Looking Back on the 2010s

Robert Zoch
December 31, 2019


Two Kornit Experts Weigh in on How the Imprinted Apparel Market Has Evolved in 10 Years

Part I: The Slow and Static Decorators Were Screened Out
By Sharon Donovich, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Kornit Digital

A decade ago, fashion brands were showcasing only two collections per year, but that is no longer the case. The emergence of e-commerce and social media created a new type of customer that expects new and exciting custom designs constantly, produced sustainably and in their hands the next day. The textile industry had to adapt to the shorter lifecycle of today’s supply chain, translating to shorter print runs and faster turnaround—something impossible when relying solely on 2009’s production methods, especially screen printing.

In order to improve time to market and profitability, screen printers have supplemented their operations with digital textile printing, which eliminate the time and labor cost of building screens, effectively reversing the “supply and demand” business model to one in which the customer buys the product before it is produced, which can now be done quickly and without inventory waste.

Sustainability has moved to the forefront of consumer consciousness, and the textile industry has taken greater effort to reduce its environmental impact.

Automation has been a major disruptor this past decade, and the textile print industry is no exception. In their case, the demands of training and maintaining qualified personnel have made for challenging times; it can take up to one year to fully train a new printing professional, the fundamentally dirty conditions of screen printing often lead to high turnover rates, and the demanding pace of screen printing also drives turnover. Where traditional screen printing is a mature and stagnant market, the growth of cleaner, ever-innovative digital print technologies offers a more attractive and thrilling career path for digitally-minded Millennials.

Part II: How the Digital Print Market Responded

By Geoff Baxter, Director of Strategic Business Development, Kornit Digital Americas

The state of digital print technology is advancing and evolving at such an amazing pace that it can be nearly impossible to distinguish from magic.

Pre-2010 inkjet textile printers were painfully slow, and the images they produced often resembled an impressionist painting more than the original photograph or drawing.

In the years since that time, however, a number of manufacturers have thrown their proverbial hats—or t-shirts—into the direct-to-garment ring. The quality of print produced by these new machines, as well as an almost unimaginable amount of improvements in the original product offering, have thrust digital into the accepted mainstream of garment embellishment.

It must be said that direct-to-garment printers are not a replacement for screen printing, but an alternative means of imprinting apparel. These printers are perfect for medium to short runs and multi-color images, and their ability to print on dark substrates—now including polyester and poly blends, in the case of Kornit’s Avalanche Poly Pro—sets them apart from the limited systems of a decade ago. Most digital print manufacturers have addressed the challenge of printing to dark by offering some type of white print feature, with varying degrees of success.

Digital printers can allow you to accept orders that could not have previously been accomplished at a competitive price point, while affording an acceptable level of profitability.

Considering how far we’ve come, it should be quite interesting to see where the digital print market leads us in the coming decade!