It was in 1997 that legendary film maker Tunde Kilani reminded the world of the oversized sleeves with high waist wrappers which stopped at knee length in his world class Yoruba movie – Oleku. I have heard my grandmother talk about how the fashion in their own time was far better than what was obtainable in the 90’s just before she passed on to the great beyond. As I learnt from her, Shade Thomas – Fahm (I hope I got the spelling right) was a pioneer who defined the trends of the fashion industry in the 60’s, her boubou’s are still being restyled today. By the 70’s fashion in Nigeria had become funky, the afros, the bell bottom trousers, it was the government of General Olusegun Obasanjo that banned the importation of “ready-made” – the name given to foreign brands – clothing’s. Designers like Lanre Ogunlesi with his sofisticat brand leveraged on the ban to provide an alternative for those who only wear imported clothes.

Like Shade’s Boutique of Mrs. Thomas – Fahm, trends again was created by Sofisticat. The same way one of my industry mummies and mentor, Mrs. Folorunso Alakija brought in super creativity in the 80’s with her supreme stitches, her brand was embraced by the high and mighty in the society. Mrs Alakija was appointed Vice President and later became President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), an association that is still active today where she remains a Life Trustee. The association helped other brands like Dakova, which also became a household name by the late 80’s. I like the way Chanel Coco puts it,” Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Truth be told Fashion will be quite boring without Textile printers. Let us say everyone likes a style, but colours and patterns help tell the story of each individual style. Fashion designers today are still defining and redefining the fashion trends and they are eagerly waiting for textile printers to help create much more possibilities; Apart from the apparel fashion world, the sport industry is estimated to worth $500 billion and they need sport apparels which are mostly printed.

Although there seems to be great restrictions on events at the moment due to the outbreak of corona virus, but the soft signage and display graphics sector is another viable application. Cloths are replacing SAV for some reasons. Carpet and rug printing is another, and this is sort of linked to Home textile – furniture, curtains, bed sheets are all printed. There are some fabrics made for non- aesthetics purposes, here the textile is about function. Some application of Technical textile as they are called range from Automobile applications to agro textile (used for crop protection), protective clothing (like firefighting clothing) and medical clothing Of course I didn’t speak to the trend in the 90’s because that was the military era and the then vibrant textile industry was gradually extinguished, many professionals relocated abroad and the hardship that came with that season killed a lot of creativity. This is the year 2020, things have changed again, some professionals are back home, plus covid-19 is teaching us to convert all we have learnt from globalization, and bring them home to develop localization. Soft fashion has become the trend today, triblends are appearing and we have a new challenge of how to print on them. Streetwear which is a style of casual clothing started globally in the 90’s but is now in its full bloom. E-commerce is also driving the trend, so we are required to print unique designs on fabric and it should be done pretty fast. How about the uniform application? School uniform, hospital uniforms, law enforcement agencies also need uniforms, school inter house sport uniform, offices and factories all need uniforms. If we are to talk about fashion history particularly in Africa, it will be the difference between covering ourselves in leaves, to the various styles of flowing garments and to those leggings and sneakers… many factors contributes to the shift in fashion, this factors are not limited to politics, culture, technology, climate changes, social norms, family value, peer pressure, trend and so on and so forth, one thing that we will never take out is the presence of beauty, radiance and colours even across many generations. So, for sure Textile Printing will remain relevant! But if you are in doubt of what technology to deploy for any specific application then lets chat… The aim of technology is to solve problems, should you go conventional? Or should you go digital? What myth have you been sold? Direct to garment (DTG) is the new cool for printing Tshirts, its flexibility and short learning curve are its greatest benefits meanwhile many have burnt their fingers because they didn’t know how to approach this business, let’s talk to demystify some thoughts and misconceptions, for instance many don’t even know the difference between a DTG, white toner and sublimation technology so they mix up the technologies and misconstrue the expectations. Let me say again that conventional is NOT old fashioned, in any printing space, conventional is to help meet the needs for long run jobs. In textile printing also digital printing becomes expensive if we want to use it to achieve long runs. This is simple logic and here is it; we always need a preparation time which cost money in conventional textile printing but as the volumes roll on the press that preparation cost becomes insignificant, so if we are to print 50 linear meters of fabric, digital will be cheaper than conventional. The earlier we realize that no two businesses can meet the same need the better for us to realize that conventional and digital will co-exist throughout our life time. Have a lovely week, as we professionally bring back TEXTILE PRINTING to the runway of lifestyle and trends! Thoughts from: Akin Oduwole, CE @ Technology Global

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