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Here’s a problem we didn’t have twenty years ago – the need for a bag that can hold a camera – and its charger – and a laptop – and its charger as well as various other pieces of equipment. Ever on the lookout for niche quality products made in China, here at Nicely Made in China (NMiC) we think we’ve found something that might interest our photography readers. So to learn more, we’ve interviewed two bag designers, Quincy Wong and Yee Chan, founders of Z-Kin, a Hong Kong-based design company specialising in and designing better camera bags. How did the Z-Kin adventure begin? 5 years ago, after a career designing products for other people, we decided to start designing our own. We noticed how people, including ourselves, were using cameras a lot more. We looked for bags that could securely hold our gear but failed to find anything we liked. So, given that we’re both designers, it was natural that we began designing our own bags. Every design represents a joint effort.
What’s so special about Z-kin bags? All our bags have features that make them easy to use in a range of everyday situations, taking account of the varied lives we all lead these days – from business needs to more leisure linked activities like hiking, travel and different hobbies.
How many collections do you have? At the moment we have 3 different collections. The Getaway collection (launched in 2014), the Raw collection which has been around for 3 years and we also have a Modern Vintage collection. We have about 50 bags in all, with each item available in 2 or 3 colors.
Do you keep upgrading the collections and how often do you come up with new products? We add new products to our collections every 3 or 4 months. These can range from camera bags with a totally new look, or just some fine-tuning with new details or colors. For example, we could change the lining of a bag to a more lightweight material.
What type of fabrics are you currently using? At the moment we use nylon canvas for the main frame but we consider Z-kin bags as fashion bags so we constantly explore new materials. As well as nylon canvas, each bag has leather that we source from China, Europe or Brazil.
What are the trends in bags these days? We can see trends changing as people don’t like to use big bags anymore. This may be partly because people – at least in Hong Kong – use different cameras like mirrorless cameras and of course smartphones. So we adapt by preserving space for cameras in our bags but we also know that people need more space for their personal belongings.
How long does it take between design and production? We first need to make samples which can take about 2 months. Sometimes we design a product which doesn’t work, so it’s back to the drawing board. All in all it takes between 4 and 6 months. It’s a painful process but an interesting one.
Do you know where are Z-kin clients located? Our clients live mainly in Asia (80%). Then 15% are based in Europe and the remaining 5% in the US.
Where are the bags made? They’re all made in mainland China.
How do you decide your pricing policy? Of course the price depends on our production costs, but also, we don’t want to be an expensive brand.
Will you design other products apart from bags? For the next 2 years we will stick to bags as there seems to be much potential that we have yet to explore.
How many people work with you on Z-kin bags? We are a small company with about 10 people working with us in the Kwun Tong district of Hong Kong.
Could you give Nicely Made in China readers some details about what’s coming at Z-Kin? For the summer 2015 we will launch a range of non-camera bags! Watch this space!
Especially for Nicely Made in China readers there’s a 10% discount when using the code ZKINWISE at the check out when buying a Zkin bag from Bagwise.
Zkin website: www.z-kin.com