Billingham Looks To Cross The Pond With High-End Camera Bag Line

By John Laposky On Nov 7 2011 - 6:01am




NEW YORK – U.K.-based M Billingham & Co. brought its line of ultra-highend camera bags and accessories to the recent PhotoPlus Expo here, in an effort to get a foothold in the U.S. market.

The 38-year-old company, founded as a fishing bag company by Martin Billingham, specializes in hand-stitched equipment bags constructed of proprietary heavy-duty, weatherproof materials.

A spokesman told TWICE that the company is not looking to create a large retail footprint in the U.S., but rather, as it does in the U.K., is looking for momand- pop specialty stores with knowledgeable sales staffs who can sell the unique properties of the line.

The company is based in Brierly Hill, England, and is still owned by the Billingham family. The spokesman said the company switched from fishing bags to photo bags in 1978, after founder Martin, an avid photographer, discovered that his fishing bags were becoming popular through word of mouth with professional photographers in New York, who liked the bags’ durability and lightweight construction for their camera equipment.

The company’s present-day bags are primarily constructed of proprietary synthetic materials such as Fibre- Nyte, an abrasion-resistant canvas-like material bonded to a polyester lining using StormBlock butyl rubber. FibreNyte is 10 percent lighter than traditional cotton canvas, and, the spokesman said, is softer, more color-fast because the dyes can be bonded more easily to the material, and remains supple longer.

All Billingham bags have solid brass fittings, and are trimmed with top-grain leather and the heaviest-duty natural threads available, the company said.

In addition to bags, the company also manufactures and markets accessories such as trolley and harness straps, padded lens and component inserts, shoulder pads, pouches and pockets, and photo vests.

The bags range in price for approximately $350 to as much as $800.

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