Earlier this month,
Keychains starting at $12
T-shirts starting at $40
Hats starting at $50
Track pants starting at $120
Hoodies starting at $150
OVO Clothing began in 2011 as a collaboration with Roots Canada to produce parkas and jackets. The line evolved simultaneously as Drake evolved as an artist and cultural icon. In 2013, Drake became ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. Job description? Sit at every game and rub shoulders with the starting lineup. Okay, it was more than that. The association worked as a cross-promotion between the Raps and Drake. Drake provided the NBA team with a renaissance of sorts, making them hipper, as Drake expanded his business empire.
Historically, hip-hop has been about the struggle and living through hard times. The extravagance celebrated in this new OVO store, coupled with its posh location, promote a lavish lifestyle that runs contrary to what attracted many to hip hop. But the culture is in a different place than before, though, the enthusiasts remain the same. Young, suburban white men consume around 80% of hip-hop music. That’s not to say the store is catering to affluent white youths, but it does bring hip-hop culture that much closer to their lifestyle.
Look no further than this promo video. Drake and his posse drive slowly through an empty Yorkdale mall in a Cadillac Escalade. Everyone clad in OVO apparel (obviously). The video looks like an invasion of the mall by the OVO Army. Even the brand’s website dubs the new store opening as “downtown to uptown”. The brand and the culture are expanding to the target market who live uptown, closer to the mall itself.
This isn’t to say the OVO brand is an unwelcome intrusion. The pricey apparel is of good quality and much of it is made in Canada. Designs are simple yet eye-catching and include the recognizable mascot/symbol of the OVO owl. Despite turning wearers into walking billboards, the styles are not outlandish or visually offensive.
October’s Very Own appeals to a broad range of Torontonians, whether they’re from the suburbs or the projects. And who understands the city more than the man who holds the key to it? The truth is that Toronto is a diaspora of cultures. Drake, son of an African American and Jewish Canadian, understands the importance of maintaining a wide appeal.
Although, if Drake wants to truly broaden OVO’s appeal in Toronto, may I suggest one alteration to the brand? Change the recognizable owl symbol to an image of the city’s most notorious critter that is synonymous with Toronto: the raccoon.
Alex Correa | The Edge Blog