For more than two decades, Oi Polloi proudly served its community in the Northern Quarter in Manchester (Thomas Street, as well as Turney Street), winning the hearts of devoted fans with their 'MANC' approach to menswear. However, the recent changes and news of the beloved store's closure left many folks surprised. 

Before OP announced the recent changes, we had worked on a collaborative project together for SS23. Sadly, the amazing OP x UW coloured shirt collaboration never made it to the Manchester store, as its delivery was scheduled just a few weeks after the store's closure this spring. Nevertheless, David and Steve have made the decision to honour the collaboration, which you can find more details about here. Despite the current setback, we remain hopeful that this won't be the final collaboration between Oi Polloi and UW. 

The OP website now claims they are in a state of "hibernation", raising questions about the future of Oi Polloi. In this week's journal, we sit down with Steve Sanderson, one of the OG's of OP, and explore the store's unique 'MANC' approach to menswear and genuine passion, with Steve revealing the plans they have brewing for the future.


Oi Polloi owners Steve and Nigel outside their very first store in Manchester.  


Why did you decide to get into the “rag trade”?

We got into it, because the type of shop we were looking for didn't exist.. the things we loved weren't put together the way we saw it... we didn't know this was a kind of unique quality we grew up just outside Manchester and the city centre drew us in, music, clothes, going out, there's so much cultural stuff to talk about that was influential, but that's not what we're talking about right? This is where Oi Polloi came from... we were open minded, experimental and steeped in culture; we were right in the middle of it. This is what brought Nige and myself together.


Oi Polloi has become an iconic name in the industry, what do you think was the secret ingredient that’s led to such widespread recognition? 

The secret ingredient was growing up in Manchester...not realising at the time how unique it was to have been involved with so much good quality underground culture having direct access...then realising how special it was, seeing it from a different perspective as other people looking in, as opposed to us being fully immersed.


Steve and Nigel co-founders of Oi Polloi.


Universal Works and Oi Polloi go back a long way, what’s the story?

When we met David?... I'm not sure if it's possible to not like David...talented, humble, generous alongside his experience and knowledge. We worked together on a number of projects almost from the start. The team are probably one of the easiest to work with; professional and stress free... that's how it feels from our perspective.


What do you think is the biggest way in which 'Manchester Style' has changed since Oi Polloi first opened its doors?

I think we may have introduced brands that fashion terms didn't exist in what our industry likes to call “men’s lifestyle” ...we brought brands and products into our world and this in turn placed outdoor technical brands like Patagonia and Arc’teryx next to Engineered Garments and Nanamica and Norse Projects etc  We mixed and sampled old and new... past, present and future. Hopefully people are now aware of things that they might not have been...we've brought a global influence all the while looking through a working class, cultural and style obsessed lens. 



Are there any garments in particular that you wish you’d never got rid of / sold? 

No, I'm not a collector... but I've definitely got stuff I should get rid of but never seem to get round to it.


Although somewhat simplistic, people tend to identify decades by the popularity of certain garments, styling choices and trends — what things, if anything, do you think will come to define the current decade? 

The stuff that will define it are the things that don't date – the more classic pieces, made by brands and labels that care about their output. Good stuff is always good. Thing is we're not super commercial, we're outliers and seed-sowers of a certain perspective, looking to potentially knocking things off their axis and creating more dramatic results.  




The discourse surrounding the future of the British high-street is — perhaps justifiably — generally quite pessimistic, but are there any new additions to the independent retail space that you like? 

I’m a fan of people that set up any kind of business with a strong vision.


Oi Polloi has been through alot this year but with so many celebrating the role that your Thomas Street store has played in the menswear world — how does it feel to witness such strong love and support from your community?

We're looking into developing a new version of Oi Polloi. A different way of working, one that's relevant for now. We feel strongly that real spaces are the key to the future...real stuff in a real space.


Your website, somewhat mysteriously states that you are in hibernation for a while…are you able to share any clues as to what’s next for Oi Polloi?

We've been working on and developing Oi Polloi the label... if anyone would like work with us we'd love to talk.