There is NO Turning Back: ITMA 2023 Marks a Significant Turning Point for Textile Innovation, AI and Creativity

Debbie McKeegan
July 9, 2023

ITMA, Milan 2023 showcased an unparalleled metamorphosis for the Textile Industry. After a hiatus of almost 4 years, the industry gathered with eyes-wide-open to discuss, experience, and to implement the many innovations that our industry so desperately needs to adopt, if we are to move to a regenerative, environmental footprint.

The Textile Industry must face up to a new legislative landscape

Product certification and transparency will inform the consumer and in turn rewire the supply chain.

Driving this digital transformation is the need for systemic change across the supply chain. So much has changed across all tiers of manufacturing: The appetite and the requirement for sustainable sourcing now impacts fibre, materials, chemistry, product design and manufacturing process, workflow automation and product fulfilment – and all stakeholders are affected. This key market shift is not to be ignored.

The requirement for sustainable manufacturing process and the imminent impact of regulation and certification across the industry is accelerating change. The facts speak for themselves and very soon manufacturers will have to calculate and report their environmental impact. Those that ignore the benefits of digital textile production will ultimately lose market share because their environmental impact will be too expensive for their clients’ portfolios.

The Environmental Impact of the Textile Industry is Real – There is NO Dress Rehearsal, the Future is NOW

Simplicity was the key word at ITMA 2023. Technology that is autonomous, efficient, environmentally secure, built for purpose and programmed for intelligent manufacturing. Across the equipment field, the art of digital print has been fine-tuned. Digital no longer attempts to mirror analogue, because inkjet has replaced analogue, with speeds of 100sqm a minute now possible, digital is head-to-head with traditional print methods.

Digital ink jet offers a resource efficient solution, removing water and waste from the system whilst adding new functionality on an incredibly small footprint. Single-Step process is trending, and Pigment ink has evolved to become a new hybrid capable of producing stunning print quality and a soft delicate handle on the finest silks.

Adaptive print is also evolving and made an impact in Milan. Machinery is now available that can jet resin – gold or silver and XDi expandable inks to create beautiful surface effects with the finest details as seen in the beautiful couture garments created by Tatiana Pogrebnyak at ITMA using Kornit Digital XDi, Presto technology.

Web 4.0 is here to stay and AI is making an impact

AI image created with a focus on environmental protection and recycling.

Intelligent automation may seem to have silently edged into our industry, and yet AI has been around for years unleashing its power, on each and every process, singular transaction, or event. AI is now firmly in the public domain, and its beginning to make a positive impact on manufacturing machinery for digital textile production.

ITMA showcased many new technical advances for digital textile printing, behind each was AI (at varying degrees), moving to eventually offer the ability to control and measure the entire process of production. By intelligently and automatically fine tuning each jetted ink drop, faulty print head, ink formulation, to ensure the efficient use of design, materials, and product application, whilst conserving natural resources and energy usage.

Harnessing and measuring all of these production variables can now be achieved (seamlessly) to generate holistic, accurate, transparent data. Data that will be the new gold of printed production – saving resources, energy and manpower with every ink droplet, and every metre of digital textile print.

Collaboration and a Triumph of Creativity and Technology at ITMA 2023

Tatiana Pogrebnyak bespoke collection for ITMA 2023. Photo by David Zanardi

Tatiana Pogrebnyak, is a fashion designer based in Israel, creating unique, bespoke garments for an international VIP client base. In a recent collaboration with Kornit Digital, Tatiana harnessed her creativity and Kornit’s innovative technology to create a ground-breaking fashion collection for ITMA 2023: On-Demand Couture. Luxury garments and customised apparel, beautifully printed using XDi dimensional surface technology onto fine luxury fabrics, then crafted into an exquisite collection of garments. The results speak for themselves.

Tatiana explained her vision: “I wanted to prove that we can bring together all aspects of regenerative design like upcycling and recycling using dead stock fabrics. I explored Kornit’s XDi technology (which is amazing) and printed onto challenging fabrics like Wool and Silk using remnants. On-Demand printing technology allows me to develop a design and just go and print it – and get amazing results on the spot”.

“What really blows my mind, it’s just one machine that can do everything, with no minimum, it’s really amazing” Tatiana concluded.

Tatiana’s recent collaboration with Kornit Digital further endorses the power of collaboration. Her creative curiosity and pragmatic approach combined with Kornit’s innovative technology pushes the boundaries of design and print towards a new landscape: a regenerative, circular manufacturing environment where everybody wins – People and Planet.

Great Minds Working Together to Bring about Systemic Change

Milan was engulfed by 111,000 visitors, spanning many generations, markets and manufacturing sectors. ITMA’s energy was palpable as was the appetite for material change and innovation.

The digitisation of our industry is well underway and is accelerating at an unprecedented pace. Whilst the pandemic challenged the world in so many ways, it also highlighted the negative impact that each and every industry makes on our planet. And in doing so, united and focussed all generations on sustainability and the global collaboration required to achieve monumental change.

ITMA brought the global textile community to one centre, with one goal – Regenerative Reform.