On any given tunnel walk, you’re bound to find the Toronto Raptors’ homegrown rookie Dalano Banton rocking some drippy clothes with the words “In Your City” on them. That’s the name of a streetwear brand the Rexdale native and his childhood friends launched together a few years ago. It’s also something of a life philosophy they all live by.
“I just always dreamed bigger, so I used to see myself being all around the world,” Banton said of the motto when we chatted with him earlier this year. “It was something that me and my friends came up with: we started out here, but now we’re in your city. It’s about living bigger than your circumstances.”
His homies and In Your City collaborators—CEO Tommy Cash and co-founders Ck and CBO—are immensely proud of the Raptors’ 46th draft pick, who’s already cracked the team’s rotation with his explosive energy and intuitive passing. This week, they dropped Banton’s very own capsule, The Dubber Don Collection. The limited-edition release consists of two-tone hoodie tracksuits and T-shirts with textured prints, some featuring the Raptors’ classic red, white, and purple colourway.
Besides being his Instagram handle, Dubber Don is what Banton’s friends have been calling him for years.
“In high school, Dalano would always drop 20 points, all the time,” says Tommy, In Your City’s CEO. “Twenty points a game. He would pass and rotate the ball for sure, but every game he’d tell us, ‘Another dub, another dub.’ So eventually he was like, ‘You know what? Just call me the Dubber Don, because I’m the Don of all the dubs.’ From there, we just ran with it.”
“That’s one thing about Dalano: he’ll go the extra mile to make sure you’re good and he’s not shining by himself.”
Tommy and Dalano go way back. Before they were even born, their families migrated from Jamaica together, both landing in the same part of Rexdale—the area in the northwest of Toronto—near Kipling Avenue and Mount Olive Drive. It’s one of the most underserved parts of the GTA. From an early age, they aspired to transcend the circumstances of their low-income neighbourhood.
“We were just trying to show that we’re bigger than where we come from,” says Tommy. “We were running with a saying, ‘In your city,’ like wherever you are, just make yourself known. It’s usually like, if you’re from Rexdale or an area like it in Toronto, you’re stuck in that area. So we’re just trying to show that we’re more than that. We’re growing bigger than that. We’re everywhere: Vancouver, Miami, Atlanta, we’re going to the islands. It became a lifestyle that we’re living.”
Eventually, they began to notice the phrase catching on in their community. They’d see the hashtag pop up on Instagram, used by people any time they’d leave the GTA, even if it was just to neighbouring Barrie or London. Tommy decided to start making apparel with the saying plastered on it. Once Banton’s basketball career began to lift off, taking him to prep schools in Massachusetts and college teams in Kentucky and Nebraska, he’d wear In Your City threads to games.
Just as Banton wants to bring Rexdale along with him on his NBA ascent—wearing the number 45 as a nod to the Kipling bus route—he’s been more than happy to put his friends on, pushing the brand every chance he gets. “He shows it on the court: he’s willing to help people out before he even helps himself,” says Tommy. “That’s one thing about Dalano: he’ll go the extra mile to make sure you’re good and he’s not shining by himself. He’s a leader.”
Tommy can’t say he was entirely surprised when Banton’s name was called at the NBA draft this summer. They had been visualizing the moment together since they were young. “It’s something that we manifested,” he says. “It’s all something that we planned and we sat down and said, ‘This is what’s going to happen.’ And it just kept happening and happening…. I’ve seen him rise from starting out playing at Jane and Finch tournaments here, playing at a local community centers, to traveling and getting prep school offers. When we saw that, we were like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to make it. I know you’re thinking about coming to chill with us, but just focus on basketball because it’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than where we come from.’”
Now, with In Your City, they hope to inspire other youth to dream bigger than their surroundings too. Banton consults regularly with Tommy, Ck, and CBO—via in group chats, FaceTimes, and in-person hangs when he’s home—on the direction of the brand. He’ll give his input on collections, criticize things he doesn’t like, and help strategize on drops. For the Dubber Don line, they did a photo shoot at the North Kipling Community Centre, where Banton grew up playing basketball.
Tommy says the goal is to make In Your City “a luxurious streetwear brand” that feels like a way of life. Each drop comes in extremely limited batches—fewer than 100 per item—with no restocks. “There’ll be a lot of brands in the city that sell merch that’s just printing on clothing. We’re getting our stuff done overseas from all over, like Pakistan, India, China, and some U.S. suppliers, just to get the quality high and keep everyone exclusive in what they’re wearing. We want people to feel like they’re not just wearing a clothing brand, they’re wearing something that’s like a lifestyle. When you’re wearing it, you stand out.”
Banton is keen on giving his friends and teammates an assist whenever he can, and in that same spirit, In Your City aims to help other aspiring designers in Toronto thrive as well. They credit local designer Neeshy, also from the Rexdale area, for mentoring them early on, proving a blueprint to get their brand up and running. Now, they plan to pay it forward with a consulting program to aid young streetwear entrepreneurs in jumpstarting their businesses at a faster pace. “We have the knowledge it takes to bypass the early stages in the clothing industry, so helping startup brands is something we’re looking into,” says Tommy.
You can expect more In Your City collections in the months to come, as well as some collaborations with high-profile influencers in Toronto and even the U.S. Like the brand’s name suggests, they intend to take this thing global. Still, while their ethos is about thinking beyond your immediate environs, the crew couldn’t be more grateful to have Dalano playing for the 6ix, right back where he started.
“When he got drafted, it was crazy. But for him to come to Toronto was the shocking part,” says Tommy. “He hasn’t really been home in three or four years. So, him coming to the Raptors is him finally coming back to his city and actually getting to stay. By God’s grace, he came home.”