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A plethora of print at Central Saint Martins

Textile and fashion students at the renowned college Central Saint Martins (CSM) are demonstrating how they have used digital printing techniques in their final degree shows taking place this week (June 19th to 23rd).

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Laura Baker, technical co-ordinator of print at CSM, talks through the degree show designs

Epson has supported students at the college with a number of printers, including a SurePress-F9300 dye-sublimation printer and a SureColor SC-F2100 direct-to-garment (DTG) printer.

Laura Baker is the technical co-ordinator of print at CSM and says that the students are often pushing the boundaries of what the machines can do within their own experimentation.

“Dye-sublimation and DTG printers are waterless and the printers’ sustainable credentials fit the college’s eco vision and values,” Baker says. “We experiment in alternative recyclable or natural materials and believe in upcycling and value fashion which has a longer life.

“The other strong credential of our courses is the emphasis on creativity and experimentation. Our students love the Epson printers and push them to the limits, experimenting with diverse designs and materials.”

Many of the designs used challenging materials that students were able to print on to

Speaking with the students, Print Monthly found that whilst many used digital print in various stages of design, some could not achieve their final outcome without the use of digital printing techniques, where traditional fabric printing methods had failed.

Grace Jean-Louis Constantine, a final year fashion print student, says that digital textile printing allowed her to realise her collection as she explains: “Because all of the prints I did were created from photographs, digital print was the only way that I was able to put that directly onto a garment.”

For menswear student Fumika Oshima, the colours achieved with digital printing actually encouraged her to use colour where she had not before, in her exploration of the concept “making friends with the enemy”. 

Oshima comments: “Sublimation prints are very vivid, and do not change texture or harden fabric after printing. I was able to use both for small-scale and larger-scale printing on synthetic, stretchy fabric, and on carbon fibre fabric. The Epson printer allowed me to incorporate bold coloured prints in my collection.”

We want to work with the designers of the future, to encourage students to learn new skills and to push the boundaries of design and creativity to their limits

Fashion print student Nicole Zisman utilised digital textile printing methods strongly in her final collection, which investigates the real versus the artificial, as she explains: “I could never have achieved the techniques I did in my collection without these machines. 

“Screen printing and embroidery work much more like layering a painting, and my brain doesn't quite design prints that way. Plus, the quality and sturdiness of the inks used in both UV and sublimation heat transfer allowed me to print materials before manipulating them, which allowed me to laser-cut printed acrylic sequins and hand-pleat digitally printed fabrics.”

The partnership between Epson and the college highlights the need to support and encourage new faces to the industry, wherever they may be using print. Heather Kendle, market development manager for Epson Europe, comments: “Epson puts a great emphasis on the support of education, and this isn’t altruistic.

“We want to work with the designers of the future, to encourage students to learn new skills and to push the boundaries of design and creativity to their limits using our products and we also learn from them and better understand the trends and demands on our technology moving forward. Student feedback can even help us refine or develop our technology.”

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