Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Digital Printing

At Jaftex, we have been watching the digital printing fabric trend very closely over the last year or so, but opted to stay on the sidelines.  I know others have been watching too as I see more and more articles on the subject and am starting to hear a lot of chatter.  At first, the digital printing started out with companies digitally printing projects and designs on a small scale.  This served as a simple and quick marketing tool to help shops sell fabric and save them time from having to make time consuming store samples.  In addition, some companies were using the digital printing as an easy way for their sales reps to have fabric samples to show to customers so they could get the gist as to how the line would really look when printed on fabric.  A couple of the braver companies even went as far as offering an entire line comprised of digital prints.  There is no doubt that this was a risky investment, but I am pretty sure that it paid off in spades for the groundbreakers.

Digital-Printing-1

This all being said, the times they are a changin’ and we have determined that the time is right for us to finally get involved with the digital printing trend.  Early on when digital printing hit our industry, digitally printed lines were sold at a very high premium i.e. $1-$3 above typical Korean line pricing.  My understanding is that most of these companies were doing their printing in Pakistan, China and to a lesser degree in Korea.  These lines were really quite beautiful and filled with so many colors.  Of note, regular print mills can only use a maximum of 18 colors in a print, so digital was a real game changer with limitless colors.  We were hesitant to jump on the bandwagon early on because we found it hard to rationalize charging such a premium when shops were even struggling with the pricing of non-digitally printed lines.  Nobody really knew if consumers would be willing to pay around $14-$20/yard for digital fabric.

dip toes

Fast forward to today, and the Jaftex companies are starting to dip their toes in to the game.  For starters, we are having several of our quilt projects digitally printed in the US like a cheater quilt to serve the following purposes:

  • For reps, it is a good way to show how nice the quilt project will look when finished.  The nice thing about this is that the rep can quilt and embellish the preprinted panel to show shop owners that the possibilities are endless and this item will help sell fabric when it is hanging up in a shop.  A lot of people want quilting projects spoon fed to them because they just don’t have the time to come up with such an elaborate project.  This will definitely help to serve that purpose.
  • The sales rep can sell these preprinted projects to the shop as a marketing tool or the shop can buy the preprinted projects to sell to customers.  It could serve as a great tool in teaching consumers how to quilt.
  • In some cases, the shop owner can earn the preprinted project for free as a reward for buying a full collection.  In other words, it is an added bonus to help shops market the line for which they have so heavily invested.

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Aside from the preprinted projects, the pricing of printing digital fabric in Pakistan has come our way enough so that we are ready to start printing quilting lines digitally.  This is a pretty exciting time and we might look back one day and say how digital printing changed the entire quilting industry.  That is yet to be determined.  In any case, you can expect to start seeing printed quilt lines and 108″ wide quilt backing produced from the Jaftex companies digitally.  Moreover, the digital process will allow us to sell more of the digitally printed lines and the non-digitally printed lines off of actual fabric as opposed to selling the lines off of color printed cad cards.  You can keep your eyes out for this. You can also expect to hear me blogging more on this subject as time passes and we get the opportunity to see how this trend pans out for our companies.  Until then, we will just have to wait and see.  Please tell me about your experiences with digital and let me know what you think the future will bring.

Until September,

This Is Studioe Scott

PS…I will be skipping out on the Labor Day blog so have a nice long weekend!

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