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C & A Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2159 C & A
Held at: University of the Arts London: London College of Fashion
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Full title: C & A Collection
Date(s): 1920s-1950s
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: Approximately 50 posters and 1 volume
Name of creator(s): C & A Ltd | 1922-2001 | clothing retailers and manufacturers


Administrative/Biographical history:

C & A Ltd, clothing retailers and manufacturers, was founded by Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer in Sneek, Holland, in 1841. Their descendants continued to serve with the firm in Great Britain. The first British store opened on 376/384 Oxford Street and Bird Street in 1922 (this store was completely destroyed by a German bomb in November 1940). The company aimed to produce a wide range of quality, affordable clothing, backed by large scale newspaper and magazine advertising and attractive window and in-store displays. The firm rapidly expanded during the 1920s and 1930s; stores opened in Liverpool in 1924, Birmingham in 1926, Manchester in 1928, and Leeds and Glasgow in 1929. The first C & A factory commenced production at Wilson Street, London, in 1928, but demand quickly outstripped production, and a larger factory was opened at Goswell Road in 1930. The first suburban store was opened in Peckham, South London, in 1930; new stores in Kensington, Sheffield and Newcastle opened in 1932, and in Edinburgh and Southampton in 1936. In March 1939, a third C & A store opened on Oxford Street; this was a huge flagship store named 'Hereford House', located near Marble Arch. Following World War Two, new designs in women's fashion combined with increasing consumer spending power allowed further expansion of the company in the British market. Three new shops opened during 1946-1947, seven between 1952-1959, rising to twenty between 1960-1969, and twelve in the period 1970-1972.

During the 1990s trading difficulties grew, as competition from other clothing retailers intensified on the high street, with the company attempting to attract consumers who were disinclined to spend as freely as in the 1980s. In June 2000, the company announced that it would cease trading in the UK. Most of the 109 British stores closed in January 2001, with the last British stores at Bradford and Hounslow closing in May 2001. The C & A group, based in Brussells, continues to operate some 500 stores in eleven other European countries.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of C & A Ltd, comprising records mainly related to fashion design and promotion, 1920s-1950s, namely photographs of the C & A clothing factory (CANDA MFG Co. Ltd), 1950s; campaign advertising posters for C & A in Germany, 1950s; guardbook of advertisements from the Manchester Evening News which announced the launching of C & A's Menswear department; portfolio of Margrit Seck designs for C & A adverts, 1950s; promotional videotapes, 1980s; corporate brochures and handbooks, History of Hereford House, Oxford Street; slides of advertisements, 1920s-1962.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, German.

System of arrangement:

The records are unsorted.

Conditions governing access:

Access to the collection is by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction:

No photocopying is permitted. Staff of the London College of Fashion are permitted to take photographs.

Finding aids:

The records are uncatalogued.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated to the London College of Fashion in January 2001 by C&A Ltd on the closure of their Hereford House site, Oxford Street, London.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Reproductions of hats and garments are also held by the London College of Fashion.

Records of C & A Ltd, 1920s-1990s, relating mainly to advertising and store display, are held by the London College of Printing.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July 2002

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