Apparelist Hosts First-Ever Apparelist Forum
On Oct. 19 during PRINTING United Expo, folks interested in digital textile printing — direct-to-garment and direct-to-fabric — gathered for the first-ever Apparelist Forum. The hour-and-a-half event featured lunch, education from Kornit, and a panel discussion on the opportunities and “whys” of digital printing.
Nearly 65 apparel decorators and printers looking to expand their businesses sat in on the forum, hearing from Don Whaley, vice president of marketing at Kornit. He shared several key highlights about digital printing, including how digital production has “gone mainstream” and why digital production makes sense.
Digital Production Goes Mainstream
“The sand is shifting under our feet,” Whaley shared. What does that mean? He says e-commerce is continuing to grow in addition to self-expression and social media driving fashion for consumers. Additionally, he noted that near and on-shore focus is increasing — a space where digital production can be brought closer to home and make an impact, which also speaks to the sustainability piece of digital production. With this technology, printers, designers, and brands can keep low to no finished inventory, sending less garments to the landfill, which already takes on 17 tons of textile waste per year.
Why Does Digital Production Make Sense?
Whaley noted several reasons why he feels digital production for textiles makes sense, including:
- Endless virtual variety
- Low/no finished goods inventory
- In-season reactivity: With nimble production, printers, brands, and designers don’t have to predict what’s going to be in trend. They can quickly react to current trends.
- Consistent retail quality and unique applications
- Durability and soft hand-feel without the setup
- Sustainable: He noted that 30% of apparel produced never gets sold due to overproduction.
“Inventories are the enemy,” Whaley said. The shorter run is growing, and there’s more demand for customization in addition to merch and promotional products. He noted that digital printing adds that flexibility. “It creates a more nimble platform,” he shared.
The second half of the session featured a user panel discussion where Milton Mendez, president of Mendez Printing; Stacey Wharton, chief production officer at Nineline Apparel; and Mohamed Jamal, president/CEO at Georgia Trading Post, shared how digital printing is working in big ways for their businesses.