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The Influence of October's Very Own on Toronto's winning culture

“I let Ollie take the owl, told him brand it for me”  - Drake

Oliver El-Khatib, best known for his OVO Owl design, his close business relationship/friendship with Drake and for co-founding the brand OCTOBER’S VERY OWN, was recently honored at the Toronto Design Exchange. With his business partner killing the billboard charts, Oliver has echoed this success by creating unique visuals that define not only Drake as an artist, but also the city of Toronto. From their humble beginnings, they’ve managed to build their own lane and create a brand that people flock to. Through working in partnership with big names like Roots, Timberland, Jordan Brand and Canada Goose to launch limited edition clothing, Oliver has positioned OVO as a niche luxury Canadian brand.

Besides visuals, Oliver has grown the brand with other ventures like the signature OVO clothing line and OVO Sound, a Toronto-based record label who recruits and signs new Canadian talent like PARTYNEXTDOOR and MAJID JORDAN. Oliver has also worked in partnership with Apple Music to launch OVO Sound Radio, and played an important role in establishing OVO Bounce, a highly anticipated tournament that features NBA athletes. This connection with the NBA grew and was a major force in bringing the 2016 All - Star game to Toronto.

Perhaps his most significant venture yet has been “Welcome Toronto”, an immersive brand experience with a focus on art, community and basketball designed to “ignite the culture of Our game, in Our city”. This initiative had a significant impact on the city - it was through this that a partnership between Drake and the Toronto Raptors was born.

The Canadian Grammy-award winning artist has now been a Global Ambassador for the Toronto Raptors for almost six years and has played a significant role in bringing the underdog NBA team into the spotlight. OVO City Edition jerseys were created for the Raptors and worn during the six 2018-2019 Welcome Toronto nights. This, in turn, put the fashion label on a world stage, allowing for the collaboration between Drake, OVO and the Raptors to grow. As a nod to the partnership with the Raptors and Drake, the franchise has renamed their training facility the OVO Athletic Centre.

Welcome Toronto returned to the 6 in full-force, bringing with it a winning culture that is evident now more than ever, with the Raptors securing their spot in the NBA Finals and being crowned the Eastern Conference Champions - this is the furthest the franchise has ever gotten in its 25 year history. Many people will link the success of the Raptors to Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, two undeniably talented players, but make no mistake, the team’s success is also a reflection of the sport’s culture and the spirit of Toronto sports fans.

Thanks to brand ambassadors like Drake and his partnerships and initiatives headed by Oliver and OVO Brand, the spotlight shines even brighter on the city and on the team, showing the world what Toronto is made of.

Photos Courtsey of:
October’s Very Own -
Hypebeast -
Toronto Design Exchange -


Jason Jay

Founder & Creative Director | CONTENDER Studio