Printing with a difference - Digital Fabric Print
A new digital printing business was established in Sydney just over 18 months ago when its founder recognised an opportunity in the market. Amy Davies, who had learnt the printing process while working at a swimwear company, started operating from a premises in the Sydney suburb of Caringbah without a single guaranteed client for her first day in business.
"I thought there was a market and I might as well take the risk," she says. Davies set up a website and started completing the smaller jobs that she was attracting using the Roland printer she had purchased. "After three or four weeks, I had committed clients who were placing repeat orders for our digital dye sublimation; printing to paper and then, heat transferring to fabric," she says.
Davies identified swimwear labels as her key target market and also chose to offer a fabric design service as part of the fledgling business. These choices are beginning to pay dividends. The business is about to move into new premises in the same Sydney suburb of Caringbah after Davies purchased a second Roland machine due to the growing demand.
Four of the company's five major clients are swimwear businesses. Davies is convinced swimwear holds significant potential for local printing as a number of businesses continue to produce these garments in Australia. "Everyone who prints here, who uses our service, is making their swimwear in Australia," she says. And she cites building relationships with students as important for the future of the company. "Students will go into the industry and can become our contacts," she says. "We might print their final range for them and then, they'll be working somewhere next year and might think about us."
As well as catering to the major clients that operate medium-sized businesses, she continues to work with smaller customers who request one-off printing or short runs.
And she is convinced that issues surrounding quality offshore are convincing swimwear labels to retain their printing in Australia. Davies recounts stories she has heard of offshore printers providing fabrics in non-matching colours, particularly for bulk stock. "The Lycra® companies come up with their colours for the season and the designers want to match them," she says.
A variety of swimwear labels have been seeking out the skills Davies brings to fabric design. "They give me the ideas and I translate them," she says. "We can do technical designs if required and we can prepare packages they can use for their makers."
Davies, who previously sold her own swimwear label at markets in Sydney and designed for several Australian companies, points to a versatile design arm of the business that can cater to end customers of varying ages and style preferences. Her observations include that prints with a vintage flavour, the 'retro' look, are 'in' at the moment. "These might include vintage stripes in muted colours while elsewhere, animal prints are always popular."
The business is operating with two wide-format Roland printers for digital dye sublimation as well as a large roll press. Two part-time employees assist Davies with this venture.
"This is quite a clean process which allows us to get the colours correct, to make sure the final print is the same quality as the sample," she says. There's no limit to the colours that can be used." The firm prints on polyester-based Lycra® fabrics which, she claims, are developing rapidly and becoming more sought after as a result. "Polyester-based Lycra® fabrics are starting to look and feel like silk and cotton," she says.
Davies is convinced she is building a business that has year-round potential. While Christmas is more often a quieter period, she notes companies are requesting fabric be printed throughout the year. Many businesses operate with different production schedules which works well for her operation which is able to cater to those that choose to print well in advance of a season as well as others who place their orders closer to market cycles.
Within the next three to five years, Davies hopes to have purchased a third digital printing machine and she anticipates the technology will become more advanced during that period so that she can offer other options at a less expensive cost. "Hopefully, printing direct-to-fabric, rather than on paper first, will become less expensive," she says. "And I hope that printing onto natural fibres will also be cheaper and more accessible."
But for now, she is pleased the company has found a ready market with clients that seek repeat business as the firm develops at a significant speed. "I believe we're growing because we're small, building up slowly and gaining a reputation," she says.
Vintage-inspired prints and classic cuts are the signature of a new swimwear collection released by Summer & Salt.
Designer Cate Young enlisted Digital Fabric Print to print the selection with 80 per cent of the range made up of rashies for men, women and children with sun protection a major focal point of the label.
"Everything about our product is Australian apart from the base cloth, which comes from Italy," she says. "It's really important to me to do the printing in Australia and to keep the range made here. All the prints are unique to our label and vintage inspired; they are our point of difference, as well as a great classic cut."
released: Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Nandhini Mohan on: Thursday, 16 August 2012 4:57:50 PM
Subject: Re: Printing with a difference - Digital Fabri
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