Meet the man behind the Sheffield-based label Mamnick
Thom Barnett has been running his brand Mamnick for over ten years. Based in Sheffield, the brand designs and makes quality products locally with one objective in mind; to do "one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible". We caught up with Thom to find out more about his journey in the industry, and his love of vintage clothing.
Your products are manufactured locally, in South Yorkshire. Your ethos “Do one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible” is more relevant than ever in a world of over consumption and fast fashion. What is it that drove you to adopt this approach in the first place?
In all honesty, I just liked the idea of making things close to home so I could travel easily to the factories, have as much control over the production as possible, get to know the workers and factory owners. It’s really about people and learning for me. I wasn’t really trying to make a political statement about sustainability, in fact I’m bored stiff of the current trend that brands preach about slow fashion. I’ve been doing that quietly for ten years, it feels like ‘The Emperor's New Clothes’. If brands actually cared about the world (whatever that means!), the best thing they can do is stop production altogether. It’s just another hype-train for the anointed to get on board with.
‘One thing at a time, as beautiful as possible’ is an ethos I live by, not just my brand message. Whether it’s riding the bike, designing a shirt, walking up a hill or looking after my son. It’s all about being in the moment, not being distracted and living in the present. Something I think we all should benefit from.
Mamnick has been around for over ten years now, what’s the journey been like so far?
I’ve loved every second of it. Running the brand and having the freedom everyday to go out do whatever I see fit, from marketing to designing through to the photography and having control as to how my products reach their audience allows me the creative freedom in so many fields, that the job doesn’t ever get boring. There are many financial risks to take, which can sometimes be stressful but it improves your conviction and finely tunes your decision making. Taking on more responsibility as an adult has made me mature and become a better person.
I first came across the brand thanks to your iconic Chip Fork. Where did the idea come from?
My late friend Steve Millington gave me the original idea down the pub. I went away and refined the design and put the sample into production. A week later I ordered x100 units – I was confident it might be a success and it’s still a popular item on the website to this day. I like to think of it becoming an iconic northern tool, not that there aren't chippies down South, but there seems to be something about the product just feels very Northern – which continues to put a smile on my face.
You’ve built a strong following in Japan, and even opened a store in Tokyo. How did that come about?
I was dealing in vintage clothing before Mamnick and I met Osamu whilst he was shopping for UK vintage about 12 years ago. We started a working relationship with me supplying his then store (West Warts) with British-made vintage items, mainly outdoor brands like Berghaus, Mountain Equipment and Rab. When I decided to start Mamnick he approached me to become an exclusive seller of Mamnick items in Japan. After a few years of wholesale, we decided to extend that relationship further opened our Flagship store in Tokyo.
You’re a big fan of vintage clothing – why do you like shopping vintage/pre-owned? Do you have any interesting stories on some of the pre-owned items you’re selling on MARRKT?
I’ve always liked vintage, mainly because as I come from a working-class background, I never had the money for brand-new items growing up. Vintage clothing allowed me to buy branded, well-made items at a fraction of the price of their RRP. It was a great entry into the world of clothing and products.
The Eyam cape was the a milestone for Mamnick when it was released back in 2013, a small run in collaboration with Kenneth’s 6876 brand. A enjoyable process and insight for me to see how someone else in the industry worked.
I’ve taken that Mountain Equipment jacket to some cool places in the UK, snowy winter walks and scrambles in the Peaks and Lake District (mainly to sit around in when I’m eating my dinner!). Those down jackets lead me to work with Peter Hutchinson before he died too, which was really special for me on a personal level.
Cycling seems to be a big part of your life, as you also manufacture cycling gear and document some of your rides. Tell us a bit more about that...
I started cycling before I started Mamnick, but it has influenced the way I have done things in my life ever since. Mam Nick is the road that goes up Mam Tor, it was a road I loved and when I started the business is was important to me that it was rooted in authenticity – a real place, with a story of its own (not just a logo with marketing budget!). I want people to go there, ride the road, walk the Great Ridge, check out the caves and the topology of the surrounding area, let it affect you like it has done me.
Cycling generally has created opportunities for me to meet so many great people, in and out of the professional sport. It’s still a massive part of my life now, it gives me space to think and explore. A way of feeling like a child – a flaneur! Also, my wife says it improves my mood (bonus!). I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing it and I’ve never been one for going to the gym either.
Other than being the home of the stainless steel industry, Sheffield’s creative community seems to be thriving. Are there any places in particular you’d recommend for anyone visiting?
The best thing about Sheffield is that it’s on the doorstep of the Peak District. I’ve heard it been called ‘Sheffield’s Garden’ before. It’s an understand city generally, which is a Mecca for anyone with an outdoor lifestyle. Climbers, cycling, fell running and ramblers. It’s all here if you want it. Shops seem to come and go for some reason, it's a hard time for independent businesses. That said, a new menswear store called Partners has had a very strong start since opening only a few months ago. I’d encourage anyone interested in menswear to check it out. I’ll be working with them more closely on a few exclusive things with Mamnick this year.
If you enjoy a pint, Sheffield also has some great pubs. The Sheaf Hotel, The Sheffield Tap, The Rising Sun are amongst my favourites. Although, be warned, they tend to be full of overweight cantankerous old men!
What’s next for Mamnick? Any exciting plans for 2023 on beyond?
My Mamnick inventory is already very diverse. From angling jumper and cycling kit, to our ‘Made in Sheffield’ stainless steel items, to parka’s made for extreme conditions. So I’ll be doing more of the same really – trying to source the best fabrics and makers to work with, exploring marketing and photography ideas to try and give us an edge in an overcrowded marketplace. This years Black Label items (Made in Japan) are coming together nicely, with a rather wonderful wool hunting inspired piece being a personal favourite.
Shop Thom's pre-owned pieces from the likes of Nigel Cabourn, 6876, Engineered Garments and more.
Bike photography by Jamie Mourn.