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Los Angeles International Textile Show’s Print Debate

One of the key topics of discussion was the use of digital prints versus screen prints.

LOS ANGELES — One of the key topics of discussion at the Los Angeles International Textile Show was the use of digital prints versus screen prints.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Many exhibitors were offering both options on fabrics to manufacturers and designers, but noted that most clients were sticking to screen printing, at least for now.

“It’s definitely a growing market and a lot of European art studios are going digital, but the cost in the United States isn’t so customer-friendly,” said Peri O’Connor, owner of Los Angeles-based Periscope, a textile design agency representing about 20 art studios.

Screen printing prices can be half as much as digital printing due to the high costs of digital inks. Whereas screen printing pushes colors through a mesh screen one color at a time, digital printing is a computer process that directly applies ink to a garment. The result is usually richer in detail and can be more vibrant.

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“Digital allows for lots of colors,” said Sheryl Gadea, stylist designer for Los Angeles-based Textile Secrets International.

Robert Kaufman Fabrics is also a believer in the printing shift.

“We’re working on digital print options and it’s on the horizon,” said Ron Kaufman, the fabric company’s vice president of sales. “Direct-to-fabric printing provides a level of customization and look that you can’t accomplish otherwise.”

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In step with the growing market were newer boutique design studios selling lower-cost digital artwork typically at $5 to $6.50 a print, compared to prices of $13 up to hundreds of dollars for vintage prints. Buyers were looking for conversational prints at Aaryn West, a two-year-old company based in Los Angeles, which was also representing Hunt + Gather Studio.

Los Angeles-based White Buffalo Studio launched at the show, gaining traction for its geometric and Mod styles inspired by Edie Sedgwick and whimsical cherries and pineapples.

“We’ve been making new contacts at the show and the feedback has been great,” said Kassy Dean, creative director and owner of White Buffalo Studio.