Old Fort, N.C. (Feb. 22, 2022) – Kitsbow Cycling Apparel will discontinue PPE production on February 28 after 24 months of designing, making, and shipping the brand’s acclaimed face masks all over the U.S. Kitsbow will return its sole focus to designing and manufacturing premium apparel items such as the new men’s Haskell Pant and the best-selling Icon Shirt, which is now available in Caprock Red and Deep Blue Ridge colorways.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Kitsbow was one of the first companies anywhere in America to pivot and make face masks. In those early months, medical clinics and fire departments did not have adequate supplies of masks and PPE. Just five months into operating from its new facility in Old Fort, N.C. Kitsbow pivoted to PPE production, initially only for medical professionals and first responders, then the general public. Demand was so strong that Kitsbow’s workforce grew by more than 50% in the first two weeks of PPE production.
Along with national media coverage, the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access in the U.S. Congress invited Kitsbow CEO David Billstrom to testify in July, 2020. Details of Kitsbow’s pivot and subsequent supply of tens of thousands of face masks made in the U.S. can be read in the written congressional testimony.
Experts appreciated that the face masks were designed to be comfortable enough to wear for a full 8-hour shift and were nearly as efficient as a N95 mask, with independent laboratory testing described by The New York Times.
Kitsbow also worked with medical professionals at Wake Forest Baptist University Health and together the two entities co-designed a mask that met the health provider’s needs. Many users preferred the adjustable cords with toggles of the Wake ProTech mask, which eventually made up about half of all of Kitsbow’s mask sales.
“With the wide availability of masks from literally hundreds of different manufacturers, we’re returning to our core business: incredible premium apparel made right here in America,” explained David Billstrom, CEO of Kitsbow.
In total, Kitsbow manufactured 143,000+ face masks and another 87,000+ face shields locally in North Carolina.
Kitsbow will take PPE orders until Monday, February 28 at www.kitsbow.com for those who want to acquire a backup supply of masks for the future. Kitsbow will be offering its filters for sale indefinitely. Kitsbow’s reusable masks are good for the environment, but they’re only effective with fresh filters. Kitsbow will continue selling filters long after the Feb. 28 deadline for ordering reusable masks.
“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank our customers for choosing face masks sewn right here in the U.S.A. It’s been the honor of a lifetime,” Billstrom said.
Kitsbow was established in California 10 years ago, with each detail of our apparel vetted for quality and style. The clothes are also exceedingly durable, which means they last longer, and that the negative impact of production is minimized. Relocating to Old Fort, North Carolina in 2019, Kitsbow committed to a Just in Time manufacturing model, minimizing waste and maximizing flexibility to serve the customer. Kitsbow clothing (except for gloves and socks) is made in the USA, and all Kitsbow products are packaged and shipped using compostable packaging that’s ready to return to the Earth in your own garden. In 2022, Kitsbow rebooted as a public benefit corporation, and has started the process to become a certified B Corp. Kitsbow also is a Bicycle Friendly Business, designated at the highest level (Platinum) by The League of American Bicyclists. For additional information, please visit kitsbow.com.