Where Is Screen Printing?
After our recent trip to attend the FESPA show, we asked Kieth Stevens, our Western Regional Sales Manager, to give us observations he may have of the overall textile screen printing industry and to share his thoughts on the subject:
“Recently, International Coatings attended the FESPA 2010 show in Munich Germany, during which we demonstrated specialty printing techniques at our booth. We received comments from many, on how nice it was that someone was actually printing during the show and how much they liked our inks and techniques.
As edifying as this experience was, I wanted to bring to light an observation I had made. Let me first put in a disclaimer that this is simply my own perception.
It seems to me that over the past year, the art and industry of screen printing has fallen out of favor in industry-specific magazines and trade shows while more and more of the focus has been devoted to the Digital Graphics and Embroidery industry. For example, a couple of weeks ago I received a printed brochure, an invitation to an upcoming printing industry trade show and was disappointed on how little focus, if any, there was in the brochure on textile screen printing. Although the brochure was full of images, not one was of anything related to textile screen printing.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against those industries, but although the digital graphics industry may be gaining more and more momentum, the lion share of the garment decorating industry still belongs to screen printing.
Based on Impression Magazine’s 2007 study of the Decorated Apparel Industry, the total revenue value in 2006 comprised of $43.9 billion, of which 34% or $15 billion is textile screen printing, the largest chunk of the decorated apparel industry. In my weekly travels, I have also observed that screen printing has picked up momentum at the shops I regularly visit. Especially the large contract shops have been swamped with requests from large retailers and brands who require decorated T-shirts and apparel which they, in turn, can sell at reasonable retail prices. I am passionate about screen printing and the industry, so it’s good to know that the textile screen printing portion of the overall garment decorating industry is still alive and well.
As to other textile screen printing trends I observed at FESPA, “bling” remains to be a hot trend. Foils were especially in demand, and we were swamped with inquiries about the foils we were using to enhance our prints (no, we don’t sell foil). Surprisingly, we received a handful of interest from ‘strictly-digital’ apparel decorating shops, who informed us that they are looking to add screen printing to their offering, because many of their customers asked for more textural addition to their one-dimensional prints as well as adding foil. They informed us that adding screen printing would give them an edge over their competitor, especially if they can use specialty inks, such as our Granite Base or BlowOut Base to differentiate them.
I am very proud of what this Industry has accomplished over my 33-year career and remember how I used to look forward to receiving a trade magazine and what insights it would provide me and couldn’t wait to try out the new processes or inks I read about. I hope that the trade magazines and printing organizations don’t forget about the textile screen printers in the excitement of the digital wave.”
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