Epson and designer Yuima Nakazato show a glimpse of a more sustainable future for fashion
Partnership combines inkjet and dry fiber technologies to create stunning designs from recycled clothing
Epson's dry fiber technology, which is already used commercially to recycle office paper and which requires virtually no water, has been adapted to produce printable non-woven fabric from used garments. The new fabric production process was revealed in Paris as part of a three-year collaboration between Epson and YUIMA NAKAZATO and was used in the creation of items for the first time during the latter's runway show at the Palais de Tokyo on January 25, 2023.
The collaboration between Epson and YUIMA NAKAZATO builds on the success of the company's printing support for his couture and evolves the level of his creations to enable the low-impact production of high-quality custom garments. Both Epson and YUIMA NAKAZATO are keen to raise awareness of the water and material waste associated with excess production. The Paris Show illustrates how switching to digital textile printing using more environmentally friendly pigment inks offers the fashion industry a more sustainable and less wasteful means of textile printing.(1)
The fabric taken to create the latest YUIMA NAKAZATO fashion line was derived from material from used garments sourced from Africa, the destination for many discarded garments from elsewhere in the world. Nakazato visited Kenya where he collected around 150 kg of waste garment material destined for the "clothes mountain" of discarded textiles he encountered there. Epson then applied its dry fiber process to produce over 50 metres of new re-fiberised non-woven fabric, some of which was used for printing with pigment inks with Epson's Monna Lisa digital printing technology.(2)
Hitoshi Igarashi from Epson's Printing Solutions Division explains the importance of the technology: "Although in its early stages, Epson believes its dry fiber 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.
"Epson's Environmental Vision is committed to contributing to a circular economy, and this development could be one step towards achieving this. Dry fiber technology applied to the fashion industry offers the possibility of producing material for new clothes that have been recycled from used garments."
In a trial of distributed printing for venue decoration, Epson inkjet printers in Japan and France with remote support from Epson engineers were used to create decorations in the venue space. Both Epson and YUIMA NAKAZATO intend to continue exploring the possibilities for contributing to a more sustainable fashion industry.
1) Digital textile printing using pigment inks offers a far more sustainable approach to the fabric production process. compared with traditional analog methods. In addition to pigment inks requiring significantly less water, the digital process requires far fewer stages and is less complex. Unlike analog it requires no plate production, washing or storage, results in little disposal of used inks, and allows on-demand production that contributes to less waste.
2) Epson's Monna Lisa digital Direct-to-Fabric printers use less water compared with analog methods. Pigment inks are more eco-friendly and Epson GENESTA pigment inks are GOTS approved by ECOCERT.