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Great State Camerawear

The Portland-based operation continues to evolve with Gary Tyler McLeod at the helm

by Graham Hiemstra
on 07 November 2014
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In March of 2013, we discovered Great State Strap Company, makers of leather camera straps. Now, nearly a year later, Gary Tyler McLeod's modest operation has rebranded as Great State Camerawear, with new designs and updates on all originals. Still making each and every strap to bear the brand's embossed name in his Portland, Oregon studio, McLeod has elevated his craft through all around refinement. Designs are even more functional, branding is cleaner and materials have improved.

The hand strap, for example, is now fully adjustable. The minor design tweak provides a better fit for a range of wrist sizes and more importantly, a stronger sense of security—which is especially important when what's dangling from your wrist is a Leica worth triple your rent. "It’s simple, low profile and incredibly functional," explains McLeod. "I think it’s pretty much perfect." Given the opportunity to try both iterations, we can confirm McLeod's sentiments are more than just prideful; the gear really is well done.

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While vintage cameras obviously look handsome hung by such minimal leather straps, Great State has updated numerous straps to accommodate heavier DSLRs and bulkier cameras of the like. Thicker, sturdier bands help, though the newly introduced T-Lug system is quite literally the anchor of the collection. The simple design allows users to remove or swap straps on the fly, so owners of both contemporary and rare vintage cameras can switch straps in seconds. Plus, it's compatible with cameras with non-traditional strap lugs.

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Additional design updates include leather washers to prevent metal on metal contact where straps connect to your camera, and adjustable lengths on two designs. And as one may presume, the name adjustment does in fact allude to future products of the non-strap variety. McLeod confirms he's been working on a camera bag design for some time now. And while it's in the final stages, we'll have to wait just a little longer. Likewise, McLeod went with "camerwear" for the mental image it creates. "I like the idea of wearing cameras and having imaging devices be included as part of a wardrobe," he explains. The more we wear our cameras, the more likely we are to actually take an image worth keeping around.

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Straps range in price from $35 to $112 depending on design, and sell direct from GSC, as well as a range of brick and mortar camera shops. To see the latest collection in greater detail, visit Great State Camerawear.

Second image courtesy of Portland Supply Co, all others courtesy of Great State Camerwear

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