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Digital Textile Printing

Materials for mountain climbers

An outdoor sports clothing store window gets a new look.



Eastern Mountain Sports, a retail clothing store that carries apparel and accessories for mountain climbers and those involved in other rigorous sports, came calling to Portland Color based in Portland, Maine, to develop a new graphics concept for its storefronts. The company had previously used 4 x 7-foot vinyl banners containing plain text in its windows, along with mannequins, which were expensive and required attention from staff on a regular basis.

Portland Color ( immediately thought of using photo images on fabric to fill the window space and showcase the company’s products. “The thing that was exciting about this project was, in Eastern Mountain Sports’ previous design, the store windows were not very useful to the client,” says Paul Maddrell, Portland Color’s creative director. “With our redesign and use of digitally printed textiles for banner applications, the window space now has tremendous impact and represents the brand really well.”

Eastern Mountain Sports sent digital images-high-energy action shots of kayaking, mountain biking, and rock climbing-to Portland Color for the job. But there was an issue with the files: “They were originally shot for a catalog, so they were not high enough resolution for banner size,” explains Maddrell. “But because our prepress staff are professional photographers, they’re really artists and knew how to optimize the quality of the files. It was the technicians in this case that made high quality at this scale achievable [using Photoshop],” Maddrell explains.

Maddrell and his Portland Color team created 10 x 15-foot fabric images that filled the entire window frame, printing onto recycled fabrics with the company’s latest addition: a new HP Designjet L65500 with HP Latex inks. “The inks have no toxic elements and don’t give off any VOCs,” he points out.

These banners (six to 20 per store) were created on Dazian Fabrics’ Eco-Celtic Cloth and Micron Mesh fabric made from recycled materials, which was an important factor to Eastern Mountain Sports as well as to Portland Color, which strives to be very eco-friendly.

“We were early advocates of sustainable materials, and Eastern Mountain appreciated us being able to move them from vinyl banners that used toxic materials to recycled materials that reduce the carbon footprint,” says Maddrell. “In addition, for changeout twice a year of 15 to 20 windows in 20 different stores, it’s a lot less expensive for us to ship fabric than to ship panels with mounted prints. This adds to the reduction of the carbon footprint.”


These two particular fabrics were chosen because of their different opacities, Maddrell explains: “We wanted people to be able to see into the store from the outside and to be able to see outside from in the store, but we also wanted good image quality and great print-through.”

Thirty total employees participated in the job, including the in-house finishing of top and bottom pole pockets and hot knifing of the sides.



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