THEY were images once emblazoned on the product of Sheffield’s industry, from knives to files, and saws to bars.
In 2012, however, it appears logos of old city steel companies - once an assurance of quality - are being used in a somewhat different capacity. Namely, on clothes, as a symbol of ‘South Yorkshire cool’.
A new range of T-shirts featuring once-famous-now-much-forgotten Sheffield trade marks have been a Forgemasters-sized hit with city fashionistas.
A run of three different designs has almost sold out instantly, while Ben Dunmore and Alasdair Hiscock - the two creatives behind the project - are working on a series of follow-up garments.
“You don’t necessarily associate the old steel industry with fashion,” says Ben of South View Road, Highfield.
“But some of these images look like they’ve been beamed back from the future. They’re incredible. We just thought they’d be make great T-shirts.”
If it sounds like an unusual project, it all started with a book which, when it comes to 21st century style, perhaps had a rather unpromising title: Register Of Trade Marks Of The Cutlers’ Company Sheffield.
“The 1953 edition,” clarifies Ben.
He discovered the tome - a mammoth list of the trade marks registered by every Sheffield company in the mid 20th century - in Freshmans vintage shop in Carver Street.
“I was looking in some old boxes while waiting for my girlfriend,” notes the 24-year-old. “Once I opened it, I couldn’t put it down.”
He bought it for a fiver. Which, as it turned out, was something of a bargain.
Apart from since seeing similar books selling online for more than £50, he and Alasdair soon plotted a plan to reintroduce the symbols via the medium of clothing.
The pair - whose design and publishing company Article Works is based in Trafalgar Street - chose their favourite images, and screen printed them onto plain white T-shirts at a workshop, fittingly, in an old electroplating works. Each garment, released under a specially created label called Project Trade Mark, comes with a history of the company it features.
“It’s about celebrating the city’s history and heritage,” says Alasdair, also 24, and of South View Road.
“Some of these steel magnates were real eccentrics, and the trade marks reflected that. They were works of art, often abstract and generally quite beautiful. This hopefully helps reintroduce them to a new generation, I think.”
And it seems it’s not just trend-setters who like the T-shirts. City authorities are rather enamoured too.
After learning of the project Museums Sheffield got in touch, and is now in discussions with the pair about potentially running an exhibition of the logos in 2013.
“It’s early days,” says Alasdair. “But we’d be excited about doing it.”
The only problem? They’re not entirely sure, legally, where they stand with reproducing those trade marks.
“We’ve done a lot of research and, to the best we can find, they’ve expired,” explains Alasdair.
“We’re not claiming them as our own and we’re not using them to promote anything.
“This is a tribute to those companies and to Sheffield’s past. We think it benefits the city to have them in circulation again.”
n Visit the Project Trade Mark website at www.projecttrademark.com