European fashion retail chain C&A is bringing textile production back to Germany with the opening of a new jeans-focused innovation center in Mönchengladbach this fall.
The company collaborates with Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, Textile Academy NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia), RWTH Aachen University and various startups to set up its Factory for Textile Innovation (FIT) with best-in-class technology.
“Together with our partners, we want to set new standards in textile manufacturing,” said Giny Boer, CEO of C&A Europe. “We are delighted to be producing again in the heart of Europe. C & A’s FIT will combine process digitization with sustainability, creating new standards for global production. “
The carbon neutral facility will include highly automated processes throughout the laundry and sewing stages of jeans production, with plans to start production almost immediately: The first pants produced in the factory should be available next year.
C&A will work with Textile Academy NRW to hire and train 100 staff to meet its goal of producing 400,000 jeans per year to begin with, and eventually grow to 800,000 per year. The company hopes the installation is just the start of a major milestone in the denim industry, with Detlef Braun of Textile Academy NRW calling it “an important development for the textile industry in our region and a sign of other innovative projects to come. “
Local production has become an increasingly important strategy for businesses in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has derailed supply chains around the world. Companies immediately understood the need for easy access to fabrics and better control of production.
C&A joins other big fashion players with their own denim innovation centers. Fast Retailing, the parent company of J Brand and Uniqlo, produces clothing from its Los Angeles Denim Innovation Center. There, the company devised a finishing process that reduces the amount of water used to achieve authentic worn looks by 99%. At PVH’s Denim Center in Amsterdam, advances in circular production have led to product lines such as 100% recycled jeans from Tommy Hilfiger.
C&A has already made strides in sustainable denim, becoming the first to develop jeans with Gold Cradle to Cradle (C2C) level certification in 2018, followed by Platinum level certification in 2020. Its “Beluga Denim”, a 100% cotton denim developed in partnership with Pakistani denim factory Rajby and C2C Eco Intelligent Growth (EIG) assessor, is completely carbon neutral at the manufacturing stage and produced using a system of closed circuit process water.