Textile Hub and Oliphan set to launch

Sydney large format digital firm Next Printing is launching two new ventures this week, a specialist fabric printer called the Textile Hub, and Oliphan, a photo printing service.

The Textile Hub is aimed at bringing fabric printing to the local market, where most manufacturers have gone overseas. Julian Lowe, the general manager of the new enterprise was previously a  sales and marketing manager with Next.

Lowe says “Next does dye sub and large format for advertising and retail, using 3.2m wide fabric. With the Textile Hub, we are focusing on fashion and on short run quick turnaround

“In Australian clothing Think Positive prints for everyone, it is a good market to enter, as there is only one competitor.

“Direct to print digital textile printing used to be internally done at Jets Swimwear, it was 100 per cent Australian, but then the manufacturing went to China. They left three guys with experience and machines, so we have brought those three on board.”

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The Textile Hub is looking at providing shorter runs and turning them round quicker than is possible through overseas suppliers.

Lowe says, “Overseas, they charge per kilo or metres. We dealt with one designer who had 90 different designs, and they were facing with a minimum for metres, costs of a few million dollars. They can have minimums of around 5000m in one warehouse. Here, we can make smaller volumes available to designers and we can have them ready and shipped quicker.

“Our launch is March 20, but we have already picked up a few fashion brands. I saw a real need in the industry. We see fashion designers have to become graphic designers, because there is not a lot of work in the Australian industry. Textile Hub is a start up and we are getting work from brands wanting sampling for instance, rather than wanting a completed range.

‘I was a sales and marketing manager at Next and I saw an opportunity, I have been interested in doing this for a long time. I was able to speak to Steven, the operational sales manager at Digital Textile Printing and find clients, a space and equipment. Next was supportive and I was able to relinquish my previous position.

 “We were able to buy a complete working factory with coating steamers and a couple of printers. The previous tenant is in house, it is a cutting team, which are not part of our brand but they exist upstairs, they have cutters and pattern makers, seamstresses. Many of the makers coming get their fabric cut and printed for manufacture or for their brand.

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 “We started operating in September last year, it was a soft launch. We were building up the client base, making connection with the unis, teaching Tafe students and connecting with high schools. Not a lot of education is available in digital textile printing. An article in the Australian Financial Review came out a few weeks ago and a lot of students have been coming down to learn. Finally, someone can teach them in this area.”

 “Next has a significant share of the shop. It had looked at textile printing previously, but it lacked the power and the space to do it.

“We have four staff at the moment, myself and the three guys who came across from Digital Textile Printing. They were the production from there and they have been doing this for a long time, they know what they are doing. We have a strategy to expand for the next five to ten years, we will have to see how we fare for stage one.”

The other new venture from Next, Oliphan, offers photo books, print sets, framed prints and canvases.

Next will be hosting its launch for both The Textile Hub and Oliphan on Tuesday March 20, at Textile’s Saint Peters facility from 6-9pm. For more information and to register for the event, visit here.

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