Where We Currently Stand: Supplier Update From Next Level Apparel

2020 has certainly been a year unlike any other. Even from the earliest months, promo professionals have faced a series of unprecedented obstacles that few could have foreseen. These challenges don’t end with distributors, either – even the largest suppliers in the industry have faced their own slew of challenges from strained supply chains, limited workforces and ever-fluctuating product demand.

To learn more about what suppliers have been dealing with and how they’re staying ahead, we asked leading apparel supplier Next Level Apparel to shed some light on what their 2020 has looked like and what we can expect for the year ahead. Consider these takeaways as you plan for 2021 to stay one step ahead of where the industry is headed and reduce the impact this tumultuous time will have on your business.

Takeaway #1: Pivot to PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

If there’s one promo category that exploded onto the scene this year, it’s PPE. Protective items like face masks, neck gaiters and hand sanitizer might as well get comfortable at the top of ESP search results, as they’ve captured the top spots this year and show little sign of going away. However, the rapid adoption and demand for these products has called for suppliers to shift from their standard product lines where possible to instead manufacture these life-saving essentials.

One such example is Next Level Apparel. Using the same material as their beloved T-shirts, Next Level is now manufacturing 2-ply face masks and neck gaiters that are reusable, eco-friendly, machine-washable and easy to breathe in. Plus, they’re available in both adult and youth sizes, so no demographic is out. It goes to show that no company is immune from having to switch things up to survive the times. You can expect PPE to remain a key product line into 2021.

People in Masks

Takeaway #2: Help Supply Surgical Masks

As one of the largest apparel providers in our industry, Next Level’s expertise and capabilities can help those outside of our industry too. As such, Next Level has teamed up with other USA-based apparel brands and Dr. Peter Navarro, Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing, to fill the national stockpile with surgical masks. Each surgical mask is made from a proprietary fabric with a chemistry finish that is both FDA-approved and HHS-certified. This is the only program to have these designations and be distributed to hospitals and healthcare workers across the country.

To anyone who’s ever thought of promos as mere marketing knick-knacks, it’s time to change that tune. Promo suppliers have a lot of manufacturing power, and current times are calling on them to help out our country at large.


Takeaway #3: Consider Charity Initiatives

Speaking of the power of promo, Next Level hasn’t stopped there to give back to the community. In fact, they’ve teamed up with nonprofit City of Hope as their official philanthropic partner. This comprehensive research and treatment center for cancer and other serious diseases is among those working on a vaccine for COVID-19. What’s more, a portion of all face mask and neck gaiter sales from Next Level Apparel go straight toward the important work they are doing. So far, Next Level has already donated over 2,500 KN95 masks, 20,000 surgical masks and 50,000 units of apparel.

City of Hope

If you’re looking for an apparel or PPE supplier to partner with for years ahead, you can feel good about working with Next Level, knowing every order you place will give back to our country and communities. And the biggest takeaway of all? No matter how much strain our industry might be under, our resilience and influence will allow us to not only survive 2020, but find ways to do more than we ever thought possible.