the potential of digital dye-sub.
“The Digital Couture event provided a venue for each designer to apply new design freedoms that fall outside of their traditional fabric imaging techniques, allowing them to create with a new trend of synthetic fabrics and short-run digital imaging technology,” says Frank.
Making a Statement
Epson continues to receive inquiries regarding the event. Frank says organizations from all types of backgrounds from retail to educational institutions have contacted her with piqued interest. One of the designers from Mexico who participated in the event has already purchased an Epson SureColor F-Series printer for himself and plans to start a dye-sub line.
Frank credits the Epson technology to contributing to the legitimization of digital dye-sub printing in textiles. With the company’s history in photography and the graphic arts, its background in the research and development of its products allow it to be in a prime position to educate up-and-coming designers and launch a new fashion statement.
Digital Output will continue to report on the newest advancements in textile printing technology that make events like the Epson Digital Couture fashion presentation a reality.
Apr2015, Digital Output