In celebration of new developments in its burgeoning dye sublimation technology, Epson America hosted its second annual Digital Couture Project Show the night before the official start of New York Fashion Week in February.
Bringing together 11 designers from the U.S. and Latin America, the event, held in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, showcased a variety of garments, from full-zip varsity jackets, to cargo pants and capris, to swimwear, footwear and more, with crisp detail and vibrant colors courtesy of Epson’s SureColor F6200, F7200 and F9200 dye sublimation machines.
The atmosphere at the venue, a large warehouse-inspired space a block from the Hudson River, kicked off the week’s party scene with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, DJs and bright lighting, perfect for the legion of professional photographers on-hand, all enjoyed in the company of fashion-minded celebrities such as SNL comedian Abby Elliott, model Selita Ebanks and British DJ and model Chelsea Leyland.
Epson first launched its line of dye sublimation machines in 2013. Since then, they’ve taken heed of customer feedback and made marked improvements to the technology, most notably with its High Density Black ink that offers deeper saturation than ever before.
"In one week, a designer’s idea is printed and ready to be crafted into a garment,” says Mark Radogna, group manager, Professional Imaging for Epson. “The machines offer quick leadtimes, and they’re affordable, so they allow designers to work within almost any budget. Everything is Epson’s own, from the printer, printhead and ink, to the paper, software and drivers, and the tech support number. No one has done this yet.”
The designers featured at the 2016 event were tasked with putting together complete dye sublimated looks that followed this year’s theme of “Harmony & Peace through Fashion.” A jury made up of Epson representatives and fashion professionals chose the final 11 designers who would bring their work to the Show.
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Epson’s SureColor F9200 dye sublimation machine measures 64” wide and prints at 1,044 square feet per hour. It uses UltraChrome DS ink technology, including the new High Density Black.
Carmen Rios and Carmen Artica, the Peruvian designers behind the Pionier line, call this collection “Searching Peace,” inspired by the search for calm as one moves from the chaos of city to the serenity of the country. The patterns and fibers, they say, are in harmony with the landscape of nature.
Veteran Miami-based designer Danny Santiago used his iPhone to take photos of a live flamingo, an orchid and a Florida building façade. He sent all three images to Epson, which then created the prints and prepared them to be constructed into garments.
Felipe Santamaria Luque, from Colombia, calls his collection “A Tribute to Colombia.” He says it reflects the hope of the Colombian people for peace, despite long years of conflict: “There’s a floral exuberance that’s captive among metal chains, which remind us of the pain. But then the chains gently disappear, emphasizing the hope and diversity that identify our country.”
Mexican design duo Maria de Lourdes Ramirez and Isabel Navarro Landa, founders of Kaleidoscopic, and displayed their “Floral Scope” swimwear that “combines classic, vintage and modern designs, floral details and artistic and technical elements based on painting.”
Brooklyn-based designer Cristina Ruales is celebrating the second season of her ready-to-wear contemporary women’s line. “With the dye sublimation, there are no color limits,” she says. “And it keeps my work within a certain price point. The aesthetic is all about celebrating individuality and empowering women.”
Brazilian designer Fabio Yukio of Tigresse appreciated the abilities of Epson’s machines. “What impressed me most was the color fidelity and the way it fixes onto the fabric,” he said in a statement to Epson. “We were able to stamp the fabrics without outsourcing the process, with good color saturation.”
Chilean designer Matias Hernan presented these colorful psychedelic ensembles, complete with dye sublimated platform boots. “Dye sublimation allows us to work with color, shape and texture in a sensational way,” he said in a statement to Epson. “It’s like working without limits.”