NEW YORK—Epson hosts its fourth annual Digital Couture event in New York City. The Feb. 6 event, held in the city's Financial District, kicked off with a panel discussing its innovations in textile printing and fashion technology.
Wall Street Journal Magazine vice president Anthony Cenname moderated the panel and panelists included Alice+Olivia executive vice president of brand marketing and communications Aliza Licht, interior designer Ryan Korban, Mark Sunderland of Thomas Jefferson University, and fashion critic and analyst Anna Fusoni. The panel discussed everything from social media to sustainability, and how both play a role in the industry today. Panelists discussed and exchanged opinions on the topics as a lead-in for the fashion presentation.
This year’s show featured 13 designer teams from the United States, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Colombia. Each design team took on the theme “Cosmopolitan Couture with Impossible Colors—How Does Your Culture Dress-up?” in each of their signature styles. One team from the United States included a group of students from Thomas Jefferson University. Regan Marriner, a student at the university and a member of the Thomas Jefferson design team is earning her master's in textile design. In an interview before the event, Marriner spoke about her studies, noting that she is focusing on warp knit fabrics, "which is what we used a lot of for this project."
Although her first time participating in the Epson Digital Couture event, this was not Marriner's first time designing for a New York Fashion Week (NYFW) event. In 2017, she collaborated with fashion design student Maria Palantino where her efforts earned her The Woolmark Company Award for innovation and the Nexus Learning Award for collaboration at the university’s 2017 fashion show. Their collection appeared at New York Fashion Week in October of 2017.
"I got chosen mostly because of my collaborative spirit. I really like working with other majors and seeing all their perspectives on projects or whatever we're working on. As a grad student, with my background, my schooling, courses, expertise allowed me to work on this project using different fabrications and print that we created," Marriner says.
She adds that color profiling was a focus for her team throughout the project. When asked about working with the Epson printers, she notes that the Epson equipment was able to keep up with and handle the different fabrics, structures, and textures they used. The Thomas Jefferson team worked with everything from interlock and stretch fabrics to satins, flexible composites, and warp knit structures.
In a sit down with Keith Kratzberg, president and CEO of Epson America, he talked about the new opportunities for those in the textile-printing industry.
Kratzberg notes, "There's a lot going on at this phase of the evolution of the market," adding that Epson has a unique role in the textile-printing market. He says that in addition to all the parts needed for digital printing, like the software and the materials, there's also another large aspect that's necessary to take on the decoration method. "There is a lot of knowledge that's required in terms of setting up and managing the workflow and when you move from an analog process to a digital process, in many ways, it's a completely different mindset."
The students and designers of Thomas Jefferson University had a unique experience. Not only did they put together the designs for the Digital Couture event, but they completed all production and creation of materials in-house. Because of this unique situation, the students re-created and iterated as they pleased within the production process.
Kratzberg adds that the students were able to truly create what they were imagining, "...to be able to conceptualize something, bring it to production, produce the piece, look at it, and decide, "Oh, we can make this even better,' and go back and do it again in a very quick cycle" was possible with the technology used. The university focuses on digital direct fabric printing, creating a generation of new fashion designers and textile printers.
"What we're trying to do using our scale and brand with this event, is to bring people together so that people can make those connections with other people in the industry—opportunities for education," Kratzberg adds.
Take a peek through the gallery for a look inside the fourth-annual event.