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Denim Interviews

“Bangladesh is the strongest player globally in denim”

C&A, is a Dutch multinational of sustainable-oriented retail clothing stores, with European head offices in Vilvoorde, Belgium, and Düsseldorf, Germany. It has retail stores in many European countries. It serves the largest markets of Asia, North America and South America.

C&A, one of the leaders in the global fashion market, is well-positioned to continue its positive momentum with a new 2028 strategy that includes ambitious science-based climate targets, industry leadership in sustainable materials, and an even greater focus on circularity.

Figure: Sevgin SICIM, Global Sourcing, Denim Fabric Manager, C&A.

Sevgin SICIM has been working for C&A as Denim Fabric Manager. She has been in the denim industry for more than 25 years, has a bachelor’s degree in Textile Engineering and also studied Circular Economy and Sustainability Strategies.

She was awarded as ‘Influencer 2020’ by Rivet 50 which is an index of the most creative and forward-thinking leaders driving the Jeanswear industry.

Recently TextileToday had an interview with her to educate our readers on Bangladesh’s position to the global brand as a denim supplier as well as C&A’s activities on denim sourcing, sustainability, etc.

Textile Today: C&A, the Dutch multinational of fast-fashion retail, is one of the leading brands in the global apparel market. It sources a good number of products from Bangladesh, the second-largest apparel exporter in the world. How does C&A evaluate Bangladesh as denim supplier? How do you rank Bangladesh among other supplying countries?

Sevgin SICIM: In the past five years, the number of investments in denim fabric production has increased significantly again. Innovation in sustainability is a key element to become one of the preferred sourcing locations for many European brands including C&A.

Originally, Bangladesh’s denim production used to be more dominated by manufacturing and washing. Over the past eight to ten years, fabric production has started to play a key role making Bangladesh not only less dependent of imported fabrics but also one of the strongest players globally.

In order to keep being one of the leading production countries, investing into sustainable innovation along the whole supply chain is crucial: These steps include fiber, products and new washing technologies.

Textile Today: To ensure sustainability in denim, what is the role you playing?

Sevgin SICIM: C&A is already offering sustainable clothing choices without compromising the style, fit, quality and price that customers expect of us. We want to build on our achievements and make the choice for customers even easier.

Regarding Denim, C&A is one of the European market leaders and one of the world’s largest buyers of organic cotton. Over the past five years, C&A has taken important steps to transform sustainability from a niche to a widely perceived topic. Our leadership role in the field of Cradle to Cradle Certified® has been one important element.

Bangladesh’s denim fabric production has started to play a key role making Bangladesh one of the strongest players globally. In order to keep being one of the leading production countries, investing into sustainable innovation along the whole supply chain is crucial: These steps include fiber, products and new washing technologies.

In 2018, C&A developed the world’s first jeans with Cradle to Cradle Certified® at Gold Level, manufactured in cooperation with Pacific Jeans in Bangladesh. This was followed in 2020 by the introduction of the first Cradle to Cradle Certified® Platinum Level denim fabric, created in partnership with Rajby Textiles Limited and Eco Intelligent Growth (EIG).

At the core of our success, there is a very strong team. Each one of us is part of a group striving for a circular approach supported by our suppliers and business partners. We want to offer our customers long-lasting jeans available to everyone. As a denim lover, being in the industry over 25 years, I am very proud of being a member of C&A’s denim team. Ever since I joined C&A as a Denim Fabric Manager in 2015, we have been able to position the company as a denim pioneer.

Textile Today: C&A launched its new 2028 Global Sustainability Strategy in 2021. What is your part there?

Sevgin SICIM: Our current Global Sustainability Strategy 2028 is based on many years of work in the field of sustainability. The achievements linked to our 2020 sustainability goals are one example. Our strong legacy of delivering on targets has enabled us to define bolder, sharper, and even more ambitious goals. Until 2028 we aim to source 100% of our core raw materials more sustainably.

Fibers are the first building block in a sustainable value chain that requires a deep understanding to support sustainable solutions. 96% of the cotton we source across all product categories is organic certified, transitional, recycled or sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative.

By opening our Factory for Innovation in Textiles (C&A FIT) in Mönchengladbach/Germany this fall, C&A also plans to test and try new ways of producing more sustainable jeans at a scale. With our production at C&A FIT we want to gain insights that will be shared with other production facilities. With evolving technologies and processes, C&A and the industry in general can find great solutions in terms of sustainability – solutions that enable sustainable fashion to become more than a niche product.

Textile Today: Bangladeshi denim products are getting more and more popularity in global market. Bangladesh’s denim grabbed 22.47% share of total US denim import values in November 2021. What is the current denim import status of C&A from Bangladesh?

Sevgin SICIM: Over the years, Bangladesh has become one of the top three sourcing destinations. Beside the sustainability efforts I have already mentioned, we want to continue to collaborate more and more with vertical suppliers and fabric suppliers to reduce dependency on imported fabrics. Using local fabrics would have a positive impact: a lead time reduction, better material management and shorter distances of transport. These factors could make Bangladesh a preferable destination for C&A, especially with regard to our core / full year programs.

Textile Today: How do you see Bangladesh’s sustainability actions to elevate denim sector?

Sevgin SICIM: We need to give big credit to the mills and garment makers for taking actions that have raised the level of sustainability. We are aware of the challenges that remain, but the past years have shown the impact cooperation within the industry can have to accelerate progress. The changes made in a rather short period of time make us optimistic for the coming years.

My First Bangladesh visit was in 2001 when I used to work for another brand. Since then, new initiatives have changed the role sustainability is playing. In the past 5 years, leading Bangladeshi denim suppliers have received LEED certificates. This development will have a positive impact on climate and the natural environment while also taking the energy and water management to a new level.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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