Guilford Performance Textiles has partnered with Concept III Textiles to develop business with leading outdoor and activewear U.S. apparel brands.

Guilford, based in Wilmington, N.C., has been producing high-quality synthetic knit fabrics for performance outerwear and the automotive industry since 1946.

Concept III Textiles, based in Red Bank. N.J., has been in business 30 years and specializes in product development, sourcing and production of fabric-based finished products worldwide for the active sports and outdoor markets, representing about 10 performance textile mills and technologies around the world.

A spokeswoman said Guilford already does business with a few large customers such as Nike and Under Armour, but the agreement will help introduce it to the rest of CIII’s customer base, which includes such companies as Patagonia, LL Bean and Victoria’s Secret.

“This partnership makes great sense,” said Devin Warren, Guilford’s director of sales and product development. “Concept III brings with it decades of strong relationships and performance fabric expertise, while Guilford is uniquely positioned to help customers continue their trend of shifting sourcing back to this hemisphere.”

Warren said that Guilford, acquired last year by automotive seating and power system firm Lear Corp. for $257 million, “has the strongest balance sheet of any textile company in the U.S. Our customers know that we’re going to be around to meet their needs well into the future.” Guilford has annual sales of about $400 million, with 85 percent derived from automotive applications, and the rest from its Specialty Products Division, which includes performance outerwear.

Guilford and Concept III noted that they are both experienced in manufacturing in the Western Hemisphere, and that a rise in global transportation and manufacturing costs has made apparel production in Mexico and Central America even more attractive with its lower costs and shorter lead times.

“Outdoor and active apparel has become everyday streetwear around the globe,” said Chris Parkes, Concept III partner and director of sales. “Much of the volume is in polyester and spandex or nylon and spandex [blends], which Guilford offers in a collection of top-of-the-line knits and has done so here in the U.S. for over 65 years.”

Parkes described Guilford as “an innovation leader strategically geared to further develop countless unique fabrics and finishes that enhance both performance and aesthetics.” Guilford’s specialty performance fabrics include lightweight layering pieces that wick moisture away from the skin and heavier compression garments for heat retention.

Concept III said it prefers to work with environmentally sensitive and compliant mills and that Guilford has a strong track record in this regard, citing its construction of a methane gas pipeline from a local landfill to power plant generators, and that it also recycles 98 percent of its fabric waste.