ITMA 2019: Key highlights from the world’s biggest textiles show

A hotbed of innovation in textile and garment manufacturing, ITMA 2019 is a key event for the textile printing industry. Bringing together manufacturers and suppliers from across the supply chain, 2019’s event was the biggest yet with a 38% increase in the number of exhibitors compared with the previous show. For Sensient, it’s a must-attend show that gives us the opportunity to meet with customers and partners face-to-face, share ideas and explore the biggest trends.

ITMA was also the perfect platform for us to launch our new brand, centered around the idea of ‘color you can trust’. It was great to speak to customers and prospects about our latest innovations in digital inkjet technology, and demonstrate how we equip brands with sustainable, high-quality, compliant color they can trust.

This year has undoubtedly been challenging for the textile industry – political uncertainty, stringent environmental regulations and a struggling retail sector have been the biggest contributors. However, despite the tough conditions, ITMA still showcased a wealth of innovation from ink to machinery, substrate to software. Here are our top five highlights from the show:

1. Spotlight on sustainability

The textile industry is under increasing pressure to clean up its act and, as such, the textile supply chain is looking for ways to be more environmentally responsible and reduce its impact on the natural world as much as possible. Textiles brands, especially large sportswear brands, are seeking to source their products in a more responsible way, as consumers become increasingly conscious of the sustainable credentials of brands and legislators pass tougher new environmental laws that impact on textile production. At ITMA, it was great to see sustainability initiatives from companies like Autefa Solutions, which is creating textile machinery solutions that dramatically reduce the energy cost of spunlace production, and Starlinger, a weaving technology company that was demonstrating the circular weaving of tapes made from recycled PET.

For both manufacturers and brands, one way to move towards greener ways of working is choosing an ink that has been designed to reduce impact on the environment. Our long-term goal is to eliminate the need for pre- and post-fabric treatments. In fact, all our current R&D efforts are focused on developing new technologies that help to reduce the environmental impact of textile printing – by saving ink, water, substrate and energy. One result of our R&D efforts is ElvaJet® Coral, which has been developed specifically to reduce wastewater. By printing directly onto the substrate, ElvaJet® Coral also removes the waste from transfer paper and residual ink, as well as reducing overall energy use by 60%. 

2. Quality over price

In the past, many brands and manufacturers have perhaps prioritized keeping costs low over quality. The fashion market in particular is very price sensitive, as high street brands look to meet the demand for ‘disposable’ garments that are cheap, fast and customizable. However, from conversations at ITMA, it was obvious that quality is very much a growing priority for brands as they seek to differentiate their offering from competitors.

To produce superior textile products, high-quality inks are now more in demand than ever. Manufacturers want a high-quality ink solution that delivers consistent, vibrant color, performing consistently across a variety of substrates. Brands are also looking to move away from a purely transactional relationship, and instead are seeking a consultative experience from their ink provider – they would rather make sure that the ink they purchase is the correct one for their specific demands, than choose the cheaper option.

3. A flexible approach

Fast fashion has taken a firm grip on the textile industry, and the demand for personalization and customization is greater than ever before. Although these trends mean increased production volumes for the industry, it also means that textiles manufacturers must manage the implications of increased demand and faster turnaround times.

Using an ink that can cope with these demanding conditions is key. We work closely with textile manufacturers to create tailored solutions that fit specific production demands, without compromising on quality or safety standards.

4. A bright future ahead for textiles

Despite a challenging start to the year, there was a general feeling of optimism at ITMA. It was clear that the industry is evolving very quickly towards a more sophisticated and sustainable future. Alongside key trends such as customization, huge leaps forward when it comes to speed and efficiency of production, and greener, cleaner ways of working, there was also a big focus on digitalization. In order to meet the increasingly demanding requirements of the industry, the switch to digital printing is gathering momentum and, as a result, more printer manufacturers are exploring digital printing as an alternative to traditional printing methods.

5. In color we trust

At ITMA it was clear that, in their search for a high-quality digital inkjet solution, manufacturers and brands are seeking high performance inks that produce vibrant, sharp color with batch-to-batch consistency. They want an inkjet solution that meets both regulatory and sustainability requirements – and from a supplier they can rely on.

With this in mind, we’re incredibly excited to launch our new branding around ‘color you can trust’, demonstrating how we’re meeting these requirements of brands and manufacturers across the industry. With our portfolio of digital inkjet technologies, alongside our market expertise, we are committed to supporting textile businesses reach new heights of quality and performance.

To learn more about our experience at ITMA, make sure you watch our interview with Dr. Simon Daplyn, Marketing Manager at Sensient:

If you have any questions about our portfolio of digital inkjet solutions, or if you’d like to find out more about color you can trust, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.