By Craig Patterson
World-renowned Canadian musical performer Drake’s fashion retail concept October’s Very Own (OVO) will open two more stores in Canada this year as it expands its direct-to-consumer retail operations. One store will be a street front location in downtown Vancouver, and the other will be in a suburban mall, marking the third OVO location in the greater Toronto Area.
The expansion speaks to the power of musician brands — Drake, who’s real name is Aubrey Drake Graham, is known worldwide for such hits as 'Hotline Bling' and his 2016 studio album 'Views', which included a photoshopped image of Drake sitting on the edge of the CN Tower (and sold millions of copies). Fans, eager to associate with the musician, are buying up branded products under his OVO label, which was founded in 2008 and features OVO’s trademark owl logo. OVO also collaborates with various other brands.
The downtown Vancouver OVO store will be located at 1044 Robson Street, in a 2,000 square foot retail space recently vacated by multi-brand menswear retailer Boys’Co. The OVO lease was finalized over the summer and Boys’Co relocated its downtown flagship to the suburban Coquitlam Centre. CBRE Vancouver’s Mario Negris and Martin Moriarty negotiated the Robson Street deal and local publication Daily Hive broke the news after OVO-branded paper was seen in the windows of the new Vancouver store last week.
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A second OVO location opens this winter at the Square One shopping Centre in Mississauga, west of Toronto. The 2,920 square foot store is in a space formerly occupied by Indochino (which relocated nearby) and will be between Lululemon and shoe retailer B2, across from Square One’s Victoria’s Secret and Microsoft stores.
OVO is ramping up its retail expansion and sources confirm that it has secured other spaces, including at a new high-profile US retail centre with an announcement to follow. OVO currently operates five stores globally and that number will escalate with the expansion.
Drake, who grew up in Toronto and was a star on the hit TV Series Degrassi The Next Generation, opened his first OVO store in Toronto in December of 2014 at 899 Dundas Street West. The small boutique was the brainchild of OVO’s co-founder Oliver El-Khatib, and it followed a summer of 2014 pop-up that was held in the same retail space.
In December of 2015, OVO opened its second store location at 130 N. La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, spanning about 2,400 square feet. In December of 2016, OVO’s third store location opened at 54 Bond Street in New York City.
In June of 2017, Drake made news when he released a one-minute video announcing the opening of OVO’s fourth store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The video involved him and others riding through the mall in a Cadillac Escalade to the tune of his hit song Gyalchester, which further helped put Yorkdale on the map in terms of securing unique branded stores. The 1,580 square foot Yorkdale OVO store opened in August of 2017 — long lineups frustrated some, and staff at adjacent stores said that fights had broken out requiring medical attention.
Most recently, in November of 2017, OVO opened its first store in the UK in London at 30 Berwick Street in the city’s Soho area.
OVO continues to collaborate with various other brands, which is a trend generally as brands work together to create synergies. This fall, for example, OVO is partnering with Canadian retailer Roots on a designer collaboration (not the first time), according to an Instagram post on October 29.
Drake continues to be a booster of Toronto, a city which he is clearly fond of. He mentions Toronto often in interviews and in his music, and spends a considerable amount of time in the city when he’s not traveling. He’s also investing in the city as he builds a 40,000 square foot mansion in the wealthy 'Bridle Path' area in North York and in the past, he has lived in the city’s Yorkville area in luxury residential buildings as well as at the Ritz Carlton Hotel’s private residences in Toronto’s Entertainment District.