Located in Mönchengladbach, the Factory for Innovation in Textiles (FIT) allows the European fashion retail chain to keep a tight-knit supply chain that reduces its environmental footprint and gives it better transparency into all of its processes.
Named Forever Denim, the “Made in Europe” collection features three jeans styles apiece for men and for women made with local organic cotton, Tencel and renewable energy. The range consists of a women’s high-rise straight leg jean in light and dark wash variations, as well as a high-rise flare jean in a light wash. The men’s line features a straight leg jean in medium and dark washes and a tapered jean in a dark wash.
All styles retail for 59 euros ($65) and are available now in stores and online. Women’s denim is offered in European sizes 36-46, which equates to American sizes 6-16, while men’s denim is offered in waist sizes 30-40 and inseams 32-34.
The carbon-neutral factory opened in the fall of 2021 with automated processes throughout the jeans laundry and sewing stages of production. C&A worked with the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, the Textile Academy NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia), RWTH Aachen University and various startups to develop the facility and onboard 100 staff members. It aims to initially produce 400,000 jeans per year and eventually double its capacity to 800,000 jeans per year.
The FIT Lab within the factory allows for constant progress that has already resulted in the development of robotics process automation, an energy management system and new methods of recycling waste. Traditional sewing lines were also replaced with automated machinery that collaborates with workers for more efficient production.
C&A promoted the locally produced jeans and new factory in a targeted social media push encouraging users to virtually look inside the facility and meet some of the workers. The campaign gave customers the opportunity to showcase their Forever Denim styles on Instagram using the #wearthechange hashtag.
The factory follows through on goals set in C&A’s 2020 sustainability report, which include sustainably sourcing all core materials and replacing half of its single-use plastic with more sustainable alternatives by 2028. It will also ensure that seven out of 10 of its garments will have a longer life. In 2020, C&A produced the world’s first 100 percent recyclable denim certified at Gold Level by Cradle to Cradle.
Locally made denim is a popular venture for brands including sustainable Dutch label Denham, which recently debuted a Spring 2022 collection of jeans made entirely in Italy. German denim brand Closed has a similar model, with 82 percent of its products made in Europe.
At the beginning of 2022, the company cut ties with longstanding denim brand partner Mustang to fully focus on its in-house denim.