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T-Shirt Giant Teams with Oritain to Trace Cotton

Next Level Apparel is using forensic science to trace and verify the provenance of its products and raw materials.

The Los Angeles supplier of blank apparel known for its cotton sublimation T-shirts inked an exclusive partnership with forensic and data science company Oritain to trace its fiber origin. The development comes after Next Level Apparel recently committed to using only U.S.-grown cotton in a bid to ensure its raw material supply chain isn’t linked to human rights violations.

Working with Oritain will help Next Level Apparel verify its cotton through scientific processes so customers have confidence in the origins of what they’re buying. Investing in verification technology addresses the global cotton industry’s heightened traceability challenges stemming from recent U.S. legislation targeting human rights and forced labor. Enhanced traceability will also aid in quality control, allowing the company to monitor supply chain partners that try to get away with blending cotton with lower-quality fibers.

“From our local roots in Southern California to our international consumer base, we are dedicated to creating an experience that advances our customers’ mission while ensuring the integrity of the premium quality products we bring to market,” Next Level Apparel CEO Randy Hales said. “We embrace the protection of our beautiful planet and are purposeful in finding the right options in every area of our operations.”

“Partnering with Oritain reinforces this principle and highlights our commitment to sustainability and transparency in our supply chain,” he added.

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A cotton T-shirt from Next Level Apparel.
A cotton T-shirt from Next Level Apparel. Next Level Apparel

Under the terms of the agreement, Next Level Apparel will independently test textile products from its global supply chain to assess their integrity, quality and consistency. The science-backed systems will confirm the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Oritain’s technology precisely pinpoints the area down to a few meters where a product or raw material originated. Since 2008, the New Zealand-based company has developed the capacity to trace a wide variety of products and materials across environments and global geographies, helping international businesses—from luxury goods labels to government organizations and food and wine businesses—confirm their ESG commitments in verifiable data while minimizing risk.

“Oritain uses cutting edge forensic science to help truly committed brands continuously evolve in their value chain transparency journey,” said Rupert Hodges, Oritain’s chief commercial officer. “We are excited to partner with Next Level Apparel, helping them verify the origin of their cotton to guarantee that it is not only the highest quality, enables them to accurately monitor the sustainability impacts at the raw material level and assisting us in our mission of avoiding unethical labor practices.”