Malene Kristiansen works at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, in Copenhagen and lectures in the Textiles faculty. And it is not only with her students that she is concerned with how digital printing actually works and with the effect on the end result that printing on different materials has. Then again, how does it look when the wearer moves?

Alongside her teaching job, the Danish lecturer also works for a small company that produces high-quality swimwear. Here, too, there is a constant stream of questions that arise when it comes to printing on bikinis, shawls, wraps and clothes. How, for instance, can knitted and interlock fabric be printed on, without getting too stretched. The collections regularly include various materials such as polyester, silk and cotton. In spite of this, bikinis, flowing wraps and cover-ups are expected to match and to look good. “Experience has shown that customers think that prints on white cotton feel cheap,” says Kristiansen. “The same print on silk, on the other hand, has a seductive effect and doesn’t feel cheap at all, because in our case, here, it is semi-transparent.” Time and again, therefore, Kristiansen takes the decision to use various designs and patterns, which clearly belong together, for the various different materials within one line of apparel.

The same print looks so different on different materials

There is another quite important thing that needs to be considered when it comes to swimwear: the colours must not fade through exposure to the sun, chlorine or salt water. Moreover, the garments must retain their shape. In spite of all these requirements for bathing outfits, Kristiansen’s experience has shown one thing: “At the end of the day, customers go by the look of an item; its performance is a secondary consideration.”

Kirsten Rein

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