Labels & Packaging
In this the second in a three part series, Duncan Jefferies, marketing manager for Mimaki's exclusive UK & Irish distributor; Hybrid Services looks at the ever growing printed textiles sector and discusses how to get the business and why this market sector is so exciting.
Mention the word 'polyester' to people and they'll think of a scratchy, crinkly fabric that typifies everything fundamentally 'wrong' with manmade materials. The reality though, couldn't be more different. Polyester is a fabric so versatile it can mimic canvas, silk and brushed cotton. It can wick perspiration from the body and then dry quickly and it can be recycled so is considered 'clean' by the buying public. It's strong enough to withstand wind and rain on top of a building, yet can be light enough to act as a light, sheer exhibition graphic. Polyester is a solution that turns preconceptions on their head and in so many forms can become a lucrative revenue stream for your company.
Digitally printed polyester is typically found in two broad areas - sportswear (as well as fashion) and soft signage. For now, we'll concentrate on the soft signage aspect as I'd imagine that's most likely to be of interest, but suffice to say, that from 2003 when England won the Rugby World Cup, sublimation printed kit has been the norm, as opposed to the exception across the vast majority of sports.
‘Soft signage’ is another term that encompasses many areas, but broadly speaking, if you consider exhibition graphics, fabric retail point of sale and flags, you're pretty much there. All of these offer a different look and feel to their alternatives (PVC banner, foam board or printed display panels, for example) and therefore have a creative advantage from the off. The creative argument for specifying a textile point of sale product, as opposed to a rigid board is obvious - why not promote, for example, ‘womenswear’ via a medium that's more closely aligned to the product? If the message you want to get across is that the product is shimmery, light and winsome, don't put the message on a piece of 4mm foam board - there are better ways to talk about it!
But there are even greater justifications for speccing a textile print. Consider the transport costs of a roll of banner, or a pallet of boards. Consider the potential for damage in transit (through no fault of your own) and then the manpower to install it. With the latest aluminium point of sale snap frames, LED light boxes and modular systems, once the unit itself has been installed, changing the graphics can be done by one person - saving your client time and money on install costs, so promoting the idea of changing the message more frequently - and therefore garnering you more business in the process.
A printed polyester fabric graphic can be shipped in a mailing bag, is almost impossible to damage by the courier and a breeze to install. The carbon footprint of moving an envelope from one end of the country to the other is relatively small and when it arrives at your customer, creases can be removed using the sort of steam iron that fashion retailers have on hand anyway.
Your customers will be investigating this - they need to be for so many reasons. Environmental policies are starting to steer retail brands to use more sustainably produced print, exhibition companies are looking at new, creative and easy to build stand designs and the leisure sector is starting to invest in decorating the outside space almost as much as the interior. You can deliver this print - and more importantly, you can start to offer this print to customers who've yet to appreciate the benefits themselves.
So - you've got the arguments; you're a creative company with great design and client skills. The next step is being able to produce this exciting new product; which we will explore in the next article.
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