Custom tees – a new chapter of digital disruption in sportswear manufacturing at FESPA Global Print Expo 2020

20 Feb 2020

Custom tees – a new chapter of digital disruption in sportswear manufacturing at FESPA Global Print Expo 2020

Debbie McKeegan, FESPA Textile Ambassador
Custom tees – a new chapter of digital disruption in sportswear manufacturing at FESPA Global Print Expo 2020

Textile printing has long been a key component of FESPA exhibitions, and FESPA Global Print Expo 2020 in Madrid (24th – 27th March 2020) will be no different. It comes as the market is accelerating its adoption of digital inkjet technology in direct-to-garment (DTG) printing to deliver on the growing demand for mass customisation and personalisation.


In the spotlight this year at Print Make Wear, FESPA’s live end-to-end textile print feature, will be sportswear, and more specifically customised garments. This will complement Sportswear Pro, a brand new exhibition dedicated exclusively to sportswear manufacturing, co-located with FESPA Global Print Expo 2020.


When it comes to the custom t-shirt, digital inkjet printing offers a host of new opportunities to both the entrepreneur and the established business. The ability to custom print just one or thousands of shirts using the same machine has carved out a new marketplace that continues to flourish as the technology advances. Recent innovations in DTG polyester printing have unlocked the sportswear marketplace, where products that are built for sports performance using blended polyester yarns can also be customised to client specification.


Indeed, all the suppliers featured in Print Make Wear this year offer new technologies that will have an impact on the custom t-shirt industry by facilitating smart, sustainable production. Now that every step in the supply chain is being redefined and repurposed, sustainable production is the most important requirement for the next decade, and how we adapt to a new generation of highly automated production processes will be the key to viable production.


The future is bright for textile printers who are ready to embrace these new possibilities. As is the case in most industries experiencing digital disruption and swift growth, competition will be present in many new forms. This includes printers that have not traditionally operated in the garment industry looking to diversify into DTG solutions to capture new revenue streams, as well as the new generation of smart factories and online operators that have e-commerce as their business bedrock. The business model is ripe for new entrants, as it does not involve the complication of sewing, but is built on pre-sewn blanks only printed at the time of purchase. Success will depend on excellent e-commerce, addressing the client’s need for a ’personal edit‘, offering consistent quality and products that are totally unique, and achieving super-fast delivery.


In the future, all aspects of sportswear will be subject to these mega trends of mass customisation and personalisation. And, in parallel to DTG innovations, some very exciting developments are happening in smart textiles. Combined, they are set to revolutionise the sportswear industry. Visitors to Print Make Wear and Sportswear Pro will showcase these innovations and demonstrate that smart, automated, sustainable sportswear production is here to stay – the future is now!


For more information on FESPA Global Print Expo 2020 and to register to attend, visit www.fespaglobalprintexpo.com. For free entry use code FESM215, which will also grant you access to co-located shows, European Sign Expo and Sportswear Pro.