BORN IN THE U.S.A.

by David Billstrom

A UNIQUE SHIRT BORN IN THE U.S.A.

Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. Album Cover

In April, 1982, Bruce Springsteen recorded the iconic Born in the U.S.A. track for the album of the same name. 


Approximately forty years later, Kitsbow began taking orders (and shipping) an amazing new garment that has already captured the hearts of those lucky enough to help test the prototypes. It has nothing to do with Bruce, but it too was Born In The U.S.A.


Introducing: The Denim Icon


The Denim Icon is available in 17 different sizes/fit combinations initially, and in two different colors. Consistent with Kitsbow’s innovative production methodology, after purchase each Denim Icon is Made to Order. 


And this is a Limited Edition style: only 97 Icon shirts will be made in the Black denim fabric, and only 217 made in the Dark Indigo denim fabric.


This means that each new owner of the limited edition Icon Denim Shirt will receive the exact size they specify, and will not have to settle for what we might have had on the shelf. 


Kitsbow procured the premium denim (more on that in a moment), so we know how many shirts we can make from the yardage: 314 shirts in all. But we won’t make them until we know what each customer wants for their specific size and fit.

 

What is an Icon?

The Icon Shirt was first offered by Kitsbow 8 years ago, a unique combination of style, wool, and performance… and almost immediately gained a reputation as a classic. Outside Magazine called it One Perfect Thing in 2016, then came back in 2021 with another in-depth review making the pronouncement that the Icon was The Best Damn Flannel Ever Made

 

Customers have left nearly 500 5-star positive reviews for the Icon Shirt over the years.


Owners of Icon Shirts recognize one another “in the wild” because indeed the product is recognizable even at a distance: stylish, meticulously made, performance features, durability measured in years, and is almost unimaginably comfortable both on or off the bike. Because it fits.


Eventually we evolved to three different fits of the Icon to serve different bodies: Signature Fit, Relaxed Athletic Fit, and Women’s Fit. And we recently added “Tall” variations to each size of the Signature and Relaxed Athletic fits. 


Many Icon owners have more than one, because over the years we’ve offered limited editions in a hue of colors, mostly plaids but also solids. All from wool fabric woven by the legendary Pendleton Woolen Mills in Oregon.


Icons have always been made in the U.S., and we're proud that since 2019 all Icons are crafted by artisan Makers in Old Fort, North Carolina (where Kitsbow is now based).


The new Icon Denim Shirt was designed in the U.S.A. by our team in Old Fort, North Carolina. This the same product design team that has re-designed every Kitsbow garment made offshore over the past 10 years, so that it could be produced here in the U.S. The new Icon Denim Shirt was created here, and now it is being made here -- in our employee-owned factory in Old Fort, North Carolina. The new Icon was literally Born in the U.S.A.
 

Why Now?

This is the first time we’ve ever offered the Icon Shirt for sale in any fabric other than wool – we've stuck with wool because of the numerous advantages of the fabric in cold weather and active sports. But the Denim Icon isn’t actually the first non-wool Icon we’ve made. And therein lies a story…


In a loving tribute and homage to one of our heroes, in 2022 the employees at Kitsbow created a one-of-a-kind Icon shirt inspired by Dolly Parton in a bright blue cotton fabric, bedazzled with rhinestones and fringe. This was launched as a (pretend) new product on April 1, to great fanfare and quite a bit of attention.



 
After April Fool's Day, a raffle was held for the unique shirt, and all of the proceeds donated to MTB trail development here in Old Fort, NC.


Not only did some customers not get the point of the fun (they thought it was real), but we heard from many long-time customers that they were quite disappointed when they realized they couldn’t actually buy the special edition bedazzled Icon. And that sparked an idea.


We should mention that Kitsbow is now majority-owned by the employees, and this initiative was one of several new ideas created within a newly fertile environment of Kitsbow, re-formed as a public benefit corporation.


We had acquired premium denim for a future product, and it became clear that a denim Icon would be just the thing for a unique style, largely off the bike. And that we could make it here, to the same exacting quality standards – a denim shirt so tough that would endure for years to come. With an awesome fit. 

 

How Different?

Icon owners know that their wool Icon has a certain amount of “give” and flex, inherent in the fabric. The denim fabrics chosen for this limited edition version will be a bit more stiff and structured by comparison to the wool Icon.


That said, the Denim Icon will be much more comfortable than a typical denim jacket because of the premium fit inherent in the design of the Icon -- and because of a tiny amount of spandex in this denim fabric.


All of the features of the original wool Icon are included: snaps (not buttons) for one-handed operation; hidden vent for releasing heat; structured collar; pockets with flaps to keep items secure; and an amazing fit across the shoulders so that you can ride a bike (or use a keyboard at your desk).


Early reviewers indicate that this may be the most comfortable denim shirt you will ever wear. And like all of our best products, it should last for many years due to the durable construction and the tough denim fabric.
 

Limited Edition and Uniquely Numbered

Each Denim Icon Shirt includes a fabric panel inside the shirt, labeled with the unique number of that specific shirt. In typical Kitsbow style, the limited edition label and number is discreetly tucked away inside the shirt and not flown on the outside for all to see. 


This is an extension of the idea behind the Maker Card included with every Kitsbow product we make, showing the initials of each person that participating in crafting that specific garment.
 

What Denim?

We’re very excited about the premium denim we chose for this shirt, offered in two colors and sourced from two different mills. Both fabrics are imported from Europe, and both come from deeply-experienced mills offering premium denim. Both mills are part of a textile industry movement towards sustainable practices.


The Black version (only 97 shirts can be made from this fabric) is a right-handed twill, slightly stretch denim with 2% Spandex and 98% cotton and is a 10.5 ounce weight. 


It was milled in Valencia, Spain by Tejidos Royo. Royo has more than 100 years of experience, and has publicly committed to the protection of human rights and to sustainability.


The Dark Indigo version (only 217 shirts can be made from this fabric) is a “broken” twill, and is also a slightly stretch denim with 2% Spandex and 98% cotton, but slightly heavier at 11.5 ounces. The distinctive “broken” twill is achieved when the diagonal weave of the twill is intentionally reversed at every two warp ends to create a random design.


It was milled in Italy by the Candiani Mill. Candiani has more than 75 years of experience, and is known as one of the greenest textile companies in Europe, also focused on sustainability and developing a “dry denim” process.

 

 

Join Our Cause

Get connected to our journey: Sign up for email here. Buy a product or two here.

 

Visit us in North Carolina at the Old Fort Ride House for a Factory Tour and to see the magic for yourself. Ride our trails, hike the ridges, and fish in the streams of the Other Pisgah. Meet our community

 

Use the power of your purchasing not only to enjoy premium quality products that last for years and sustain the earth, but also employ awesome people in a beautiful community. 

And we’re always looking for more talent and artisans. Send your friends, family, and best candidates to join our team here.

Help us change an industry, build a community, and save the world.