National Security

EXCLUSIVE: Veteran-Owned Clothing Company Calls On Other Brands To End Use Of Slave Labor Products

(Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

The CEO of veteran-owned Nine Line apparel is calling on other apparel brands to end the use of cotton produced from slave labor in China by regularly testing the source of their suppliers’ items, he exclusively told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

After getting his wholesaler’s product independently tested, Army CPT (ret.) Tyler Merritt, Nine Line Apparel’s CEO, says he discovered that he was receiving products with cotton from Xinjiang, China, where the Chinese government is accused of detaining and torturing the Uyghur ethnic and religious minority. He is asking other American apparel companies, including California-based Next Level Apparel, to ensure that they aren’t producing products made using Xinjiang cotton, he told the DCNF.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act requires the U.S. government to prevent the importation of slave labor products sourced from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. (RELATED: Biden Admin Weighing Lifting Sanctions On China To Broker Fentanyl Deal)

This photo taken on June 2, 2019 shows buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) / TO GO WITH China-Xinjiang-media-rights-press,FOCUS by Eva XIAO

“Americans would be horrified to discover that apparel they buy that sport religious or patriotic statements might have been manufactured by forced slave labor. They may be unwittingly buying shirts which were made by imprisoned men and women being persecuted for their faith – all of which is being papered over with cheap prices. Companies like Next Level are hoping American consumers never wake up to this ruse,” Merritt told the DCNF in a statement.

“Actions speak louder than words and the next steps taken by the companies in our industry will set the tone for others to follow. Until all brands that use Next Level Apparel demand accountability, the demand for forced labor will only increase. We are calling on all brands that utilize Next Level as a supplier, to test, quarantine, and return all products that originated from the Xinjiang region just as Nine Line has,” Merritt said.

In May, Next Level recognized the results of Nine Line’s independent testing and said it took swift action and ended its relationship with the scrutinized supplier in response.

“When Nine Line raised concerns, we took timely action to address them and protect the integrity of our products,” Next Level Apparel CEO Randy Hales told PPAI Media at the time. “We offered the company the opportunity to return its inventory and subsequently quarantined it. We conducted our own testing, discovered a very small amount of our fabric inventory tested positive and quarantined that inventory. We have also terminated our relationship with the supplier in question.”

Merrit, however, isn’t convinced and is concerned that other companies will unknowingly use their products, telling the DCNF that Next Level won’t disclose the supplier they’ve used.

“Next Level’s refusal to identify the supplier of the offending products is unacceptable and is not consistent with the industry’s obligation. Without this information, others in our industry may be unknowingly utilizing this supplier which only emboldens and enriches individuals who have conscripted an entire group of people based on their religious beliefs. This is something worth fighting for and we will Answer the Call on behalf of the Uyghur people,” Merritt said.

Next Level didn’t immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact