Elliott Sayles was born in Ohio, moved to L.A., and then was uprooted to Memphis when he was 14 years old.
“That first year was extremely tough,” Sayles says.
And, yet, when Sayles moved again — this time as an adult to Nashville — he knew he would be back.
“I had things to contribute,” he says.
There’s a stickiness to the city (that thing that drew Sayles back) that Sayles thought he could spread.
He saw the Bass Pro finally open in the Pyramid and tourists taking away trinkets. How’s Memphis seen to outsiders?, he wondered. What little bit of Memphis could he offer to be taken back to Missouri or Hawaii or wherever?
Sayles launched Mane T-shirts about two years ago. For the imprint, he wanted a Memphis version of “Don’t Mess With Texas” or a “I Love New York.” He settled on the word “mane,” that bit of Memphis-speak for “man.”
“It’s part of the vernacular,” Sayles explains.
Mane T-shirts offers the Mane shirt, Vote Mane shirt, a Little Mane onesie for babies, an Ain’t it, Mane shirt, and a University of Mane shirt.
He’s heard stories of out-of-town impromptu meet-ups of Memphians drawn together by the shirt. He heard of the shirts being traded in the Olympic village in Rio. “It’s somewhere out there in the world,” he says.