Fashion brand buys historic landmark

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A landmark from Sheffield’s industrial past is being transformed into the headquarters of a multimillion pound global online fashion business.

The former Samuel Osborn Insignia Works, on Rutland Road, is to become the head office of Drop Dead Clothing, the company founded seven years ago by young Sheffield entrepreneur, artist and musician Oli Sykes.

Oli, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as a schoolboy, set up Drop Dead with a £500 loan from his parents after dropping out of Barnsley College.

The Drop Dead brand has gained recognition around the world and, although the business is primarily online, it now has a flagship store in London’s fashionable Carnaby Village.

With Drop Dead needing more space, Oli has bought the 93-year-old Grade II listed former Osborn railway spring factory, designed by Sheffield architect William John Hale and originally known as Rutland Works.

He is transforming it into a new base, with the help of designer Gavin Brodie and his father, Ian, Drop Dead’s property director.

When the work is finished, Insignia Works will provide warehouse and office space along with additional space which Oli, lead singer with Sheffield Metalcore band Bring Me the Horizon, hopes to turn into accommodation and a recording studio.

“To achieve so much by the age of 26 is amazing,” says Oli’s mother, Carol, who is also Drop Dead’s company manager.

“Oli didn’t excel at school because of the ADHD, but we knew he had an artistic talent that has now led to a multi-million pound turnover – a great achievement in this climate. Taking on the challenge of the new building has been enormous but Oli really believes in keeping his business local.”