Candiani Denim's new U.S. design center

After 78 years in business, Italy’s Candiani Denim has unveiled it first design center in the U.S.

Nestled in downtown Los Angeles, near the headquarters of many of the nation’s premium jeans brands and innovative wash houses, the 7,000-square-foot space represents a merging of creativity and industry, two of the top traits that drive Southern California’s denim industry. Red brick walls and concrete floors offset the shiny new equipment that Candiani installed to help it prepare various recipes for designers who want to experiment with different treatments on Candiani’s fabric.

In addition to the laser machine built by Jeanologia, the center houses a spraying booth, iron press, oven, ozone tumbler and pairs of washing machines, dryers and wet processing equipment. Upholding an ongoing pledge to transform the denim industry into a more sustainable business, Candiani said it expects to consume less water than a standard dry cleaner.

“It’s quite an effort to make this happen,” said global manager Alberto Candiani, representing the latest generation working in the family business.

While Candiani first revealed plans for the Los Angeles project last year, it set the foundation for the center two years ago, when it opened a development and design center inside its mill in Milan, where it produces more than 27 million yards of fabric annually. It has welcomed customers from brands such as G-Star Raw, Denham and Diesel to do research there. Even representatives of California-based labels like Hudson Jeans and Lucky Brand have made the most of the facilities in Italy.

“It proved that it is the perfect plan,” Candiani said.

The Los Angeles center also lets jeans makers differentiate their designs from their competitors.

“To create fabric from scratch, you have to create thousands, ten thousands of yards,” Candiani said.

With help from the four technicians who are scheduled to rotate through the center from Italy once a month, customers can use the same fabric for which their rivals have access, but treat it in a way to make it their own.

“They can replicate what we do here anywhere,” he said.

Charging per sample made, Candiani’s services could be credited toward its most loyal and biggest customers. In anticipation of the center ramping up to be fully functioning in a month, executives of Closed and Black Orchid joined Alain Lafourcade from Siwy Denim, Peter Kim from Hudson Jeans, Mark Werts from American Rag Cie and others on Wednesday night at an opening party, where guests nibbled on Italian canapés and paid respect to Alberto Candiani’s father, GianLuigi.

Not all designers see the obvious need of working in Candiani’s design center. Catherine Ryu, creative director of Citizens of Humanity, already has unfettered access to her own in-house laundry. Still, Candiani said the doors are always open to Citizens and AG, another established brand that also operates its own laundry.

“This is going to be superhelpful in problem-solving and quality control,” Alberto Candiani said. “It’s not only about creating. It’s also about sales.”