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C&A Ramps Up Denim Production at German Factory

C&A is racking up sustainability achievements.

In its new “Sustainability Report 2021,” the German company said it sourced 99 precent more sustainable cotton, 41 percent of its man-made cellulosic fibers was more “sustainably sourced” and 79 percent of the chemicals used were approved as “safe.” 

One of its biggest wins for the year, however, was the start of denim production at C&A Factory for Innovation in Textiles (C&A FIT) in Mönchengladbach, Germany, a renovated factory with digital, automatized and CO2-free technologies specialized for sustainable jeans production. 

The facility, according to the report, is powered by 100 percent renewable electricity from on-site solar and a wind farm in Wachtendonk, and about 50 percent of the water used is recycled. Finishing machines are equipped with modern systems to reduce the consumption of water and chemicals by up to 80 percent compared to conventional finishing.

“C&A FIT demonstrates our commitment to creating a more digital and sustainable textile production and supply chain,” the report said.

Completed in September 2021, the facility initially hired and trained about 100 employees for the sewing and laundry departments and has produced six styles for C&A’s Forever Denim Collection. The report says production is ramping up starting with 400,000 jeans per year and could expand to 800,000. 

C&A FIT is among the ways C&A is working to clean up its denim business and help others in their own sustainable evolution.

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In addition to being part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign initiative to promote circular design, the company open-sourced its Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified jeans guidance to support others in the industry. 

In 2020, the company bowed the first-ever Platinum level C2C Certified denim apparel made in partnership with long-term supplier Rajby Textiles. Called Beluga Denim, the organic cotton fabric is made with 100 percent renewable resources and is fully traceable. The fabric manufacturing process is 100 percent carbon neutral, and the water used to make it kept in a closed loop system. Since 2021, some Forever Denim products are manufactured with this fabric. 

To help raise consumer awareness of the styles, C&A launched a social media campaign starring environmental influencers and founders, and “encouraged leaders to walk the talk” by choosing to wear its sustainable denim. The campaign also invited COP26 attendees to wear the Forever Denim collection at the Glasgow last October.

The report follows the launch of C&A’s new brand strategy to reposition it as a “European consumer-centric fashion brand” that is committed to affordability, sustainability and inclusivity.