Epson and Japanese fashion designer Yuima Nakazato have unveiled a new sustainable couture collection combining digital textile inkjet and dry fibre technologies to create new outfits from recycled, re-fibreised fabrics

The latest couture collection has been recently displayed during the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week at the Palais de Tokyo.

The collection has been created, in most part, using a combination of Epson’s more sustainable digital textile printing technology and a new fabric production process that has the potential to transform the fashion industry, contributing significantly to the creation of an innovative, colourful, and ground-breaking collection of beautifully designed couture pieces.

Epson’s dry fibre technology, which is already used commercially to recycle paper and requires virtually no water to produce, has been adapted to produce new non-woven re-fibreised fabric from used and discarded garments.

This experimental fabric production process was first revealed in January this year as part of a three-year collaboration between Epson and Yuima Nakazato. 

For the show in July, Epson made further significant advances to the quality of the fabric, making it thinner, more flexible and easier to print on using Epson’s sustainable Monna Lisa direct-to-fabric digital textile printing technology.

The new couture range on display at the Palais de Tokyo was printed using the Epson ML-13000. This is a prototype direct-to-fabric digital textile printer capable of achieving vivid colours with pigment inks on a wide variety of fabrics and surfaces.

The fabric taken to create the new fashion line was derived from material from used garments sourced from Africa. The designer visited Kenya where he purchased around 150 kg of used garments. Epson then applied its dry re-fibreisation process to the waste material which resulted in the production of over 150 metres of non-woven fabric, which was then printed on using pigment inks by Epson’s Monna Lisa digital printing technology.

Epson’s Printing Solutions Division Hitoshi Igarashi commented, “Although in its early stages, Epson believes its dry fibre technology combined with pigment ink digital printing could offer the fashion industry a much more sustainable future, significantly reducing water use while allowing designers the freedom to fully express their creativity.

“Since January this year Epson has continued to make significant advances in the quality and printability of re-fibreised fabric. It is now less dense, tougher and much more flexible, making it better suited for printing on using Epson’s Monna Lisa direct-to-fabric digital textile printer. The fabric used this time was much thinner than before, leading to a 37.5 per cent weight reduction from 160 g/m2 previously to 100 g/m2 now.”

According to Epson, the ML-13000 uses a pigment ink process that leads to a 96 per cent reduction in water use compared to dye-based inks. It has also increased productivity by 300 percent compared to conventional production processes thanks to an in-line solution involving built-in pre- and post-printing processes.

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