Meet Drake’s Apparel Brand: October’s Very Own
Contributed by Rebekah & Elly
Brands, Collabs, Fashion
December 7, 2022
Brands, Collabs, Fashion
December 7, 2022
Rebekah & Elly
If you’ve been anywhere near a radio over the past decade, you’ll probably be familiar with soulful Canadian rapper and artiste, Audrey “Drake” Graham— also more simply known as Drake.
If you’re a superfan, you might also know about October’s Very Own, or “OVO”— an apparel and accessories label and lifestyle brand helmed by Drake himself, alongside two of his longtime friends, Canadian producers Oliver El-Khatib and Noah “40” Shebib.
Although October’s Very Own (also known as OVO) encompasses multiple businesses including a record label and production company, the clothing line element is perhaps the heart and soul of the brand, offering a range of down-to-earth, functional, and wearable, yet supremely stylish apparel and accessories for both men and women.
The idea of the clothing line itself was the lovechild of Drake and El-Khatib, who, fittingly, met for the first time at a streetwear shop called Lounge in downtown Toronto. The name ‘October’s Very Own’ comes from figurehead Drake’s October 24 birthday. The official logo of the OVO brand is an owl, whose eyes and beak also happen to form the letters OVO. Symbolically, the owl is known to represent wisdom, mysticism, and wealth, which is extremely on brand for the trio of founders.
“Our goal is to continue to establish OVO as a global lifestyle brand,” said El-Khatib in an interview with Strategy Online. “Success to us is measured by happiness and that’s derived from doing what we love. We have remained consistent and stuck to our vision and I believe this yields a certain authenticity that connects with people.”
To date, the company rakes in approximately $28.3M per year, with 1.4 million loyal followers on their Instagram and counting. One could easily attempt to attribute the brand’s success to Drake’s celebrity impact, but the fact of the matter is that celebrity-backed brands don’t always necessarily do well— in fact, plenty of them have completely tanked.
Our take? The key to OVO’s success lies not in its connection to celebrity, but rather its celebration of its artistic roots and authenticity. In an interview with Billboard in 2014, El-Khatib laid out the original vision behind the clothing line’s strategy:
“We knew that no matter how big his (Drake’s) career would get and how big his celebrity would get, we wanted to offset that with something that always reminded everybody and us of what we set out to do. We’re going to try and get as big as possible and we’re going to try and have as much success as possible, but we’re going to have this local blog of ground-level energy that’s OVO—that’s untainted, that’s not for sale, that’s uncompromised.”
In line with this ethos, OVO has not gone the expected route of putting out collections with a lot of flash and pomp. Instead, it promotes its products in a more subtle way, highlighting exclusivity and demonstrating a loyalty to the Canadian street scene and other locales that inspired the brand and its crew that works tremendously well with both die-hard Drake fans as well as genuine players in the streetwear arena. .
The brand’s first ever launch was a collaboration with luxury Canadian apparel company, Canada Goose, creating a stunning all-black parka with genuine coyote fur trim. Only 300 models of the jacket were made— 100 for friends and family of the brand, and 200 for sale. The reason OVO picked Canada Goose for their premiere release was that the crew behind OVO were longtime fans of the brand, selecting their warm, durable, and timeless outerwear to weather cold Toronto winters.
Drake sporting the October’s Very Own X Canada Goose Chilliwack Parka at the product launch. Image courtesy of Freshness Mag
After almost a whole year, OVO finally released their own official merchandise in honour of the second ever OVO music festival, one of the products under the OVO brand. The line was made up of T-shirts, sweaters, and a varsity jacket created in collaboration with sustainable Canadian brand, Roots. Similarly to their first offering, the line was first spotted on friends and family of the OVO crew. A year after that, the label released its second piece of gear— another collaboration with Roots, this time being a varsity Away From Home tour jacket retailing exclusively at Nomad in Toronto and Nepenthes in New York.
By this point, demand for more products from the coveted label was so high that fake versions of the brand began popping up on the market. In response, the OVO crew launched the official OVO online store in 2012— on Drake’s birthday, of course. The in-house launch included a collection of T-shirts imprinted with the brand’s logo in black and gold.
From there, the brand continued on their homegrown track, collaborating with Canadian baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, to create custom baseball caps that were only possible to purchase at OVO’s fourth festival in 2013. This venture into sportswear continued with Drake becoming the global ambassador for Canadian basketball team the Toronto Raptors— a longstanding collaboration that has resulted in dozens of coveted OVO X Toronto Raptors collections, as well as more collaborations with franchises such as Jurassic Park.
Toronto Raptors X Jurassic Park X OVO jacket. Image courtesy of Blog To
It’s apparent that OVO’s ethos of exclusivity and selective collaboration has worked tremendously for them. The brand has cleverly circumvented the trap that most celebrity-backed brands fall into, which is demanding that consumers purchase items simply because they are fans. Instead of focusing on Drake, OVO pays homage to all the places, people, and elements of pop culture that contribute to what makes Drake and his crew the real deal.
To date, the brand has worked with the likes of Nike, BLK DNM, Kitsuné, Air Jordan, and more, and has had pop ups and promotions at retailers such as Nordstrom and the renowned Parisian boutique, Colette.
In the fall of 2022, the label released its third collaboration with the iconic Japanese streetwear label BAPE, which included a well-rounded line of both apparel and accessories. For this collection, BAPE revamped its ‘Ape Shall Never Kill Ape’ slogan to ‘Ape Shall Never Kill Owl’, a phrase imprinted on multiple pieces from the collection.
A jacket from the BAPE x OVO Fall Winter 2022, image courtesy of @bape_us on Instagram
This reengineering symbolises the established relationship between both legendary brands, and speaks volumes on how OVO has definitively cemented its credibility not only as another celebrity company, but as a major player in the industry in its own right.