Interview with Buck Kim & Raymond Cheng

Face2Face
Buck Kim & Raymond Cheng
Buck Kim & Raymond Cheng
President & Director of Sales for Asia-Pacific respectively
Kornit Digital Ltd
Kornit Digital Ltd

Coming back, how long does it take for a manufacturer to make the transition to say, DTG?

Kim: In this case (that of FMO-ENVS), they finished the installation two weeks ago. Then we imparted the training on how to operate the machines. Now, they are ready for production. [The bigger Kornit Allegro takes about two weeks to install, which includes calibrating, etc.] So, within a month or so, you can be in business. Conventional printing is about mass production, but less design. In case of digital, it can be less quantity but more designs. Here, the purchase order (PO) can even be for just 20 metres. If you get POs for more customisation, then digital would be a great solution.

And how efficient are these; how many garments can these print?

Cheng: The Avalanche 1000 can print about 100-130 pieces per hour. 
Kim: Our company has different models for different requirements.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, which are your major markets?

Kim: We have the most number of installations in China. But since our machines are about customisation i.e. small quantities and many designs, we see a change. This year, Indonesia, India, Japan and also China, have been booming.

Can you speak about the customisation bit?

Kim: Very elementary... if you want to print t-shirt with your family photo on it, you can do so with this machine. 
Cheng: Customisation is only one of the advantages of digital printing.

Customisation just of garments (in terms of fits, sizes, etc) has been happening in a lot of places. And now you have customisation of the printing on the garments. Do you see the two converging sometime in the future?

Cheng: Yes, we are seeing this kind of a direction in the market. 
Kim: The business models are changing. Today a manufacturer might give you a small order comprising 100 styles. How are you going to deal with it? The other thing is that today companies are trying to reduce their inventory. So, when you manufacture a big amount of garments or fabric, you cannot be so sure that you can sell them out within a timeframe. Inventory itself costs. Therefore, people try to reduce their inventory. That's another reason to go in for customisation. For focusing on many designs within a short span of time, you can reduce the inventory as also costs and time, and give it to the customer immediately. This is how the business model is changing: less inventory, faster response time, different designs.

There seem to be two things here: the ability to customise anything, as well as engage in mass production. Do you see manufacturers caught in a bind over this i.e. customisation vs mass production?

Kim: Yes, but if you look at things from the demand point of view, the demand for mass production still remains. There is no doubt that as far as mass production is concerned, India remains big. But the market is also about demand. If you look at Zara or H&M, each design is probably there for only one week. They no longer produce for a whole season. You see a product in a shop today, and the next time you visit, it is gone. This is what is happening in the fashion world. As we visit India, a country known for mass production, seeing people going in for a different way of production is amazing. He (as an exporter) can assemble ten samples within a very short time for his customers to select.
Published on: 23/02/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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