As models shimmer down the runway at an elite fashion show, all eyes are on the cutting-edge designs they wear.
But what the assembled cognoscenti may not realise is that this is fashion with a difference — produced straight off a printer thanks to eco-friendly innovation from a pioneering Israeli firm.
Kornit, which is based in Rosh HaAyin, east of Tel Aviv, has devised a technological system that promises to revolutionise the garment industry and combat global warming.
At the moment, fashion consumes vast amounts of energy and leaves an enormous carbon footprint as clothes are produced a long way from where they are eventually sold, entailing vast shipping costs.
The UK is becoming ever more dependent on imports from Asia, often China and Bangladesh.
Across the world, fashion is the second most polluting industry of all, with 21 million tons of textiles and 28 trillion litres of water wasted annually.
Maison Artc fashion made using Kornit's technology on the runway (Photo: Haydon Perrior)
Campaigners point to other ecological damage, including the pollution from ink dumped in rivers and streams.
Much of the eco-cost comes from retailers making orders that may be far in of excess what they will be able to sell months into the future when the shipments come in.
It is estimated that hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of garments are lost through waste every year. Kornit’s executives believe they have come up with a solution that eliminates the need for overproduction, brings the manufacturing process closer to the customers and utilises eco-friendly ink.
Their technology enables retailers or designers to send an order to a local printhouse, also known as a “fulfiller”.
Designs are printed directly onto the fabric and the garments produced in just a few minutes.
The system eliminates the need for long waiting times, and helps retailers to minimise waste: instead of having to make large orders months in advance, they can quickly and flexibly respond to demand.
Kornit's technology in action - a complex pattern being printed directly onto the fabric for a dress (Photo: Ben Bloch)
Kornit chief commercial officer Jecka Glasman told the JC: “It’s really supporting the transformation of the fashion industry, overcoming the limitation of overproduction and issues with inventory, overcoming the challenges of unsustainable methods of production, overcoming the challenge of being unable to predict enough in advance what is it that the consumer wants, and being able to produce anything that they want, and only that.”
The brilliant results have been on show for the world to see at runway shows in Tel Aviv, Los Angeles and this month in London.
As Ms Klasman describes it, the potential is almost unlimited, extending even to consumers around the world seeing a fashion item while watching an event online and then ordering it to be produced locally within a day or two. Kornit’s chief executive Ronen Samuel said: “This is not an illusion; this is not the future.
“This is already happening.”