By Jeff Leagon
If you were to show someone two versions of a printed image, one on fabric and one on another medium, like vinyl, paper or film, chances are that they would not only tell you that they prefer the one on fabric, but they would reach out and touch the fabric image. It’s almost an involuntary reflex.
One of the real pioneers of the digitally printable textile industry explained to me why this happens. He said that people are naturally drawn to textiles because of the important roles they play in our lives. Through our clothing, bedding and other home furnishings, fabrics protect us and make us comfortable. The constant, positive interaction we have with fabrics creates a real, emotional connection that’s always there, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
The fabrics we associate with these feelings of comfort are usually made of cotton or other natural fibers. Most fabrics available today for graphics applications are made of polyester due to polyester’s compatibility with the dye-sublimation process. Polyester has other advantages, such as strength, durability and resistance to moisture and mildew, which makes it better suited for graphics applications than natural fibers.
There are polyester fabrics available that have the look and feel of cotton. Aurora Specialty Textiles Group’s Linen, Upholstery, Twill, Muslin and Oxford styles are all 100-percent polyester but are made of spun yarn, which gives them the look and feel of natural fiber fabrics. This natural look and feel is critical to making that personal connection.
Sure, the psychology is interesting, but it’s even more interesting if we can use it to make our businesses more successful. We can do that by always being conscious of that positive, emotional connection that exists between people and fabrics, and using it as a selling tool.
Whether we are fabricators, print service providers, graphic designers, fabric manufacturers or media distributors, we should be sharing this message with prospective customers at every opportunity. It’s something they already know, but if they’re conscious of it they’ll realize that fabric is the best choice. Through fabric, the message they want to communicate will be received at a very personal and basic level.