Like no other fashion label it influenced millions of German’s attitudes towards life. With 456 stores it can be found in every big city in Germany and is known by 98 percent of the German population: C&A. But only a few know that the success is owed to one big family: The Brenninkmeyer family. With an estimate fortune of more than 25 Billion euros they belong to the richest families in Europe. But in public barley anyone knows about the entrepreneurial family.
For the film „Germany’s great clans – The C&A Story” for the first time family members agreed to give a TV interview. This way they themselves tell their story which originates in the westphalian Mettingen. Here their ancestors lived as poor farmers until, in the 16th century, some of them got the idea to work as hiking mercers in Holland. This is where the beginnings of their clothing imperium lies / can be found: In 1841 the founder brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeyer settled down in the Dutch city Sneek opening a retail store named after their first names : C&A – Clemens and August.
Since this day C&A grew to be one of the most important players in the European fashion industry – never leaving the families hands; by now in the sixth generation. Over and over they managed to create innovations: They democratised German fashion by making ready-to-wear clothing in set sizes a great success; in the sixties they tidied up the strict dress code, by pushing the mini skirt and the bikini to their break through; in the nineties they overcame a crisis with their own strength, which dragged the company down to the abyss. But the family history has a dark side, like the opportune behaviour in Nazi-Germany.
FIRST BROADCAST: Tuesday, September 20th 2016, 8:15 PM on ZDF.