Otto Group was a founder of the initiative, and began sourcing clothing from the continent around two years ago with its first orders in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya for its namesake and Bonprix brands

Otto Group was a founder of the initiative, and began sourcing clothing from the continent around two years ago with its first orders in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya for its namesake and Bonprix brands

The Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative says Bonprix, part of the German mail order and e-commerce giant Otto Group, was the largest buyer of its sustainable cotton in 2016, along with fellow German retailers Tchibo and Rewe Group.

Otto Group was a founder of the initiative and began sourcing clothing from the continent around two years ago with its first orders in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya for its namesake and Bonprix brands.

Today, some 30 companies and brands use CmiA cotton for their textiles. Other top buyers include German workwear company Engelbert Strauss, German clothing retailer Ernsting's Family, Asos, Aldi Süd and Danish apparel company Bestseller.

Meanwhile, smaller fashion labels such as Hiitu from Germany, Cooekid from Great Britain, Weaverbirds from Denmark and Abaana from Uganda also made an important contribution by purchasing the sustainable fibre.

"In view of the many heterogeneous buyers of Cotton made in Africa cotton, it is clear that sustainable cotton from Africa can be used for a number of different product groups," says Christian Barthel, director supply chain management. "Our partners successfully show that Cotton made in Africa cotton can lay a sustainable foundation for many branches."

Last month, the initiative said growing demand for its sustainable cotton saw around 50m CmiA labelled textiles put onto the market in 2016 – helping lift license revenues by 70% year-on-year.

The figures are included in its annual report for 2016, which also notes that as the largest label for sustainable cotton from Africa, CmiA certified 30% of cotton production in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cotton made in Africa used in 50m textile items last year