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In a highly visual guest blog, resident digital printing expert, founder at Digetex, Debbie McKeegan shares her latest thoughts with Digetex's community. In this instalment, she focuses on digital print in relation to fast fashion.

There can be no doubt that ‘Fast Fashion’ and the use of digital printing techniques have transformed our industry forever. The consumer demands an ever-faster stream of product delivered to the market in super-fast timeframes, changing the buying patterns of retailers, large and small.

With almost half of the world’s population set to be online for 2017, retailers must realize new opportunities to engage and excite their customers and drive online sales.

This year we have seen the high street giant Topshop join forces with Google to stream their Topshop Unique catwalk feed live through Google search, and in September, for the first time consumers will be able to buy the products online live from the catwalk. This unprecedented level of consumer engagement brings a new level of technology to the Fashion industry. Once a closed shop for buyers and the celebrity elite, Fast Fashion is now an instant industry.

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This incredible speed to market has forced a sea of change and new demands on our design community. For the retailer the need for a vast pool of high quality design with instant access has never been greater. There is constant thirst for design driven by the retailers needed to fulfill the expectations of their consumers and an insatiable hunger for new product.

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In simplistic terms, immediate trends are created by the visual world around us, and it takes a designer’s skill to sift through the noise of consumerism to deliver inspirational patterns and prints.

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Designers are now also multi-disciplined, once pigeon holed to create patterns for specific market sectors. For example, Fashion or Interiors as separate markets, patterns now bridge all printed products. The same artwork can be used to decorate a unique car, an umbrella or custom printed dress or a mass-produced wallpaper?

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Digital technology has also created many new markets, of which customized manufacture is now a large force.

The online marketplace is a new portal for consumers who wish to access the latest designs to create bespoke products for their own use. Online retailers such as SurfacePatternPrint.com, Society6.com or Spoonflower.com offer the ability to upload a client’s own artwork, and/or choose from a database of independent designers who offer designs for print on demand products, for Fashion, Homeware, Gifts and promotional items.

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For the mainstream trade buyer, a new generation of online design resources has emerged which offer instant access to designs for download such as Patternbank.com or thepatternbase.com, all providing an online service for trend reports and instant licensing of patterns and designs for printed products, which may then be printed by analogue or digital technology.

Design studios worldwide report a massive surge in new business as our industry evolves to meet demand. With this the need for high quality design has grown and we see a new skill set for our design community who, whilst utilizing CAD digital technology, also have to incorporate hand drawn techniques.

In a digital world the creative design industry must beware of producing a never-ending selection of patterns created using Illustrator and Photoshop. Clients demand professional content, high quality design with creative integrity and instant access 24/7.

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