Getting the Basics Right

by Beth Donovan

Let’s Include Every Body in Cycling!

We’ve had a number of important shifts at Kitsbow, with more to come. We thought it is time to let you in on what we’ve been up to and offer a glimpse of what’s to come.

Only thirteen months ago Kitsbow had 15 employees making 5 different apparel styles in our new production space in Old Fort, NC.

Today, (April 29, 2021) the Kitsbow team is made up of 60 wildly diverse individuals who are currently designing, cutting, sewing, and selling over 40 different styles every day.

Let’s say that again, over 40 different styles are cut, sewn and made right here in the US.

Not to mention, that from March 2020 through July 2020 we were limited to making PPE.

How we make apparel is unique. We use a Lean Manufacturing model, which you will usually experience as “Made to Order” -- which simply means that we make garments as close to your order as possible. With huge demand right now, that’s usually after you order (but not always).

What does this mean for you?

It allows us to offer you more sizes, more choices, and more colors constantly, throughout the “season” -- in fact, freed from the tyranny of typical industry “seasons.” If you want it, we can make it.

Let’s roll back in time for a little context:

Zander Nosler, Kitsbow’s Founder was inspired to begin Kitsbow largely because he had trouble finding quality gear that fit him (he has a small frame). After sampling numerous brands and even more garments, he could not find anything that worked, it was with this insight that he decided to start Kitsbow; to make clothes that FIT.

The industry standard of 5 sizes from Small to Extra Large excluded many fellow humans!

Kitsbow’s first MTB short was launched in 10 different sizes, and the tough part about this was that Kitsbow was still making clothes the traditional way — batched orders of shorts made outside the U.S. and sent to us via boat or air shipment.

This meant we had to pre-order and guess what sizes customers were going to need. So, if we needed one more XS or XXL then the customer was out of luck… And if we guessed wrong and ordered too much, this was waste or stale inventory -- not good. This was an industry-wide problem that needed a sustainable solution.

Rethinking how clothes were made was the answer. Why couldn’t clothes be made how most everything else in the world is made these days --- Automobiles, cell phones, bikes, even deli sandwiches--- you make them one at a time and according to demand.

This is the AHA! moment that will forever define Kitsbow, shaping who we are today, and the guide where we will be going in the future.

The idea of making things one item at a time means that we are responding to a specific demand of the product (your order) and not making a guess. Pro Tip: If you are not guessing, then you are not wasting.

In 2019 we introduced our first summer pant -- in 49 sizes. Still uncommon in the industry, and impossible for a small company paying for manufacturing overseas.

While we are committed to a wide selection of sizes, we also know that including everyone in the fun of cycling and hiking isn’t just about offering many sizes. Our first effort was the Icon shirt, offered from XS to XXL (6 sizes) but in three different fits: Signature (straight cut), Women’s (contoured cut), and Relaxed Athletic Fit (wide in shoulders and torso). 17 choices.

As Kitsbow continues to utilize our lean manufacturing, and Made to Order sales, we’ll be including more variety in fits. Imagine tights not only in a full range of sizes from XXS to XXXXL, but also in lengths -- perhaps short, standard, and tall?

We all intuitively know that humans come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and with our ability to design, cut, and sew right here in the U.S. we plan to meet every body’s needs.

So that we can all ride, all hike, all walk, and all enjoy this stunning gift of the Earth. And each other.
Better together.

Sizing Left to Right: Steven - XXXL, Ryne - L, Katherine - W-XL, Melissa - W-XXL, and Bethany - W-XXS