Threadster is a “British Style and British Made” textiles manufacturer which continues to expand, having recently added two additional Epson dye sublimation printers and a direct-to-garment (DTG) machine, all supplied by digital transfer specialist Xpres.
In just two days the company installed two SureColor SC-F9200 dye sublimation presses and its first SC-F2000 DTG printer which together have increased its production capacity by 30%.
Two years ago, Threadster’s turnover topped the £1m mark and much of its sales success is down to its e-commerce model than enables it to offer B2B and B2C services worldwide. It operates several brands that covers everything from fashion accessories for humans to beds for dogs. It not only supplies end users but also seamstresses, brands and retailers seeking fabrics and CMT (cut, make, trim) services or sourcing uniforms or other textile products. It handles bespoke single order pieces through to 2,000-piece orders.
“Our success with international sales has come mostly from offering part-subsidised delivery options to customers with incredibly quick transit times in order to compete with local competition. For example, we currently ship to the US overnight with a delivery before 10.30am the very next day. We have huge plans to grow this even further as we begin to launch localised websites, local currency billing and some overseas fulfilment,” says Andy Evans, founder and managing director of Threadster.
The meteoric success it has had over the past five years had resulted in multiple moves to increase its floor space from the original 300 sq ft to the current 13,000 sq ft Andover site and it has increased its workforce from four to 30.
However, its approach to business remains ethical, its stated strategy being: “The Threadster Group was founded to create an economical and responsible manufacturing force that cares about more than just profit. We want to revive British craftsmanship, despite the extra costs. We want to train a new generation, despite the huge competition. We want to make a big impact on the world, but not the environment.”
This type of business needs equipment that is reliable in its uptime but also in the quality of its results. It has been supplied with Epson equipment through reseller Xpres, and for the two SC-F9200s and SC-F2000 was not a difficult decision.
“Epson has always been a brand we can trust and our decision to take these three printers was straightforward. We were happy with the quality of print tests,” says Mr Evans. “The increased print speed of the SC-F9200s had great appeal, helping us to increase our capacity but also enabling us to keep and exceed our turnaround deadlines. As you can imagine when you’re printing fabric to order and then making products from it in a single day, despatching the order between 2pm and 4pm, we have a lot to get through as early as possible in the morning to ensure there’s enough time for our machinists to make everything. The faster printing has made a noticeable difference to our morning routine.
“We had seen the results of printing with the latest HDK Black ink and wanted to take advantage of this. It has also provided cost savings because of the reduced ink usage.”
Threadster aims to operate in an environmentally friendly way and likes the Epson-Passport certified inks. “We like knowing that our ink comes from a reputable source and is completely safe for adults, children, babies and dogs alike!” he says. Even the transfer and protection papers used in the dye sublimation process are not wasted but supplied to schools and craft projects for drawing or creative projects.
The SC-F9200 printers are for polyester-based fabrics and this is a rapidly evolving market. Threadster has had great success with polyesters that replicate the feel of silk, linen and cotton and it can source fabrics for special projects although mainly it works around a core of eight makes.
The addition of Epson’s DTG printer, the SureColor SC-F2000 expands its cotton-based production. Already it is using it to produce cotton-based items, including homeware and accessories like clutch bags. DTG will expand its made-to-order, same day dispatch services to natural fibre items and will also create new opportunities for garment decoration and print fulfilment. Threadster has already launched a brand printing T-shirt design and cotton apparel and accessories. Now it is looking to use DTG for one off and small batch CMT items, including printing sewing patterns on to cotton based cloth.
“Xpres has been amazing and gone above and beyond to ensure we made the right decision. It has ensured the printers and new ink set sit well within our workflow and that every print, RIP and output unknown was tried and tested. They are incredibly open when it comes to sharing their digital printing knowledge and techniques,” says Mr Evans.