How global apparel trends are affecting the garment print industry

Consider producing one off designs

In this month’s column Amaya Sales UK’s managing director, Peter Wright, talks about how garment decorators can capitalise on the changes in consumer shopping habits.

Over the last few years, retail apparel stores have been in a meltdown situation. In this same period online shopping has quadrupled in size.

It’s so much easier now to do nearly all of your shopping online. With clothes, you can order them, try them on at home in your own time and then either keep them or return them. What’s more, you can now order in the evening and have your goods arrive next day.

The same situation is now affecting the garment print industry, clients are demanding shorter order to delivery times, their orders are getting smaller and your profitability is getting lower.

So how do you make money, save money and grow your business? The answer is say yes to any garment print job.

Because the general market trend of printed garment orders is getting lower, the cost of producing these by screen printing is getting much higher and in some cases not viable for orders of below 500 pieces. This also gets more expensive as you add more colours. Screen printers have the cost of making the screens, cleaning the screens, preparing artwork, ink mixing and require more experienced operatives. So, this is why screen printing companies generally refuse orders of one to 250 and why their margins are slashed with orders up to around 500 if they take on the job.

So how can screen printers say yes to any job? The answer is to add direct to garment printers to their range of equipment.

Direct to garment printers come in all shapes and sizes but to compete with the 100+ orders you would need to be looking at the fully industrial products that can easily print around a thousand garments in eight hours. One manufacturer has now introduced a printer with A3 size ink costs of around 0.50p. This compared very well with screen printing and allows garment decorators to say yes to every customer. Just compare the benefits:

These new generation DTG printers also come with web to print software which allows for next day delivery when required. Some also have built in pretreatment technology which cuts down on time and labour.

These fully industrial printers come at a cost but if you have the throughput, their return on investment will surprise you.

There are many lower cost printers available which will produce from 50 to 200 a day but these may frustrate many screen printers who are used to higher outputs. All of these printers require external pretreatment which adds on to the process and labour costs. Another draw back to some of these printers is the cost per print so always check this, and speed, when making a decision.

Also available now are roll to roll fabric printers that can print one offs. This allows designers to produce a one off dress or printed fabric for soft furnishing much more economically than in the past. For example see www.spoonflower.com.

Give your customers a print on demand service, in my opinion it is the only way forward for a profitable business and to satisfy your customers.

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