You may have seen the apparel—shirts with a bearded, bespectacled silhouette of a man with the letters “IKBD” boldly written across them.
You may have wondered what the reasoning behind the shirt was, or why people were even wearing it. The man with all the answers is a Northern Kentucky University student Bob Durstock, the creator and inspiration behind the design.
The T-shirt popularity began as a joke among friends, but quickly turned into more. A friend of Durstock’s, Brent Bertzinger, noticed that a lot of people would stop to chat with Durstock on campus, if not just to say hi. Bertzinger jokingly suggested that because many people knew him, he should have his own T-shirt.
Durstock thought it would be funny if he could actually make a T-shirt with his face on it. So he went with it and ordered—in bulk, the least expensive route—around 50 T-shirts to sell to his friends. The word quickly spread and led to a phenomenon.
“It was awesome to have a friend start his own business like that,” said Dan Heath, a friend of Durstock’s who claims to be one of the first to buy the shirt. “I just knew that I had to support him.”
The original shirt was a basic white short-sleeve tee with “I Know Bob Durstock” emblazoned on the front, along with a picture of Durstock. The newer shirts use a silhouette of Durstock rather than his face because he wanted to wear his own design without being questioned.
“The new design looked cooler because it’s not just my face, but the logo of the brand. I’m not worried about walking around with it on anymore,” he said.
According to his website, http://www.IknowBobDurstock.com, people couldn’t get enough of the shirts once released to the public. All 50 of the original shirts were gone within a couple weeks, which led to more business for Durstock. He would stuff a messenger bag full of the tees and pass them out to people on campus.
Durstock also made shirts for businesses, such as a construction company in Indiana who wanted a day-glow green IKBD shirt. An Erlanger restaurant, Greek to Me, also wanted staff shirts that said “Greek to Me Knows Bob Durstock!”
The brand’s reputation grew so large that it even appeared on the FOX19 Morning News in Cincinnati. News anchor Shelia Gray held up an IKBD T-Shirt and proudly said, “I know Bob Durstock!” on the air.
FOX19 news said that “Rob Williams and Shelia Gray both still have their T-shirts from Bob. The T-shirt has appeared a total of three times on our network.”
To take care of the T-shirt printing, Durstock has a partnership with a T-shirt company called Trengine (formerly known as Rockit). This partnership allows him to easily create and distribute newer shirts. Trengine has been extremely helpful in the manufacturing process.
Although making T-shirts is just a hobby for Durstock, he is very dedicated to this cause, and enjoys meeting people because of it. He wants to enforce the notion that no one really needs to actually know him to buy a T-shirt, and he really does want people to come and talk to him about it. He promises that you won’t make him feel uncomfortable by walking up to him and introducing yourself, and he encourages that.
So, if you get the chance, don’t be afraid to approach him and get to know Bob Durstock.
There are five different shirt designs to choose from, each shirt costs $5. For more information on Bob Durstock and to purchase a shirt, visit http://www.IKnowBobDurstock.com.
Story by Zachary Rogers