There is always excitement here at The Holborn when we find a new UK brand that you can really get excited about. Too often we find that good products are let down by poor branding decisions or a lack of creativity in their designs.
Mamnick is no such brand, shaped and molded by the Peak District that stands on its doorstep, its feel is far more reminiscent of contemporary heritage US/Japanese menswear brands – such as Engineered Garments or Beams. The hallmark of these brands is creative, wearable designs heavily influenced by function and, as the name implies; their own respective cultural heritage.
The name itself – ‘Mamnick’ refers to a physically challenging cycle route in Peak district. A long, windswept climb, getting to the top is what makes it all worthwhile, and that makes a good metaphor for Mamnick own ethos. The shirts, money clips and tie pins aren’t outsourced from in-house control, the founder Thomas Barnett has found skilled manufacturers, seamstresses and craftsmen both in Britain and Japan to create the designs to his own exacting standards. He cites his grandfather (a Sheffield steelworker) and these local manufacturers with a history and a 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”.
We contacted Thom to get the lowdown on the brand, just as he releases its ‘Made in Japan’ collection lookbook.
Everything has to start somewhere, so how did Mamnick itself get started?
It’s hard really to put my finger on an specific time when I decided to start the brand. I had worked with vintage clothing for over eight years part-time whilst i was studying Fine Art in Sheffield. Both have definitely played their part in the foundations of Mamnick. Drawing on details and materials I’d seen on older garments and understanding the limitation of certain fabrics and other materials, such as stainless steel.
The name ‘Mamnick’ comes from the road in Derbyshire where I continue to ride my bike with my mates in the majority of my free time. In fact, all the garments we’ve made so far are named after places where i ride. It was really important to me that I built something that was linked to my passion with the bike and the Peak District. Although we have a couple of products in development that are specific to the bike, I definitely was not interested in making Mamnick a cycling brand.
What were the first items that you ever made under the Mamnick name?
I was encouraged to start Mamnick by two Japanese friends. I had been supplying Osam and Ko’s store with UK vintage for a few years and been designing a few bits of clothing in my spare time. They agreed to stock Mamnick in Japan if I got the ball rolling and wanted to collaborate on two garments, those two piece’s are the ‘Backtor’ and ‘Clough’ shirts.
It was a good starting point and it took a lot of time and patience but we eventually got there and I think we did pretty well considering we had few contacts in the world of clothing manufacture and could hardly communicate at the best of times due to my lack of Japanese. We learnt so much about manufacturing in the UK in such a small amount of time.
The feedback so far has been fantastic and I’m so happy that people seem to be understand our creative vision. It’s a difficult take trying to making your name in a saturated market, especially when we’re not dedicated to only producing one thing, in only one material.
What kind of elements have inspired you during your design process?
The piece and quiet count for a lot when not I’m not working. I’m really lucky to have been introduced to the quiet roads of the Peak District. I sometimes have to remind myself about how good it is being based only a stone’s throw away from total silence and terrific views, It’s far too easy to take it for granted. I know this is influencing me, just I’m not sure how? I think there is some sort of a visual language that I can’t really explain. I really hope that doesn’t sound crap!
Where do you source the fabrics for your garments? What have been your favorite fabrics to use?
All over really. Our first shirts Oxford cotton was woven for us in a mill in Lancashire but since then I’ve found fabrics in France and have also sourced fabrics in Japan.
How do you ensure the quality of your products? Where is it that they are they manufactured?
It was a case of trial and error at the beginning, getting lots of sampling and ironing out the part of the construction that just wasn’t right. I always look to build a good relationship with everyone who touches a Mamnick product, whether that be the manufacturer or the consumer. I like to ensure that the manufacturer understands exactly what I’m expecting from them and what you want from the product. In most cases, I’ve made friends with these people and hopefully we can continue to work closely together for the long foreseeable future.
What kind of techniques go into making one of your pieces?
The majority of the steel products are made by hand, if they’ve been laser-cut then they’ve been finished by hand. The shirts are different. They go through a number of different processes with different people in the factory, all experts in their own particular field. So much so, we used three factories in Japan to manufacture a very small capsule collection.
What can we look forward to from Mamnick in the future? What are your ambitions for the brand?
The beauty of working with such a small team means creatively, I can look at doing almost anything. Something I’ve just started getting the ball rolling on are some cycling shoes, dedicated to Britain’s most famous touring cyclist Ian Hibell. A small run of 100% leather handmade shoes, made in the Peak District.
I’m also in the midst of getting the cogs turning on some traditional road bike frames. All made to order and to specification. Steel is real!
You can also follow Mamnick online here:
TB & JMN