Quality, brand heritage and fair trade practices are factors we look for when finding factories to work with. In Zottegem, Belgium is a family run knitwear factory that we have been working with for years at Can Pep Rey. The team are passionate, precise and take pride in all that they do. Here is an insight into the factory and some pictures we received from a day at work producing our knitwear pieces.
Can you tell us about the heritage of the business?
The business was founded in 1924. Originally the factory was in the middle of the town Zottegem which happened to be a textile region back in the days. In 2022 we are the only textile company that is left in Zottegem. The family invested in their factory and used the local knowledge of their employees to compete with other textile factories all over the world.
Over the almost 100 years we are existing, there is not much left that we haven’t knitted. We used to knit children’s clothing and sweaters for the Belgian Army, we are focusing on high-end knitwear.
Where is your factory located?
Could you run us through the different steps of creating a knitwear garment?
- When a yarn is chosen, we knit a swatch (fabric sample) in different tensions.
- The tension of the swatch defines the stitch and row length.
- Measurements of the swatch, we calculate how many stitches we need to knit the entire garment.
- Programming of a garment could be seen as an R&D project
- Every garment has its own software which makes it possible to knit them.
How many members are currently working in your team?
There are 44 members in our team. We have six knitters, warehouse assistant, administration team, 6 programmers and 20 people working in our confection department.
What time does your morning start? Do you have a ritual to get the team together?
On Monday we gather in the meeting room with the team to eat cookies, this also happens to be the production and collection meeting where everything is discussed.
How would you define the word “quality” in the textile industry?
There are so many sections in our factory – development team which helps with the choice of yarns, the programmers, our knitters, the people assembling the sweaters in our confection department. There is so much knowledge within our team, some of our employees have worked here their entire life and their knowledge is appreciated.
What music do you listen to when you’re working?
From the programmer office. We listen to Beyonce on a good day, Adele on a less good day. The choice of music could go from melancholic to hardstyle. Only Taylor Swift would be less welcome during the programming.
Who is one of the longest members of the team?
Ludo Cousy. He is the 4th generation of the knitting from the family and started working here as a teenager helping in the factory. Ludo is the oldest one of 4 brothers.
While helping during the holidays, he learned how to iron, do a quality control and could blend in everywhere in the factory.
When he was a baby, he was sometimes sleeping in between the machines, apparently the noise of the knitting machines made him calm and sleep well.
Almost nothing seems impossible for him, we should be able to make everything with stitches. Challenging and inspiring for the entire team!
Tell us some fun facts we may not know about working with you.
- Our team loves cookies and we have some coffee addicts!
- We are lucky to have a patio and have two bunnies who live there very happily.
- We have an international team of talented people!
- Some of our machines are older than the people who work here.
- Once the panels are knitted, there is still a lot of manual work to be done. This is real craftsmanship. An average of 15 different people are working on the same garment piece.
- Trees took over the company from her uncle Wim and father Ludo. She is the first woman leading the company on her own!