Textile Takeaways: Designers, Color Teams and the Feasibility Problem

By Ken Butts, Global Key Account Team Manager

 

The theme for the 2019 AATCC International Conference was “innovating today for a challenging tomorrow.” Some of the most influential names in the textile industry gathered in Fort Worth, Texas to discuss these challenges, many of which are already being faced today.

 

One presentation from Christy Velez-Douglas, Senior Manager of Color at JCPenney and a Datacolor customer, touched upon a challenge we hear about all too often: feasibility problems.

 

Or in other words, wasting time on the impossible.

 

As Christy highlighted, so much valuable time can be wasted while designers and color teams discuss colors and fabrics. While the reality that a certain color may not work on a chosen fabric will ultimately become known to all players involved, this often doesn’t happen until later in the production process. As a result, it costs valuable time and money when production timelines are already short.

 

Here’s an all-too-common scenario: A designer may send a specific shade to a supplier. Despite knowing that the color and fabric combination requested will not work, that supplier tries to get the closest match possible. This sets off a back-and-forth process, wasting weeks of time and money shipping samples. Meanwhile the dyer knew from the very beginning based on the recipe and theoretical color difference being displayed that they were not going to get a good shade match.

 

It’s an understandable response. Time pressures put on brands trickle down to mills, resulting in the best-case-scenario being a less-than-ideal color match. So many decisions are made before that mill even receives a request, putting them in a difficult position: choose between meeting deadlines and getting color right.

 

Combatting Feasibility Issues Before It’s Too Late

 

With digital color management software, color teams are able to check if a color can be achieved on the selected substrate.  For example, Match Textile will generate theoretical recipes and generate a theoretical reflectance curve to assess on-screen. This information can be shared with designers from day one, giving them the ability to proceed or cancel the color.

 

Many times, a designer will see a close match and the dyeing can proceed. When the match is far from close, valuable time and money will be saved. As a result, mills only dye requests they can match and the likelihood of first-shot approvals increases dramatically. It’s further proof that streamlining color across your supply chain has a positive impact on costs, quality and speed.