How Tension Fabric Is Changing Retail Advertising

by Andy Wilson
on 26th June 2020

Looking for some advice?

Despite the ongoing challenges presented by Covid19, we’re here to help. If you’re working on a large format project, and have any questions, please get in touch via our contact form – our expert project managers are on hand to answer any of your questions. 

Also known as 3D box banners, tension fabric frames are printed fabric material held in shape by an inner frame, forming a banner which can be floor-standing, adhered to a wall, or suspended from the ceiling, for almost any artistic effect. Due to their versatility and the exciting impact they can have, all kinds of brands are embracing tension fabric frames as a means of standing out in department stores with innovative flair. 

An artfully designed tension fabric frame can give a brand the edge over other retailers competing for consumers’ attention. The possibilities offered by their shape and potential suspension provide unprecedented opportunities for inhabiting the physical retail space, in unexpected and thought provoking ways… 

What are tension fabric frames?

vashi tension fabric system

Tension fabric frames have two key elements:

Graphics printed on fabric:

To create the 3D installation, several fabric panels are printed with the chosen design. These are removable, and can be stored for reuse if needed. 

Aluminium frames:

Configurable in almost any shape, including cylinders, pyramids, and the classic cube or cuboid, the frames give the sleek box banners their three-dimensionality.

Celebrating simplicity: tension fabric frames are easy to use

Tension fabric frames can look quite complicated. With these kind of impressive and unique installations, brands might assume that putting them together and installing them must be a complicated, expensive process. However, despite their sophisticated finish, a standout feature of 3D box banners is now accessible, affordable, and easy to use they are… 

Ordering tension fabric frames is simple, following a consultation with a printing supplier to identify the best shape, size and to go through site-specific considerations — and due to the inexpensive materials used, a suitable design is likely to fall within budget for most projects. 

Transporting fabric frames is simple, they’re lightweight, and can be rolled up into a compact tube making them efficient and affordable to transport. 

Assembling tension fabric frames involves using silicone edging to attach the fabric to the frames. Each section of the tension fabric can be fitted with blackout backing to ensure the designs remain clear. 

Installing the fabric box banners is easy — they can be securely fastened to walls or ceilings with almost-invisible suspension devices, or displayed on stands to appear free-standing. 

Removing the box-banners can be done just as fast — the tension fabric detaches from the frames in seconds, and can be removed intact if they are to be reused, while the frames can be fitted instantly with other fabric prints. 

A high-quality printing supplier such as PressOn can strategise all your design needs with you — even rendering the fabric prints the same day the graphic designs are received — as well as taking care of the assembly, installation and removal.

Eco-conscious advertising

Green fingers

In an era of eco-conscious living, sustainability is an increasingly important consideration in all endeavours. Tension fabric frames triumph over many traditional forms of printed advertising in this regard in several different ways. Fabric box banners are: 

Reusable. Both the aluminium frame and the tension fabric that hangs from it can be reused, as, unlike traditional forms of printed OOH, tension fabric is not for one-time use, and neither is it ruined by the removal process. This means that there is no need to reprint designs when the time comes to display them again. As for the aluminium frames, they can be remoulded as needed to give shape to future out-of-the-box designs. 

Made of eco-friendly materials. In addition to the frames and fabrics being reusable, tension fabric is a more eco-friendly choice of printing substrate than vinyl or PVC, which are traditionally used in large format printing for retail advertising. By selecting tension fabric frames over other forms of printed media, a brand can make a novel reduction of its carbon footprint. 

Biodegradable. Tension fabric is fully biodegradable, meaning that, when the time comes to say farewell to a given advertising campaign, retailers can rest easy in the knowledge that no lurking plastics will pertain to it. Fresh projects can be embarked on with a guilt-free eco-conscience. 

Stunning effects can be created with tension fabric frames

tension fabric frame viewed from below

Although 3D box banners are relative newcomers to the retail advertising scene, they’re making a big impression on its landscape, due to the broad spectrum of effects they can be used to create… 

Kia Xceed asked PressOn to print and install graphics across multiple locations in the UK for shopping centre giant Intu. This was an integrated campaign for car manufacturer Kia’s new Xceed model , using several different forms of printed media, and the enormous tension fabric cube suspended from the ceiling of the Trafford Centre in Manchester was its show-stopping element. 

A feat of careful construction, the unusually large installation was 5 metres high, with a depth and width of 3 meters. Printed to a blockout fabric to ensure design clarity and finished by stitching a silicone adhesive to the edges, the cube was elevated to the ceiling and hung triumphantly by specialist rope access installers.

The BBC’s series His Dark Materials hired Limited Space to create a unique and memorable campaign for their television series His Dark Materials. Limited Space wanted an integrated campaign across various different mediums, including a set of impactful tension fabric frames. 

PressOn produced 2 banners for each of the venues – the Bullring, Bluewater, Derby, Lakeside & Watford – each banner was double-sided, which meant we needed to produce 4 graphics for each venue. 

Vashi and swarovski both made use of tension fabric frames during projects they worked on with PressOn. 

Offering their potential clients a more experience-focussed campaign, Swarovski engaged a number of unusual installations, including a fully-interactive street-side ‘sparkle box’, and two large fabric frame box banners measuring 3m x 3m x 3m.

Vashi also made use of the fabric box banner last year, to equally impressive effect. Their ‘I made this for you’ campaign capitalised on their product offering (custom-made jewellery and engagement rings) with a simple but impactful combination of messaging and imagery.

These cuboid banners, which measured 3m x 5m x 3m, featured a simple black background similar to the velvet upon which jewellery is often displayed. On this, images of Vashi’s luxury diamond products (such as earrings and rings) were displayed over the simple, handwritten text ‘I made this for you’.

Get in touch 

If you’re curious about how tension fabric frames could help you frame your brand’s messages in new ways within the retail space, our friendly team would be delighted to talk through projects and ideas, and can help you at every stage of the process. Contact us.

Request a callback

Looking for more advice or a quote?

Enter your phone number and we'll give you a call back.

Prefer to email? Send your enquiry to

Written by
Andy Wilson Managing Director