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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals


There’s a lovely description on Thom Barnett’s Mamnick website that explains where his company name comes from. No, it isn’t some strange South Yorkshire reference to Nick’s mam (whoever she might be), but the logo does give us a bit of a clue. Mam Nick is actually one of the many hard cycle climbs on our doorstep in the Peak District. It’s a big, long windswept climb and even for the super-fit it’s a big struggle. But, like most struggles, getting to the top is what makes it all worthwhile, and that makes a good metaphor for the Mamnick ethos.

The shirts, money clips and tie pins aren’t outsourced to some far flung sweatshop to keep profits up; Thom has found local manufacturers, seamstresses and craftsmen to create the designs to exacting standards. He cites his grandfather (a Sheffield steelworker) and those local manufacturers with a sense of history and place in the community as constant sources of inspiration. In his words, its all about "Doing one thing at a time, as beautifully as possible."

How would you describe your work?
Less is more when it comes to designs for Mamnick. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel. It’s classic with subtle details, the focus is on being well made by honest people with bags of manufacturing experience, who pay attention to detail down to the very last last stitch. It doesn’t always go according to plan but we’re constantly trying to improve things. That’s all we can do, and I think we’ve come a long way in a short space of time.

I tend to take it one piece at a time and design things as was well as I can. After I get a prototype or a sample back, I re-consider it and re-evaluate it on a number of levels. I try and listen to my intuition, it’s the only thing I’m certain of. I put 100% trust in my own taste – if I like something I have to believe that other people will too.

What inspires you?
When I first started riding road bikes I knew I wanted to incorporate the places I was visiting into something creative. Now those place make up the core of what Mamnick is about. In my spare time my passion is for the bike; it’s a positive obsession I can take into old age. That may sound a bit grey, but being out there on the bike had a big effect on me when I finished my degree. It was something to focus my energy on, and drawing creatively on these places gave me a incentive to both work and ride. I wanted to build something that meant a lot to me, not just a name that I dreamed up. It sounds far-fetched but I think riding the bike gave me a similar feeling to when you’re in a creative mindset. Spending hours alone in Derbyshire helps me think straight, clears my head of the unimportant things.

The Made in Sheffield collection is dedicated to and inspired by my Grandad. He worked within the Sheffield steel industry his entire life. It’s nice to try and carry that on in a way and to learn about Sheffield’s heritage.

What’s your workspace like?
Funnily enough I don’t have one. We’re working on a showroom at the minute so hopefully I’ll get some kind of practical workspace in there, but it’s still very early days. I’ve been on the move for the past six months so I’m usually on a train, in a factory or in a coffee shop sat on my lap-top. It’s the dark-truth of trying to build a clothing brand from the ground-up!

What do you love about Sheffield?
I love how green it is and how quiet it can be for a cultural city. I also love how close to the countryside we are, it’s the best of both worlds for me. If you’re a creative, it’s a great base. It’s financially viable to chance your hand at what you’re passionate about. I can’t imagine trying to start a clothing brand anywhere else, nor would I want to.

What would you do to improve the city?
I think Sheffield is great as it is. At the end of the day, It’s what people make of it. It’s our city and if you don’t like it, try and change it. Moaning is something I want to leave behind, life’s too short.

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