This past Wednesday, during the Toronto Raptors' now-annual "Drake Night" at the Air Canada Centre, the team's General Manager, Masai Ujiri, presented Drake with a custom camel cashmere overcoat lined with a No. 6 black and gold "OVO Alternate" jerseys. It's become a tradition of sorts for The 6 God to receive one of these custom jackets from the Raptors. But how did it start—and why?
David Tran, head of special projects at Garrison Bespoke, the #1 bespoke tailor in Toronto and the company responsible for both Drake's jackets and those $20,000 bullet proof suits, says they had been working with the rapper before he became the Raptors' official Global Ambassador. In 2013, Drake approached Garrison Bespoke for a custom suit to wear to Diddy's New Year's Eve party. From there, he told Tran that he wanted a special suit to rock during the Raptors' inaugural "Drake Night" in January 2014.
"What we generally do at Garrison is we find ways to really make every suit represent the man that's wearing it," Tran told Complex. "We try to think a little bit deeper. We find out how they grew up, what music they listen to, those sorts of things." Tran learned that Drake was a huge Vince Carter fan growing up, so he and his team dug for a rare Vinsanity rookie jersey—which, according to him, was no easy feat. "[Drake] was ecstatic, but even his first comment was, 'How did you find the jersey?'" says Tran.
Drake was ecstatic about the final product, but Tran admits he was surprised when the rapper took the jacket off during the press conference that same night and showed off the lining. "[The lining] was meant to be his little secret, something we made for him," he explains. "But it was really exciting for us to see the jacket all over the news the next day."
Following the buzz, the Raptors reached out to Garrison Bespoke to work on a second custom jacket for Drake—a black suit jacket lined with a red jersey, the No. 6, and the slogan "We the North"—presented to him during the team's home opener in October 2014. That specific jacket was made using a custom weaved fabric that stretches four ways and, according to Tran, actually allows a player to dunk in it. Garrison Bespoke eventually outfitted some of the Raptors players in the same suit jacket and matching trousers.
"[The Raptors] wanted to make Drake a special gift," says Tran. "It's a tradition now, but he doesn't actually expect it, so they always surprise him with something fun and unique."
This year, the Raptors went all out for "Drake Night." In addition to the "Hotline Bling" booth they built at the ACC for the special event, the team commissioned Garrison Bespoke to design a custom $25,000 cashmere overcoat. According to Tran, the outerwear is quite expensive because it involved a lot of handwork and uses vintage cashmere fabrics that were sourced in England, from one of the top mills in the world.
Drake's custom jackets have become so popular that customers have approached Garrison Bespoke for similar pieces, which the company designs under their one-of-one bespoke line of service. The service costs thousands of dollars and gives clients the "ultimate couture experience." Die-hard sports fans have asked for suits to wear to special events, like their weddings, that incorporate a sports element. After seeing Drake's jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs player James van Riemsdyk had a suit lined with his own jersey made.
Tran says he expects the Raptors to keep the "tradition" going in the years to come. "It feels really good to know we made something special," he says. "It's a really unique way to show Toronto pride and Raptors pride—in an unexpected, classy way."