Digital textile printing market growing
rapidly in Pakistan
by Prof. Dr. Noor Ahmed
Memon, Dean FBMS; Metropolitan University, Karachi.
The market for digital textile printing in Pakistan is
increasing as it offers better and high definition textile print
design possibilities, lower water, effluent, emissions and
energy use with an economical production of “short to medium
run” prints to the market. The shorter delivery times brings
increased savings to retailers and brands as digital printing
industry is based on proximity sourcing and just-in-time
printing and sourcing strategies.
The textile printing has become a concept rather than just an
embellishment on an outfit contributing to the style and shape
of the garment. Digital printing, the newest as well as the most
diverse textile printing means, is increasingly becoming more
accessible for the textile printers around the world, which
enable the designers to produce innovative prints as per their
imagination in the right colour on the right fabric. The
technological advancements in textile printing made the two
aspects associated with textile printing - the design and the
printing, more and more interdependent.
Today’s textile printing technology facilitates precise and
exact placing of prints on a garment, thus enabling the
manufacturers to decrease or increase the size of the print,
modify the background tones, produce optical illusions, print
advanced graphics, and offer the best translation of every
In the textile industry, the majority of textile printing is
done in traditional analogue method but there is a growing
interest for digital printing on textiles.
The digital textile printing has already helped revive
Europe’s textile industry. Large fashion brands, such as Zara,
use digital textile printing to design, print and roll out new
styles and fashion to their stores quickly, in an
environmentally sustainable manner. This allows them to stay
on-trend without incurring the significant costs and potential
wastage of doing large-volume print runs in China. According to
the latest research, the global textile market is expected to
reach more than US$1.2 trillion by 2025.
Despite coming off a low base of 2% of the total textile
market, the digital printing market is expected to see
exponential growth in the coming years. Analysts estimate that
the global digital textile printing sector will grow by 25% per
annum over the coming years, with half of that growth centered
in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
The future of digital textile printing to 2021 values this
global market at Euro 1.17 billion in 2016 with growth forecast
at an annual average of 12.3% for 2016-2021. This will see the
market more than double in value over five years, reaching Euro
2.42 billion in 2021.
Digital Printing in Pakistan
The digital printing sector is a new but most vibrant of the
subsectors in the textile industry of Pakistan. Although
accounting for less than 5% of total textile printing in
Pakistan, the growth in digital printing is indeed remarkable
which doubled in the last year.
The key digital printing machinery manufacturers such as efi
Reggiani, MS, SPG Prints, Mimaki, Arioli and Atexco are actively
selling their high-end machines in Pakistan for high-speed
cotton textile printing. The digital machines for sublimation
are also gaining share in polyester fabrics and garments. Brands
such as Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland are active in this sector.
Home textiles hold a minor share in the digital printing
sector as this market is export driven and not a great demand
exists as yet for digitally printed home textiles from Pakistan.
There are more than 100 digital printing machines installed
for the high-end domestic fashion apparel market in Pakistan. If
all the smaller sublimation machines and smaller printing
facilities are taken into account, the total installed capacity
is more than 300 machines in 2017. This ever-growing sector
demands new and faster machines. Many conventional textile
printers have partially converted their print runs into digital
format in order to cater to the domestic retail market.
Domestic retail market for women’s
Pakistan has a fast-growing apparel sector that accounts for
19% of its exports and firms are competitive with global
exporters in terms of prices. It also remains highly
concentrated in cotton products.
In this context, the domestic fashion and apparel market has
experienced a rapid growth, driven by a rise in household
incomes and growth in young population. Falling textile exports
because of the high cost of doing business has also compelled
several major textile manufacturers to launch their own fabric
and apparel brands in the local market, many of them adding
digital printing machines to meet the demand for new designs and
Fashion designers and factory owners are collaborating with
each other to produce designer lawns. In most cases, the brands
hire top fashion designers to design their range of lawn.
Lawn fabric is in huge demand in the domestic market and
abroad. Several brands like Gul Ahmed, Khaadi, Nishat, Bareeze
etc. and designers have already opened their outlets in the
Middle East, the UK and the US to cater to the demand of
affluent Pakistanis and other South Asians, particularly
Indians, living there.
In other cases, designers get their stocks produced by mills
and sell in the market under their own brands. In certain cases,
both the mill owners and designers partner to share profits.
Apart from the above-mentioned factors, the entry of
qualified, young fashion designers in the market has also helped
transform the lawn market and contributed substantially to its
growth and expansion by catering to the demand of brand
(quality) conscious urban middle-class consumers.
The retailers in Pakistan are increasingly aware of the
shorter production lead times, proximity sourcing and quick
stock replenishment strategies in the local fashion market which
will lead to more applications in digitally printed fabrics.
Therefore, the digitally produced fabrics have allowed
exclusivity of designs and production of smaller lots for higher
value addition. The fashion garment industry has emerged as one
of the important small-scale industries in Pakistan. Its
products have large demand both at home and abroad.
The local requirements of fashion garments are almost fully
met by this industry. With a population of 200 plus million
people, it is no wonder that the domestic retail market is
proving to be the salvation for many textile printers and
processors who were producing for the export market in the past.
Digital printing shall continue to see the phenomenal growth as
the cost of digital production with the digital inks being the
main cost factor coming down rapidly.
- Digital Textile Inkjet Printing: On a Roll by Marco Boer.
- FESPA Digital 2013 - London Review by Dr. Prof Marc Van
- The Evolution of Digitally Printed Textiles Arianna
- State Bank of Pakistan-Annual Reports.
- Pakistan Bureau of Statistics