Blank garment supplier Next Level Apparel has announced a strategic partnership with textile company GK Global to bring fabric production closer to its home.

The link-up will provide Next Level Apparel with shorter lead times and reduced exposure to geopolitical risks, putting it on course for 100% US-grown cotton for its entire apparel line.

Next Level Apparel (NLA) is based in Los Angeles and a major supplier of blank garments in North America but it has expanded further into the UK and the rest of Europe through its acquisition of garment supplier Stedman.

In January, Next Level Apparel announced it had stepped up its requirement to have all fabric suppliers use 100% US-grown cotton for orders placed after 1 February 2023 – well ahead of the company’s original goal. It has also implemented new origin-testing protocols to further ensure the integrity of its supply chain.

GK’s textile operations have been established in Central America and Mexico for more than 30 years. It was one of the first foreign textile investors in Honduras and now has vertically integrated production throughout the textile supply chain including sustainable fibres, yarns, fabrics and garment manufacturing.

The strategic partnership is part of Next Level Apparel’s efforts to source “nearshore” fabric in line with its commitments to sustainable, legally compliant and ethical operations worldwide.

Next Level Apparel’s CEO, Randy Hales, said: “There are many benefits of this partnership with GK, including shorter lead times and reduced exposure to geopolitical risks. Bringing our fabric production closer to home allows us to have complete supply chain transparency, including upstream traceability to the cotton.”

GK chairman Yusuf Amdani added: “In 2022, GK invested more than $236 million aimed at expanding our world-class operations and allowing us to bring the full strength of our global supply chain to our relationship with NLA.

“We are proud to partner with the leading printwear brand and to grow together by delivering the highest quality and responsibly sourced products available in the market today.”