The history of kamarg

First chapter: 1949-1990

At the beginning of the 1950s, the „backpacks“ division of the „Georg Margutsch Lederwarenfabrik“, which at that time produced vehicle tarpaulins, drive belts and the „Gipfelstürer“ backpack brand, was reorganized. Hubert Wöllzenmüller is hired to develop the business area. The story of Kamarg begins.

Prospekt Kamarg
The Munich native had been thinking about starting his own backpack company since 1948, but ultimately decided on a white-collar career. He created the classic Kamarg design and, according to his daughters, was always looking for the next backpack innovation. He remained operations manager until the early 1980s and could still be found at the company even in his retirement.
According to former employees, the name Kamarg arose from an abbreviation for Kamper („KA“) and Margutsch („MARG“). Ms. Maria Kamper is said to have been close to the owner Georg Margutsch.
The workshop was at Griesgasse 22 in Graz, from where you can see the famous Graz clock tower, which became an essential part of the brand’s logo.

The history prior to the foundation of the company „Georg Margutsch Lederwarenfabrik“ (1939-1949)

Until the outbreak of the Second World War, the respected saddlery and strap company „Eduard Hofmann & Co“ was located at Griesgasse 22, which was acquired by Georg Margutsch in December 1938 as part of a forced liquidation for which he had applied in the fall. The liquidation was the result of an attempted Aryanization after the company was placed under provisional supervision in June 1938. Whether Georg Margutsch acted as a driving force in these events, as a stand-in for a Graz competitor or as an opportunistic buyer is still unclear and is the subject of ongoing research that we will be conducting in autumn 2021 together with the Karl Institute for Economic, Social and Corporate History-Franzens University of Graz have started and will publish here. The Jewish previous owner Alois Blühweis was persecuted after giving up the business and emigrated in January 1939. He died in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia in 1943.
Georg Margutsch tried several times to register a business in Graz (he was originally from Kirchbarch in Styria), but this was denied to him until June 1942, which is why the company was temporarily operated as a branch of another Graz saddlery and Georg Margutsch worked in the field of a Graz company Textile company worked. Unfortunately, it is unclear to what extent the company was actually economically active after registering its business between 1942 and 1949.
In 1946, restitution proceedings were finally initiated and the Jewish previous owners, who were now living in Italy and the USA, were compensated through out-of-court settlements in February 1949.
In the course of 1949, the company finally began regular operations as the “Georg Margutsch Lederwarenfabrik”.

Expansion due to the Austrian hiking boom

Kamarg backpacks are initially only sold in our own store, but ultimately also through sports shops.

Berghütte in den Alpen
Berghütte in den Alpen
The brand became very successful in Austria in the 50s and 60s, when hiking and adventure became increasingly popular. The company will soon focus solely on the production of backpacks and bags. A company audit in 1960 documented supplies to 2,000 sports shops in the Alpine region, 35 sewing centers and 33 employees.
In 1972 the company was handed over by Georg Margutsch to his son Herbert Margutsch. At the end of the 70s, the company sold 500 backpacks a day and, in addition to hiking backpacks, also had backpacks for skiers, anglers and mountaineers in its range.

Missing investments into new machinerey and a lack of innovation caused a slow decline of the company which started in the late 70ties and ended in the closure of the company in 1990.

The second chapter: 2013 until today

In the spring of 2013, Franz Drack found an old Kamarg backpack while cleaning out the attic of his parents‘ house as part of a move. The beige Kamarg was stored in a wooden box and was used by his father first as a school bag and then for work. The backpack was purchased in 1953 and was still fully functional. There was wear and tear on the materials but nothing was broken. Franz cleaned the backpack and started using it as a daypack for work. Many colleagues and friends liked the simple and timeless design.

Kamarg in a box

It was this backpack that made Franz think. He started thinking about all the backpacks and bags he had bought over the years, many of them well-known brands. Most of them were long gone, and despite careful handling, they rarely lived to see their second birthday. The zipper broke, plastic brackets broke or fatigued, and the outer material was often not strong enough. In stark contrast to this was a product that was almost 62 years old and still fully functional. It seemed like Kamargs were truly made to last. They were not disposable products, but companions. Franz couldn’t let the idea go after that. In June 2014 he decided to breathe life back into the brand.

As a first step, Franz began buying old Kamargs at flea markets or asking friends and acquaintances about their Kamargs. The trail soon led to Graz and Vienna. These old backpacks were the basis for the prototypes. With the exception of water resistance, nothing, absolutely nothing, should be changed.
Then Kamarg was rebuilt step by step: the brand was registered again, the company was founded (in Sweden for the time being) and work on the first prototypes began.
On June 6, 2017, Kamarg finally launched on Kickstarter to crowdfund an initial production.
The financing goal was reached in just 5 hours 49 minutes. The project reached 995 supporters from 14 countries and the initial production of three colors and the rain cover was secured.
Kamarg Kickstarter Graph
In autumn 2018 the company moved to Vienna and work on the Kamarg Pro (Model 59) began. At the same time, accessories such as laptop cases were being worked on.
Product development for the Kamarg Pro was completed in summer 2020, and another Kickstarter campaign started at the end of September 2020 to enable initial production for the Kamarg Pro.
Here too we were pleased about successful funding.
In 2020, the lightweight Kamarg Mini daypack was released, based on the Model 32 from the 70s.
And the adventure continues. History is being written.