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With high prices and long wait times, was the capsule collection a part of “God’s Plan” for U of T students?

Community members reflect on buying OVO / UofT merch
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Shopping online was one of the ways students could get their hands on OVO / UofT products. CAROLINE BELLAMY/THE VARSITY
Shopping online was one of the ways students could get their hands on OVO / UofT products. CAROLINE BELLAMY/THE VARSITY

“If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” to buy retail merchandise from October’s Very Own (OVO) and U of T’s limited-edition capsule collection. 

Released on August 20, the clothing drop marked the first time the OVO brand — which was founded in part by Canadian rapper Drake — partnered with a postsecondary institution.

In the spirit of showcasing Drake’s hometown, the campaign’s promotional video featured Olympic medalist and U of T alum, Kylie Masse, and highlighted landmarks such as Convocation Hall, Varsity Stadium, and Hart House. 

Though merchandise was offered in select OVO stores, at the UTSG bookstore, and on OVO’s website, the goal of securing goods remained “Nonstop” for students — many of whom waited relentlessly on standby for the drop’s release time of 12:00 pm. 

The Varsity emailed four U of T community members — each scoping out different locations — about their experiences shopping the collection.

UTSG Bookstore

Waiting in line was the second hurdle that Adrian Sherif, a fourth-year sociology and English major, overcame before shopping OVO / UofT. The first, he explained, was the 45-minute commute from Durham Region to UTSG.

“I arrived [an] hour before the bookstore opened,” Sherif wrote. “It was the perfect time because I was 33rd in line — yes, I counted, I had an hour.” Sherif also noted that, by 11:30 am, he was unable to locate the end of the line. 

“Around 20 people [were allowed] into the bookstore [at a time], but only five were allowed to go to the OVO table,” Sherif described. “[I was] led upstairs… [there was] one security guard watching the line. Everyone was limited to four items each.”

“The whole time I was wondering how many of the people in line actually went to [U of T] and how many just wanted [the merchandise] because it was OVO,” Sherif added.

CF Toronto Eaton Centre’s OVO store

Third-year molecular genetics specialist Sarit Radak and third-year computer science specialist Kirill Tregubov didn’t expect to be successful at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre’s OVO store after arriving half an hour after the drop. 

“While we were in line, the online store sold out, so we didn’t think we would be able to buy anything,” they wrote. “People in line were mostly excited to see if there would be anything left.”

The pair was let into the store two hours later. They left with crewnecks, a hoodie, a t-shirt and a hat — the latter which Radak noticed had sold out while they were waiting to pay for their finds. Tregubov added that, though he initially found the products to be expensive, he determined their cost to be worth it, considering their resale value. 

“One of our friends was outside of Canada [at the time] and couldn’t buy anything online. He offered us double what we paid for our merchandise,” the duo wrote. “We both turned him down.”

OVO website

With regards to securing merchandise, U of T alum Kartik Rudra’s strategy was simple: “I refreshed [OVO’s website] as soon as [12:00] hit.” 

“Whenever OVO does a limited-release collaboration, the merchandise usually sells out within a couple of minutes,” Rudra wrote, explaining that his goal was to check out his cart before online bots and other U of T students. His purchase — a grey hoodie — was the product of a “10 second scroll” and a “quick decision.”

However, Rudra’s choice to buy products was an easy one. He wrote, “Drake’s my favourite artist and I’m indifferent to anyone saying that dropping almost $150 on a hoodie is a waste of money. How often is a university [going to do] a merchandise release with OVO?” 

“Take advantage of it while you can. You get to rep the biggest artist in the world and your alma [mater] all-in-one.”

Students fortunate enough to purchase an item from the OVO / UofT drop have not only received a tangible souvenir, but the memory of fighting for a highly desired item. As for those brave enough to venture resale websites — some of which list the collection’s Varsity jacket for over $3,000 — we offer one fragment of advice: “Laugh Now Cry Later.”