Memorial Day: Celebrating American Textiles & the U.S. Military

Every Memorial Day, Americans pause to honor the lives of those who have died serving our country as a member of the U.S. military. It is a day dedicated to their heroic sacrifices based on a belief in American values and the hope for a better future. It’s also a day for celebration. As the official kickoff to the summer season, it is a day for community, barbeques, and setting our minds to the warm summer days ahead.

In the spirit of honoring our military heroes and anticipating the excitement of summer, the National Council of Textile Organizations celebrates Memorial Day with a look at some of the unique aspects of the U.S. textile supply chain and its role in serving our heroes in uniform.

The history of the U.S. textile industry’s service to the U.S. military is as old as the military itself. From the uniforms soldiers rely on for protection from the elements to the flags hoisted high above our causes, American textiles have always held a critical role in military operations and symbolism.

That history of course still thrives today. As the face of modern warfare has evolved, U.S. textile technology has kept pace by consistently developing new, cutting-edge textile technology to ensure the top performance and protection our warfighters demand and deserve. Each year, the U.S. textile industry supplies over 8,000 different types of products, ranging from advanced body amor to aircraft bodies, to our men and women in uniform, making it a key contributor to our national defense and supplies.

Further, the development of textile innovations for military use plays a critical role in U.S. textile competitiveness within the global market, while giving consumers access to sophisticated textile products useful for their everyday lives. For example, everyday products from Kleenex to Kevlar are available today thanks to military-funded research and development. And it’s no surprise that textiles developed for military use are amongst the most innovative in the world. In fact, the United States is the world leader in textile research and development, with the U.S. textile complex developing next generation textile materials such as conductive fabric with anti-static properties, electronic textiles that can monitor heart rate and other vital signs, antimicrobial fibers, and new fabrics that adapt to the climate to make the wearer warmer or cooler. To ensure that the continued research and manufacturing needed to provide high-performance textile materials to the U.S. military comes from a reliable source in times of crisis, those products must be supplied by a vibrant American textile production chain.

Still, the research and development needed to produce such innovations requires significant financial commitments. From 2012 to 2021, the U.S. textile industry invested $20.9 billion in new plants and equipment. During this time, U.S. manufacturers opened new facilities throughout the textile production chain, including recycling facilities to convert textile and other waste to new textile uses and resins.

But industry cannot carry this financial burden alone. With extreme competition from offshore manufacturers with varying ethical and sustainability practices and oversight, U.S. textile manufacturers are often left competing against low-cost suppliers with substandard environmental, workplace safety and labor practices. As we saw at the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, our reliance on such offshore suppliers and their production chains leaves the U.S. vulnerable when confronted with a health pandemic or a serious challenge to our national security.

For that reason, it is beyond necessary to bolster our industry’s efforts to equip our military through federal legislation and procurement practices that prioritize domestic manufacturing. This can be done by preserving and expanding key legislation, such as the Kissell and Berry Amendments, which require the domestic production of textiles procured by the Department of Defense and some agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.. In addition, it is critical that we support international trade arrangements and free trade agreements that spur the use of domestic content, such as CAFTA-DR. These mechanisms, combined with the industry’s history of research-based innovation, are the backbone of the more than 30,000 textile manufacturing facilities both big and small across the United States that employ over 538,000 domestic workers who are responsible for an annual output of over $66 billion. Their combined efforts make the U.S. the third largest exporter of textile-related products globally.

It is also critical that our government agencies expeditiously implement recently adopted legislation governing domestic procurement, such as the Make PPE in America Act. This legislation, which resulted from the harsh lessons learned during the supply chain crises of COVID-19, is designed to reshore and maintain a strategic personal protective equipment (PPE) production chain in the United States by requiring that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs procure only PPE that is wholly made (i.e., 100 percent made in the USA, from the production of the fiber to the yarn, fabric, and finished product) and assembled in the U.S. This important legislation also requires a contract duration for federally procured PPE of no less than two years. Such long-term commitments provide domestic manufacturers with a consistent demand signal that allows them to invest, plan, develop and deliver the medical protective goods our government and nation depend on for safety and security.

It does not take much to see why U.S. textiles are a quintessential story of American spirit and industry. So, as we take this holiday to pause and celebrate our fallen heroes and the freedoms their sacrifices allow us to enjoy, let us also celebrate the rich history of American textiles as a critical part of our national defense. Thanks to manufacturing efforts such as theirs, American warfighters can rely on the highest quality, most sophisticated and dependable military uniforms, protective materials and gear that also drive the innovations for textile products average Americans use every day. By keeping critical supply chains and their research close to home, Americans are guaranteed more sustainable and reliable access to essential products when we need them most.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember the sacrifices of our fellow Americans and enjoy the life they fought to protect. As consumers, let’s prioritize American-made products and, by doing so, support our national defense and invest in our future.

Congressional Scrutiny Intensifies Over De Minimis Loophole Bipartisan Concern Mounts

Congressional and federal regulatory scrutiny of Chinese imports entering the U.S. through a trade loophole in U.S. trade law has intensified over the past few weeks, as calls to address and potentially change a little-known legal trade mechanism known as “Section 321 de minimis” continue to gain momentum.

Key Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including the House Ways & Means Chairman, the Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and senators have weighed in on this mechanism.

The de minimis provision of U.S. trade law allows a package of goods valued at $800 or less per person to come into the country duty free everyday through e-commerce. And it is now being aggressively used, letting millions of products into the U.S. market duty free that otherwise would be subject to tariffs, penalty tariffs, taxes and customs inspection.

In 2016, the U.S. government raised the de minimis threshold to $800 while the Chinese government kept its own threshold at meager $8. Since then, e-commerce shipments from China have exploded, reportedly driven in large part by Chinese e-commerce companies and other mass marketers, which have enjoyed meteoric growth.

In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) estimates that we are on pace to hit over 1 billion in de minimis shipments this year alone, which equates to approximately 2.7 million shipments a day. This is estimated to be the highest spike in de minimis imports—up from 2 million shipments per day in fiscal year 2021. To provide further context to the alarming nature of this exponential growth in de minimis shipments, CBP data estimates that these shipments totaled only 150 million in fiscal 2016—the year Congress increased the de minimis threshold from $200 to $800.

Congressional leaders have recently sounded the alarm about the de minimis mechanism.

Most recently, Sen. Marco Rubio penned an op-ed published in Newsweek on the de minimis loophole that is reportedly allowing goods made with forced labor to enter into the United States unchecked and undermining the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). Sen. Rubio says it is time to “reevaluate our nation’s de minimis standards.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), ranking member on the Ways & Means trade subcommittee, who is the lead sponsor of legislation aimed at prohibiting goods from non-market economies that are also on a government trade watchlist–China—from benefiting from de minimis treatment, said at a House Ways & Means hearing on May 9 that he planned to reintroduce his legislation in this session of Congress, and he appeared to gain some support from Chairman Smith.

He said companies use “creative invoicing” on imported products or shipments valued at over the $800 de minimis threshold to take advantage of the duty-free benefits and evade inspection, noting the loophole is “swallowing the exception in ways that are really detrimental to American business and the safety of American consumers.”

And in what could prove to be a defining moment, House Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) agreed this is a major problem.

Their full exchange can be viewed here:

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently opened a probe into companies and brands at the center of allegations over tainted apparel tied to forced labor in Xinjiang and the reported abuse of the de minimis loophole.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the committee was recently on major news networks to voice concern about the aggressive use of the de minimis loophole and compliance with UFLPA. See the video clip here:

Congressman Gallagher also addressed the de minimis issue specifically in a video he released on Twitter. See the clip here:

“The de minimis exception wasn’t supposed to be a loophole for foreign businesses looking to skirt human rights legislation and taxes,” Rep. Gallagher said. “It was meant to minimize the burden on customs agents actually.”

In addition, Democratic leaders from the China Select Committee have made recent comments. See a clip here:

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) has been highly engaged on these issues for the past four years, raising concerns about the flagrant use of de minimis to facilitate nearly 3 million packages a day to the U.S., allowing tainted and counterfeit apparel and other consumer products to bleed into the U.S. market.

NCTO has testified at congressional hearings and engaged in numerous meetings with lawmakers and U.S. trade officials. She has also raised alarm over the issues in countless interviews and several op-eds.

See Glas’ three op-eds on de minimis here:

As Glas notes in her op-eds, “At $800, the United States has one of the highest in the world. While we hold our door wide open, the Chinese government keeps its door virtually shut [to U.S. exports]. An $800 versus $8 limit is hardly a reciprocal arrangement. Instead, we’re unilaterally giving China a massive tax and trade concession. The very least we should do is match China’s threshold.”

Meanwhile, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the ULFPA in December 2021, there has been global condemnation about the abuse of Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang, China and numerous exposés from prominent news outlets about the use of forced labor to make widely known global apparel brands and labels.

A Bloomberg report seemingly crystallized the connections through laboratory tests conducted by the news outlet that reportedly found garments shipped to the U.S. by Shein were made with cotton from China’s Xinjiang region.

This is clearly a case of two government policies—UFLPA and an outdated de minimis mechanism– working at cross-purposes. We are seeing the unintended consequence of one policy canceling out the other.

The de minimis mechanism is literally undermining efforts to hold China accountable, hurting American manufacturing competitiveness, and stifling the government’s ability to enforce the UFLPA.

Intensifying pressure on the two Chinese e-commerce giants to change their practices is a step in the right direction but to truly address the root cause of the problem, Congress should and can act to close the de minimis loophole.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation with bipartisan support that is designed to close the de minimis loophole, but the legislation to date has stalled in Congress.

Closure of this loophole will prevent companies from overtly circumventing other measures to curb China’s illegal trade practices, including the 301 tariffs and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. And help level the playing field for American textile and apparel manufacturers.

American Textiles Sustainability Achievements 2023

In celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22 each year, the National Council of Textile Organizations is sharing media coverage and highlights of sustainable achievements and developments by the American textile and apparel industry thus far in 2023.

The U.S. textile industry, its domestic suppliers, and customers are an important component of the U.S. economy and are found in every region of the country. In addition, the domestic textile industry provides numerous advantages for a greener future, including transparent supply chains with a reduced carbon footprint for American consumers and leading innovations in eco-friendly production and in environmental standards and regulations.

We are happy to share the industry’s achievements for the year thus far. American textiles continue to look for new ways to improve current production standards and invent new solutions for the future. Join us in celebrating these amazing, sustainable achievements by American textiles. Happy Earth Day!

eTextile Communications Glen Raven releases Corporate Sustainability Report April 20, 2023

Sourcing Journal Fruit of the Loom’s New Undies Use Lenzing Ecovero April 20, 2023

Nonwovens Industry Trützschler Presents Efficient Solutions for Manufacturing Fiber-Based Nonwovens April 20, 2023

Architectural Digest 7 Sustainable Materials and Products Designers Should Know About Right Now April 20, 2023

AP News HanesBrands Makes Significant Progress Toward its 2025 and 2030 Global Sustainability Goals April 20, 2023

AP News Milliken & Company Marks Five Years of Progress in 2022 Sustainability Report, “FOR HUMANKIND” April 19, 2023

eTextile Communications Lenzing expands responsible viscose fiber portfolio with new offering April 13, 2023

eTextile Communications Teijin supports JCI’s call for stronger action on climate, energy crises April 13, 2023

eTextile Communications Teijin Frontier facilitates recycling of discarded polyester apparel April 13, 2023

Media Africa 247 The LYCRA Company Launches LYCRA EnviroFit™ Fiber at INDEX™ 23 April 13, 2023

BioFuels Digest Fruit of the Loom introduces wood fiber underwear for men April 10, 2023

Alexander City Outlook HanesBrands’ Chief Sustainability Officer Offers Tips on Becoming a More Conscious Consumer Ahead of Earth Day April 12, 2023

Textile World Teijin Frontier Facilitates Recycling Of Discarded Polyester Apparel With Novel Technology For Removing Polyurethane Elastomer Fiber April 10, 2023

Sourcing Journal Lenzing Taps 3 Mills to Produce Mechanically Recycled Tencel April 7, 2023

Business Wire The LYCRA Company Launches LYCRA EnviroFit™ Fiber at INDEX™ 23 April 13, 2023

HanesBrands HanesBrands Awarded U.S. EPA Energy Star Award for Environmental Stewardship for 14thConsecutive Year March 29, 2023

Inside Fashion Live Cone Denim Establishes Certified Recycled Cotton Supply Chain March 23, 2023

Furniture, Lighting & Décor Glen Raven Inc. to Eliminate PFAS Chemicals Across Entire Portfolio March 22, 2023

Sourcing Journal Lycra’s Global Factories Achieve High Higg Assessment Marks March 22, 2023

Sourcing Journal Glen Raven to Remove PFAS from its Fabrics March 21, 2023

Sourcing Journal’s Rivet YKK NAMED ‘SUPPLIER ENGAGEMENT LEADER’ BY CDP March 16, 2023

Textile World YKK Recognized As A Supplier Engagement Leader, CDP’s Highest Rating For Supplier Engagement On Climate Change March 15, 2023

WISNews TENCEL™ showcases innovative fiber applications and new textile trends at leading tradeshows March 15, 2023

Sourcing Journal Tencel Luxe Starred on the Oscars Red Carpet March 13, 2023

Sourcing Journal Milliken Scrubs PFAS from Fibers and Finishes March 7, 2023

Environmental Leader Made of Strong Fiber: UNIFI Surpasses Recycling Goal in Spite of Apparel Industry Disruption March 3, 2023

Sourcing Journal Unifi CEO: Tech Investments, Textile Upcycling Advance Carbon Reduction March 3, 2023

Textile World Under Armour Announces New Methodology to Measure Fiber Shedding February 28, 2023

AP News UNIFI®, Makers of REPREVE®, Publishes New Sustainability Report – Company Aims to Transform 50 Billion Plastic Bottles by 2025 February 22, 2023

ATA Specialty Fabrics Review Milliken & Co. eliminates PFAS from portfolio February 22, 2023

PT Online K 2022 Additives & Materials: Sustainability in the Lead February 21, 2023

Textile World Lenzing And NFW Partner To Provide Sustainable Leather Alternatives For Fashion February 20, 2023

Textile World Teijin Named “Excellent Company For Sustainability” By S&P Global February 20, 2023

The Hill Nearshoring textiles has been a success: Here’s how we can do even better February 18, 2023

Market Screener Lenzing AG: Together with partners, Lenzing succeeds in reaching a milestone in the development of a circular-based fashion collection February 14, 2023

3BL Media HanesBrands Reaches Solar Energy Milestones February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog Unifi’s Meredith Boyd on Sustainability February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog LYCRA’s Jean Hegedus on Sustainability February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog Gherzi USA’s Bob Antoshak on Sustainability February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog BASF’s Ray Daniels on Sustainability February 13, 2023

eTextile Communications Dovetail Workwear partners with CiCLO® sustainable textile technology February 8, 2023

Endurance Sportswire Polartec Introduces Shed Less Technology to Reduce Textile Fiber Fragment Shedding February 7, 2023

eTextile Communications Archroma now upcycling textile waste into colorful dyes January 26, 2023

WL Gore & Associates Membrion Announces Its Collaboration With W. L. Gore & Associates to Develop Ultra-thin Ceramic Ion Exchange Membranes for Energy Efficient Desalination of Harsh Wastewater Streams January 25, 2023

Elevate Textiles Sustainability is woven into our very DNA at Elevate Textiles

NCTO’s Textiles in the News Fashion’s environmental governance begins with nearshoring and onshoring January 20, 2023

Fashion United How could fibre recycling become mainstream? In conversation with Lenzing’s veteran Michael Kininmonth January 20, 2023

Access Wire Gildan Included on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations List by Corporate Knights’ January 19, 2023

eTextile Communications Burlington Performance Apparel introduces biobased stretch fabric collection during OR January 12, 2023

TMC Net HanesBrands Recognized for Sustainability Leadership, Earning A- Scores in Both Climate Change and Water Security From CDP January 10, 2023

Apparel News Unifi’s Textile Takeback Program Aims to Change the Fate of Polyester January 5, 2023

On the Record with Bill Jackson

I first met Bill Jackson as a reporter with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) in Washington, covering the impact of trade policy on textile and apparel manufacturers and retailers for a trade publication known as the “Bible of Fashion.”

Flashing those credentials did not automatically open the doors on Capitol Hill or within the various federal agencies spanning three administrations, though they were the golden ticket to the glittery runways and showrooms on Seventh Avenue and the hallowed fashion ateliers of Paris and Milan.

But as I became acquainted with administration officials in the agencies crafting policies impacting the industry as a whole, the doors began to open a little wider.

Bill became Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles (AUSTR) in April 2016, according to his official USTR bio, and I met him for the first time at an industry event that I was covering for WWD.

I was on deadline for the story, and it would have been a coup for a trade reporter to get a quote from an important trade official and insider like Bill. But Bill declined the interview request at the time, with a grin and an “I know better than to speak to a reporter” glint in his eye.

Obtaining a quote from Bill became my mission over the years and though I probably did ultimately score a quote on the record from him, it was a rare occurrence.

And it remained that way until the close of NCTO’s 19th Annual Meeting on March 30, when Bill, who was a day shy of retirement, agreed to answer a few questions from me (now VP of Communications for NCTO) about his tenure as AUSTR of Textiles and his outlook for the U.S. textile industry.

NCTO: What have you learned about the textile industry during your tenure at USTR?

BJ: I think the key thing about the textile industry that people don’t know about is that it’s really a cutting-edge industry. There are so many things going on that are cutting-edge technologies ranging from a variety of health applications to fire retardants, to uniforms for the military and first responders. And people have this dated sense that it’s just yarns, or just some old-fashioned materials but it’s really cutting edge. I’ve seen that firsthand in facilities throughout the United States, including NCTO members.

I think it’s an industry that has a bright future. It has a lot of challenges, but those challenges are being tackled with the industry and in partnership with the government, and hopefully Congress will get behind some of these new initiatives. I’m hopeful for this industry to be the model for Made in USA manufacturing.

NCTO: What has been your biggest surprise about the industry—a preconceived idea you had about it that changed after your onsite factory tours and seeing firsthand what this industry is capable of innovating?

B.J.: I think it’s probably been the way in which the industry has a lot of flexibility and the way it has adapted. Many of these companies date from the 19th Century and yet they have innovated and changed their production techniques; they’ve changed their product lines and they are thriving today.

And we saw the ability of the flexibility during the PPE pandemic when they all got together– including some companies that compete against each other– to find a way to create Made in USA PPE during that national emergency. I think again these companies may be old, but they are experienced, they are innovative, and they are positioned for the future.

NCTO: While promoting policies that bolster Made in America and domestic production is critical, there is also a co-production chain with Central America and the region that is vitally important to our member companies. Can you speak to that as well as the importance of the yarn forward rule in CAFTA?

B.J.: I remember NCTO did a press release a few years ago just before Christmas, saying that when you are looking to buy gifts, don’t just look for Made in USA. Please look for Made in USA but when you see something made in Central America and it says Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, those products probably have a substantial amount from U.S. manufacturing—the fibers, yarns and fabrics.

And that is one of the reasons why we think the partnership in that co-production from U.S. domestic manufacturers and apparel manufacturing in Central America is so important. It is a potential way of our meeting some challenges we have right now with some of the supply chains to bring production closer to our shores.

There is no question that that Biden-Harris administration fully supports the yarn forward approach to rules of origin in our free trade agreements. We heard Ambassador [Katherine] Tai, say that in her remarks this morning. CAFTA-DR really is the cement that holds together the supply chain and yarn forward is the core of that.

Bill was referring to an exclusive pre-recorded message from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, which included the following remarks:

“Manufacturing is rebounding faster than it has in almost 40 years.  And a record 10.5 million small businesses were created in the last two years.

Trade plays an integral part in this new story.  

We’re incentivizing U.S.- and regionally-based production and reducing our reliance on products and inputs from distant shores, a vulnerability that the pandemic so clearly brought to light. 

We’re factoring in the impact of trade on rural and disadvantaged communities, including those in which many of you operate.

And through Vice President Harris’ Call to Action initiative, we’re challenging companies to invest in the textile sectors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

We’ve already seen over a $1 billion in new commitments to invest or source from the region, which will help to bolster the North American supply chain and address increased migration pressures from Central America.

A lack of economic opportunity is clearly one of the pressures behind migration, and we know that the textile and apparel sectors present significant opportunities for expanded employment, especially for women.  And as part of our commitment to ending the race to the bottom, we want those jobs to be in safe facilities, where basic worker rights are upheld. 

Not only will these investments and sourcing commitments help increase economic opportunities in those countries, they will also promote greater near-shoring and support American jobs that provide the yarns and fabrics that go into Central American apparel production. 

Make no mistake—we know how important the yarn-forward rules of origin are for the success of our trade partnership with the region.  Those rules provide the certainty that companies need to invest in and expand operations, which also creates good-paying jobs both in the United States and in Central America.” –Ambassador Katherine Tai

The administration’s support of a worker-centric trade agenda that supports domestic and regional manufacturing and workers and strives to create a level playing field to enable the industry to meet global challenges head on, is critical.

The U.S. textile industry faces a multitude of challenges, ranging from efforts by certain importers to weaken the CAFTA-DR rule of origin (which would adversely impact the U.S. and Central American co-production chain) to competing with imports in a global apparel supply chain tainted by forced labor apparel from Xinjiang, China.

But this industry has remained resilient for more than 100 years and will continue to contribute strongly to the U.S. economy by coordinating closely with USTR and other key agencies and its allies on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps fittingly, the final word should go to one of the lieutenants at USTR who worked behind the scenes to tirelessly address textile-related issues throughout his tenure.

From Bill Jackson’s post on LinkedIn:

“Nearly 39 years after taking my oath of office at the State Department, and 21 years after starting work at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, today is my last day of service with the federal government. I’ve traveled the world, helped set up UN peacekeeping operations in three countries, and negotiated trade agreements. Now I’m looking forward to new adventures, including volunteering in the community, learning new things, and spending more time with my family (whether they like it or not). Thanks to all who have supported and mentored me over the years.”


Sustainability & the Domestic Supply Chain: BASF

Seed Sustainability Marketing Manager (North America) Ray Daniels discusses how BASF‘s e3 sustainable cotton program offers partnerships & digital tools for farmers to bolster sustainable practices, ensure healthy seed & soil management & provide traceability for raw materials used to develop textile & apparel products.

Sustainability & the Domestic Supply Chain: The Lycra Company

Sustainability Director Jean Hegedus explains what gives  The LYCRA Company an advantage in eco-friendly production. Hear more from her and other industry experts during a special webinar on sustainability hosted by NCTO at 10am on Feb. 15. 

This special event is scheduled for 10 am on Wednesday, February 15, and will feature a panel of industry experts from Unifi, BASF, The LYCRA Company, and Origin USA. 

Register today at:

Sustainability & the Domestic Supply Chain Webinar Teaser

Gherzi USA’s Bob Antoshak will moderate NCTO’s latest upcoming webinar titled “Sustainability & the Domestic Supply Chain: Mitigating Production Impacts from Fibers to Finished Goods.”

This special event is scheduled for 10 am on Wednesday, February 15, and will feature a panel of industry experts from Unifi, BASF, The LYCRA Company, and Origin USA. 

Register today at:

Fashion’s environmental governance begins with nearshoring and onshoring

If the US fashion industry shifts to onshoring and nearshoring it will reap the benefits from both a business and environmental point of view, writes National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO)’s Kimberly Glas in

Decisions made decades ago have come back to haunt the fashion industry when it comes to environmental governance. About 30 years ago, free trade dogma took hold in our industry and the halls of government. New trade agreements were negotiated. The World Trade Organisation was established, and China was rewarded with Permanent Normal Trade Relations with the United States. Consequently, business was globalised, while economies became evermore intertwined.

In the case of textiles and apparel, offshoring was all the rage. Many sourcing executives scoured developing countries looking for the lowest-cost producers to make their products with a fierce competition that was a race to the bottom for fast, disposable fashion. But lost in all of this were domestic manufacturers and labour and environmental standards necessary to ensure a sustainable supply chain.

However, globalisation brought unforeseen consequences such as well-documented environmental harm, lax overseas labour standards, and a hollowing-out of the middle class here at home and in developed economies — actual costs with real implications for people everywhere.

The fashion industry — from material sourcing, through supply chains to washing and waste — is estimated to be responsible for 8% to 10% of global carbon emissions according to the United Nations.

But what can the industry do? The entire sourcing system needs to be overhauled. Changing times like those in which we live demands no less.

To real the full piece, please click the link here.



Applied DNA Sciences: DNA Technology & Tagging Shines the Light on Trade Rule Evasion and Labor Abuse in Supply Chains

In this new era of heightened scrutiny around illegal trade practices such as the widespread use of forced labor in Xinjiang, China and the ongoing circumvention of U.S. trade laws, Applied DNA Sciences stands at the forefront of innovation with DNA technology solutions that offer supply chain authentication.

A publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ, Applied DNA is a new NCTO member company that has developed forensic solutions for secure supply chain traceability and brand protection, says MeiLin Wan, Vice President of Textile Sales at Applied DNA.

To watch short video on Applied DNA Sciences, click here.

The company is headquartered in Stony Brook Long Island, New York, and works in many different U.S. industries including textiles such as cotton, recycled polyester, specialty coatings, thread, apparel and footwear, as well as nutritional and pharmaceuticals, personal care and printing.

Wan says the company’s supply chain traceability solutions and forensic testing support clients in relation to verifying and preventing circumvention of the yarn forward rule of origin in free trade agreements, around issues related to complying with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, (UFLPA) and in issues pertaining to Made in America regulations.

Applied DNA’s forensic analysis and DNA tagging has become all the more critical in the wake of heightened government scrutiny of abhorrent conditions and forced labor practices in Xinjiang, China, and the abuse of Uyghur Muslim minorities in internment camps forced to make apparel, footwear and other consumer products for scores of global companies.

See a recent op-ed by Applied DNA Sciences CEO James Hayward, “Stopping Uyghur Forced Labor Imports: A Made-in-America Solution,” in Sourcing Journal here.

In addition to partnering with commercial brands and companies, Applied DNA is also a federal and New York state contractor. The company also provides COVID PCR testing for public universities such as the City University of New York (CUNY) and the State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook, and private industry.


NCTO sat down with MeiLin Wan for a Q&A to discuss the ever- growing importance of traceability in supply chains in light of stepped up enforcement of goods made with forced labor and ongoing scrutiny of trade rule circumvention.

NCTO: In a climate of heightened scrutiny of illegal trade practices and labor abuses in the global supply chain, how important are your services and what do you provide?

WAN: Applied DNA provides secure supply chain traceability solutions as well as forensic testing support for clients specifically in relation to the yarn forward rule of origin, as well issues relate to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and other Made in America regulations.

Some of the material we work with and do testing for includes cotton, recycled polyester, leather, down and feather, and specialty coatings. We also provide advanced identification solutions for sew and embroidery thread.

You can see there is wide range of different security and authenticity applications related to the use of our platform technology, which we call “CertainT”. Because there is so much uncertainty in supply chains today, the platform was aptly named “CertainT” to provide traceability transparency and trust within supply chains at any point in the supply chain in any area of textiles.

Applied DNA is a U.S. federal contractor. We also are a contractor for New York state. We provide tens of thousands of PCR test that include DNA authentication services as well as provide COVID PCR diagnostic testing in large scale.

NCTO: Can you highlight one important aspect of NCTO that is critical to advance your interests and efforts, as well as that of the U.S. textile industry?

WAN: One important is to have a system to enable companies to differentiate themselves through the use of DNA, specifically DNA tagging. This is an area that we have been working on for over 20 years in terms of developing a way to be able say “It’s my DNA tag that is used for my brand, for my products and for my supply chain.”

We believe that by working with NCTO and its members we can provide a way for a. differentiation and b. to be able to secure the materials that are made and developed in the U.S. so that when they come back into the U.S. there’s a way to verify those products, and also enforce the trade rules that relate to the product coming back into the U.S.

NCTO: Our membership is largely comprised of U.S.-based companies employing U.S. workers. Why is it important for domestic manufacturers to trace their supply chains, as opposed to importers? Why are your services important to our members?

WAN: It is important for domestic suppliers and brands to use a system like ours. The number one reason is to protect brands and their good will. That can be in the form of intellectual property. So, for example you might have a specialty coating or fiber that you created and developed here in the U.S. If you are able to tag your materials, that provides you a way to verify that a. this is how it started and b. this is how it ends up in different materials and production.


It is the first line of defense, and it is also the best offense to be able to have a system that is based in DNA technology that is forensic.

The second biggest issue is portable testing. As we know, with COVID PCR tests, the time it takes to do a COVID test is now 5-10 minutes. It is really fast. It can be done at a doctor’s office.

With textiles, we believe that mills using our system can take accountability and do the testing themselves. We can train them on how to test materials they have tagged and also test them in the field.

That’s the power of technology to provide a. more intelligence and information and, b., put the accountability back on the supply chain. Yes, auditing is good, but it is better that you know what is going on in your supply chain.

NCTO: Is the biggest challenge addressing trade rule circumvention or labor abuses in terms of adoption of traceability systems in the supply chain?

WAN: I think the biggest challenge is that brands and manufacturers need to recognize is the importance of being able to prove the origin of their products and take the necessary steps to implement and adopt a platform like ours.

I think it is at very high level. It’s a strategic decision that has to be made by organizations to adopt the fact that that we need a system to provide due diligence, not just to prove it is a product made here in the U.S., but also to be able be sure it isn’t blended with, for example, cotton from Xinjiang. It’s not good if it starts off well in the U.S. and ends up being blended and defrauded somewhere else and comes back as not a very pure product.

I think that adoption is linked to the culture and goals of the organization and their decision to really support the claims that they are making.

NCTO: What are the top challenges your firm sees in traceability and in the application of DNA tagging for the U.S. textile industry this year?

WAN: There are a few key challenges for the industry this year, specifically related to the use of raw materials from countries that don’t qualify for rules of origin, with regards to yarn forward. Specifically, how do you prove that raw materials really did originate from the U.S. and did not contain material from a non-qualifying region like China?

The number one challenge is really yarn forward rule of origin compliance. How do we help U.S. yarn and fabric producers identify products that may not be qualifying from other regions. Secondly, the use of Xinjiang cotton and other materials from forced labor countries. Applied DNA has had a number of discussions with CBP about DNA traceability technology; how you prove that the cotton does not come from Xinjiang. We can also help NCTO members in assuring their supply chains are free from forced labor regions using cotton or viscose or other materials.

There are challenges but we also believe there are opportunities to set the record straight, to have good system in place for due diligence, and a good system in place to support your claims you are making about your product.


We always say: “If you claim it, you own it.”

This coming year in 2023, you should be seeing more companies coming out and explaining how they go about proving their claims and also protecting their brands.

NCTO: Are you finding that brands and retailer are more receptive to this with the enactment of UFLPA?

WAN: Yes, brands and manufacturers are more receptive to using DNA traceability technology more than they were maybe 10-year ago. I think UFLPA has accelerated the adoption and willingness to be more compliant,

But I also think that with new regulation there is opportunity to use technology such as ours to differentiate yourself in the market, and the companies that are ahead of the curve are thinking that. They are thinking much longer term.

How do I use technology like this to prove multiple things like sustainability without greenwashing or using cotton without forced labor?

I think there are a lot of companies trying to use blockchain as the basis for how they do their traceability and tracking. Blockchain is a tool like anything else but doesn’t necessarily provide you the raw data as to the actual product itself, so you could have a fraudulent blockchain just like the FTX of the cryptocurrency situation that blew up. The basis for that blowup is the fact there was no basis or infrastructure for the value of any of the assets of materials behind it.

So, if you don’t have data and you don’t have integrity on actual products in the supply chain then what do you have is another crypto system for blockchain. I know that it seems easy to say, “I have a traceable system,” but when something is too good to be true, it usually is.”

We have been doing traceability and authentication for 17 years and understand what is required to actually prove your claims of the source of your materials.

There is no substitute for actually being on the ground, going to a mill to see how cotton is produced and following that cotton or recycled polyester from beginning all the way to the end.

We hope that through working in collaboration with NCTO and its membership that there is way to communicate that message, of fiber to finished goods, in a very strong and cohesive way, because it affects policy and it affects the enforcement of trade rules and regulations.

NCTO: CBP issued a withhold release order (WRO) on cotton products and Congress followed by passing the UFLPA.  Is this the first time seen in 17 years or longer that this kind of attention is being paid to forced labor? Do you feel it is a new era in terms of how the U.S. Government polices this?

WAN: Yes, I Think it is a new era. It is a paradigm shift in the way you communicate and support your claims. Because it is so easy for anyone to do a search on the internet to fact check and see that what you are saying.

So, there’s so much more scrutiny in terms of if how you make a claim about a material. You can’t just say because I am this brand and so loved by children all over the world that I’m above the rules about safety and the use of forced labor in my supply chain.


There is no brand that is immune to scrutiny related to any number of human and environmental issues.

I think that this new era of closer scrutiny and information sharing also puts a higher standard of care and fiduciary responsibility on companies. It is so different now.

It comes back to: “If you claim it, you own it.” Every day now some company is being brought out by an NGO or consumer to prove a claim for a 100 percent sustainable jean, for example. As a company or brand, you can’t say, “I had a great marketing campaign,” or “I’m well-known brand and you should believe what I say is true. “Those days are over.”

NCTO: Circumvention of rules of origin have been a big issue. Do you expect more attention to be paid to forced labor in light of the UFLPA legislation than to circumvention of rules of origin?

WAN: I actually think circumvention of rules of origin is somewhat related to forced labor issues. Because if you are already circumventing rules of origin in a different country like China, then there is a high likelihood you will be circumventing UFLPA and using Xinjiang cotton.

Even though legislatively, they may be independent, in practice I actually think they’re not. If you are going to cheat, you are going to cheat. It doesn’t matter what legislation you are trying to get around.

Cheating has no boundaries. That is the whole idea behind it. This is where technology could be helpful. Because not only can you know where it comes from but you can also find out if, for example, you tag something and it ends up in a location where it should not be. That also gives you intelligence about what is happening in the supply chain. We are trying to help provide more intelligence and take out the guesswork in terms of what is going on in the supply chain.

NCTO Member Spotlight: American Giant

NCTO member American Giant celebrates its 10-year anniversary as a 100% #Made-in-USA #apparel #manufacturer! Their 100% #domestic supply chain features leading US yarn and textile manufacturers, such as Parkdale Mills Clover Knits and Carolina Cotton Works.