Next Level Apparel has taken action after reports that one of its suppliers had sourced cotton from China’s Xinjiang region where the use of forced labour has led to worldwide boycotts.

The US-based garment supplier has quarantined a small amount of its cotton fabric inventory after it tested positive for originating from Xinjiang.

It also promised that tougher supply-chain checks will make sure that no more fabric is made from cotton from the region.

Next Level Apparel was alerted to the use of cotton from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in its fabric by Tyler Merritt, CEO and co-founder of US-based clothing company Nine Line Apparel.

In a statement, Next Level Apparel said it took reports of forced labour “very seriously”, adding: “We have been engaging with multi-stakeholder working groups to assess collective solutions that will help preserve the integrity of our global supply chains.

“We will continue to collaborate with industry associations such as the American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Fair Labor Association as well as with industry experts, partners, stakeholders and other organisations to understand, evaluate and address this critical global issue.

“We are concerned about reports of forced labour in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). We have been conducting ongoing diligence with our suppliers in China and other global regions, and require in all instances, that all business partners certify their compliance.

“The Next Level Apparel Code of Conduct requirements prohibit any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labour, including detailed provisions for freedom of movement and prohibitions on discrimination based on ethnic background or religion. We continue to regularly engage with all of our suppliers to evaluate compliance with Next Level Apparel’s Code of Conduct.

“Per our policies, forced labour is considered a zero-tolerance issue and any confirmed instances of forced labour by our suppliers with any factories and mills that produce garments, accessories or fabric, or use of cotton grown, in Xinjiang may result in termination of the business relationship.”

Reports of forced labour in Xinjiang have led to fabric and garment internationally to take steps to avoid sourcing cotton from the region, boosted by last year’s US ban on imports.

In March this year, Next Level Apparel announced a new partnership with Oritain, which uses forensic science to verify the origin of products and raw materials, as part of its efforts to ensure the cotton fibres used in its products are fully traceable.

It is also transitioning all incoming fabric to 100% US-grown cotton and formed partnerships with GK Global and Grupo M, which have facilities in Central and South America, to strengthen nearshore production accessibility.