The Game Fair is back and is promising to be bigger and better than ever before. With so much to already do and see, it’s going to be difficult to fit it all in so I have chosen one of my “must see” brands as my Top Picks this week – Albion Sporting.
For those of you that have followed my blog for some time, you will know that Albion is a firm favourite of mine. They are responsible for producing the very best in luxury equestrian and shooting wear, using traditional techniques and employing the highest skilled workforce that make or finish all of their products by hand! I had the privilege of visiting Albion HQ last year to see exactly how the shooting range is produced (and even got to see my very own bespoke gun slip and cartridge bag in production!) and I’ve been using my products ever since,and they are still like brand new. I could give you a very detailed and exceptionally positive review of the products, but I thought you might like to hear it from the experts… I caught up with Fin Green,Director at Albion ahead of his annual visit to the Game Fair for an exclusive insight into Albion Sporting and what’s on offer this year..
1. Albion are perhaps most associated with the production of the very best Equestrian products, but you also have another side – Albion Sporting. Can you tell us a little bit about where and why Albion Sporting started?
The specialist Albion Sporting division was created in 2011 when Annie Belton and I identified the significant potential to keep the strong Albion brand values alive in a new collection which capitalised on the renowned close links that exist between avid equestrian and shooting enthusiasts. Albion Sporting provides an exclusive portfolio of luxurious leather accessories, with every product boasting the distinguished effortless style that has become synonymous with Albion.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and your connection with Albion Sporting?
I have been involved in shooting from a very young age and always had a passion for field sports and knew from an early age that I wanted to be involved in the industry. When the opportunity arose to create Albion Sporting I jumped at it, as it combined my love of the shooting industry with quality hand crafted products made the real way, no cutting corners. I enjoy driven Pheasant shooting and am starting to get into gundog training which I love, although my Springer spaniel is maybe a little too enthusiastic to say the least….
My favourite job is sourcing new, exciting materials and new product development.
3. What is the most important thing when designing and handcrafting the shooting range?
Just like Albion Saddlemakers, a dedication to excellence permeates throughout the Albion Sporting business, necessitating a meticulous attention to detail and an ongoing resolve to work with only the very best materials to guarantee outstanding quality and the creation of a truly exceptional product.
4. How much work goes in to making a piece from Albion Sporting?
Depending on the product and detailing required, it can take between 6 – 8 hours to make a piece.
5. What makes the Albion Sporting products stand out from the crowd and more importantly, stand the test of time?
All Albion Sporting products are made from high quality, superior materials. All elements, from the leather through to the type of zip we use, are selected with longevity and durability in mind. We believe that quality is not just how it looks and feels, it’s about how it works so when we design each product, practicality is at the forefront. This, alongside the traditional craftsmanship used to manufacture the product, positions Albion in a class of its own.
6. Being the very proud owner of a bespoke gun slip and matching cartridge bag, I know how special the personalisation aspect is. What is the best request for personalisation you have received for the sporting products?
We were approached by a military man who had everything matching – even his car! He requested 2 bespoke rifle cases and 1 double shotgun slip in a green base colour with red and black leather trim, complemented with stainless steel fittings. We had to create new patterns to fulfil the request but Albion’s fantastically skilled craftsmen can realise virtually any personalisation request.
7. There are so many different products on offer to suit all requirements and purses! Can you summarise the difference between each collection?
There are 3 different collections within the Albion Sporting range.
The Classic Collection is sourced from one of the world’s most internationally acclaimed tanneries, renowned for its ability to supply the most desirable leathers of distinction. The leather used to manufacture the Classic Collection gun slips and cartridge bags is an oiled leather. This leather is a material that has undergone an intense nourishing treatment and thus contains an oil content of over 15% its weight. This treatment makes the leather one of strongest available. The Classic Collection gun slips have a reinforced spine for added support, a hand stitched blocked end for maximum strength and security, a genuine deluxe wool lining from Yorkshire for extra protection, a robust and reliable 10-gauge YKK large tooth plastic zip, a leather lined fully adjustable sling with a supremely comfortable shoulder pad enhanced with the softest silky suede and hard wearing solid brass fittings.
The cartridge bags and magazine cases are presented with a beautiful French binding and soft, silky suede lining. Featuring a rapid load hinged lid for quick and easy access, the strong and robust design provides piece of mind. Additionally, the magazine case features a hand stitched box end, offering added strength and security as well as aesthetic charm. The sturdy leather strap includes a soft silky suede shoulder pad making light work of carrying the case.
The Classic Collection really is our most prestigious collection which represents the benchmark for excellence.
The Virtue Collection is made from high quality full grain leather to create stunning looking gun slips and cartridge bags, handmade to the same exacting standards that are the hallmark of Albion Sporting. The Virtue Collection gun slips incorporate a reinforced spine for added support, a hand stitched blocked end for maximum strength and security, a fleece lining, a robust and reliable YKK coil zip, a fully adjustable sling and hard wearing solid brass fittings. The cartridge bags and magazine cases have a rapid load hinged lid for quick and easy access, suede lining and a fully adjustable cotton webbed shoulder strap.
The Field Collection is made from high quality, water resistant canvas with a luxurious leather trim to create a stunning looking yet practical and lightweight alternative to the traditional full leather gun slips and cartridge bags. The Field Collection gun slips offer a hand stitched blocked end delivering maximum strength and secure protection, whilst a fleece lining neatly encases the gun. A robust and reliable YKK coil zip, fully adjustable sling and brass fittings further enhance the product’s practical credentials. The cartridge bag includes suede lining, brass fittings and a fully adjustable cotton webbed shoulder strap.
8. What is your favourite Albion Sporting product and why?
Full Zip Classic Collection Single Shotgun Slip in Cognac. It has a beauty like no other, it’s designed to hold its own and that it does. Its strong and sturdy yet oozes elegance.
9. You have lots of new and exciting products available this year – which can be found on your stand at The Game Fair. Can you tell us about some of these?
We’ll have our entire Albion Sporting range available including our Field canvas collection and both our Classic and Virtue leather collections. We’ll have single and double gun slips, cartridge bags, magazine cases and accessories such as license holders and cartridge belts. We will also have products from our lifestyle range including our sought-after Anna and Olivia clutch bags and our leather belts which are hugely popular.
10. What is your favourite thing about the Game Fair?
That wonderful moment when your customers show appreciation for the products we have worked so tirelessly to create. Feedback is so important to us, we love hearing about how our products are used by our customers and which product is their favourite. It’s also great to finally get to meet customers who have been in touch via email or on the phone.
11. Finally… can you tell us where we can find you at The Game Fair this year?
Albion Sporting have stand E682 this year so do come and see us. We have a Free Personalisation on all gun slips and cartridge bags promotion running this year!
If you can’t make the Game Fair, make sure you check out Albion’s new range (including the gorgeous new license holder – see blog here) on their brand new and very brilliant website!