This is a summer jersey. It even incorporates the word ‘cooling’ in the name. So, it might seem like odd timing to highlight such a piece of apparel as the northern hemisphere edges into fall. But this shirt, and the company that makes it, deserve props regardless of the time of year.
The form-fitting Glorieta shirt thrives on the hottest, stuffiest days on the bike, thanks to its front and back mesh panels that are weaved with a type of yarn that has baked-in moisture management properties. The yarns, called hydrophilic and hydrophobic, which are basically fancy words for moisture-wicking, are meant to naturally cool body temps without using fabric laced in chemicals. It could come across as gimmicky but it works. Air flows easily through the material, and the stink factor is far less noticeable than with pure polyester. For added sun protection, the non-mesh parts of the jersey are UPF30, and have a soft cotton-feel versus a scratchy synthetic one.
Fabrics aside, I also really appreciate the subdued style across Kitsbow’s line—the simplicity of the design and lack of loud logos attains the somewhat-abstract mix of form and fashion that we as riders are always striving to find in our apparel. We want performance but we don’t want it to look like performance. We want to appear as though we’re riding in a casual cotton tee, but smell like we just stepped out of the shower. Kitsbow nails that aesthetic with the Glorieta.
But it’s not just the shirt itself that makes me want to support and recognize the brand. The company has made a concerted effort to reduce waste and move away from the sort of fast fashion whose associated waste has a detrimental impact on the environment. Kitsbow has implemented a Made To Order manufacturing process in their Old Fort, North Carolina, factory, where all its apparel is sewn. Since materials aren’t used until an order actually comes in, the factory doesn’t overproduce, then wildly discount or toss out unsold items down the road. That philosophy also affords Kitsbow the flexibility to offer a wide range of sizes, fits and colors. The Glorieta, for example, comes in nine sizes spanning XXS to XXXL, a breadth rarely seen in women’s apparel, and one that shows Kitsbow’s commitment to making clothes for all sizes and types of riders.
Another of Kitsbow’s noble commitments is to U.S. manufacturing, and its decision to move its company headquarters from California to North Carolina two years ago is helping to usher in a new era of manufacturing in a largely forgotten former textile production hub in southern Appalachia.
So while Kitsbow apparel sells at a premium, it feels a little easier to shell out the cash to a company whose substance seems to go beyond purely a quest for profits. No matter the season.