Digital chic

Updated: 2012-12-19 09:49

By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)

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It also consumes less water, says Gong Yan, an associate professor at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.

But at the same time, he says, it has led to ink-safety issues in the industry.

"A lot of inks contain excessive amount of heavy metals that pose a definite threat to human health," Gong, a member of the All-China Environment Federation's research committee on environmental protection standards, says in an e-mail.

Official random testings of Chinese digital print clothing, he says, have repeatedly detected the presence of elements like arsenic, mercury, lead and manganese.

"Some were almost a hundred times more than the acceptable level, so there's still a big hidden danger when it comes to garment safety."

Since 95 percent of ink used in the domestic digital print industry is imported, Gong says it's imperative that China sets product standards that promote sustainability. Ink-exporting countries, he says, have rigid standards for the products they consume, but have lower standards for inks sold to China.

Claxton, whose digital prints are manufactured in her native England, as well as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Hangzhou, was surprised to hear about Gong's findings.

"I've never seen anything in the (Chinese) factories that look different from when I'm in the UK factory," she says. "I took samples when I went back home in the summer, and I said, 'Look, this is what I'm getting from my Chinese factories.'

"In fact, on one specific fabric base, the UK factory said they couldn't achieve the same print level," Claxton says. "I can't complain, really."

And in such a new design field in China, changes are bound to happen every day.

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