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Epson's printers weave high-fashion with advanced imaging technology

Why it matters to you

Digital imaging technology, like Epson's printers, can drastically alter the way clothes are made -- and even bought.

For the third year, Epson returned to New York City, participating in the famed Fashion Week. The company held its Digital Couture project at the IAC Building in Manhattan, blending fashion and technology at the seams.

When one thinks of Fashion Week, high-end clothing comes to mind. So what business does a printer company like Epson have with the runway? Digital Couture is Epson’s showcase demonstrating how its technologies can be used to churn out the vibrantly colorful ensembles for the colorful clothes that were also on display. Alongside models was a SureColor F-series industrial machine, which uses dye-sublimation printing technology to heat-transfer patterns onto fabric. There was also a SureColor F2000-series machine, a direct-to-fabric (DTF) inkjet printer that’s ideal for small businesses as it can apply patterns and designs straight onto fabric, like T-shirts and hoodies.

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Working with the theme of “Textile Stories,” 13 designers and design teams from North and Latin America participated in Digital Couture, contributing pieces that were made using either dye-sub or DTF printing. Epson says its digital imaging technology offers designers “versatility and productivity” in producing original styles.

The event was also the debut of the Robustelli-Epson brand. Robustelli is an Italian digital inkjet textile printer maker, which Epson acquired in 2016. Together with For.Tex, a textile ink provider that Epson bought in 2015, Epson created the Textile Solution Center in Como, Italy, “a city that is transforming itself from a traditional silk-making center to one that is leading the charge of state-of-the-art technology in fashion,” Epson says. These moves demonstrate Epson diversifying its print business into new areas – adapting existing printer technologies into new applications.

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For fashion designers, a machine like the F-series could offer a cost-effective means in prototyping samples, cutting the time it requires for an overseas factory to send samples back and forth. A unit like the F2000-series allows a local business to offer on-demand, custom T-shirt printing that it can turn around quickly. For consumers, our clothing could one day be created using inkjet technologies commonly used in document and photo printing.

Digital imaging is just one way tech is and has been seeping into fashion. Google’s upcoming Project Jacquard, for example, hopes to introduce fabric that allows people to use gestures to control their phone — like swiping the sleeve to play the next song.