1LoveTO – City & Colour

It’s a gloomy winter day in Toronto, the cloudy horizon filling the office-wide windows, but the laidback atmosphere of The Remix Project offices make for a relaxed setting. Home for creative young folk, working with the creative arts program to make their mark on the city, it also houses the locally-loved brand, 1LOVETO. Co-founder and creative director Bryan Brock greets us with a cheeky smile and a firm handshake; his shaved ginger head has grown out just a teensy bit and he’s, wearing the aforementioned brand, a black shirt with a red heart, the Raybans don’t come off though.

1LOVETO is about bringing people together, celebrating our differences, and showcasing what the city has to offer the world.

He’s a diminutive man, much more compact than either of his partners; co-founder Tyrone “T-Rexxx” Edwards is a hulk of a man, over six feet tall, with tough braids and even tougher style, while business handler Giancarlo “Lo” Falcioni is the stocky, all-around Italian. But Brock is one of Toronto’s biggest creative powerhouses, leading the charge for city multiculturalism and unity. His mindset, his business partners’ mindsets and the 1LOVETO brand’s mindset all meet at the same end: “1LOVETO is about bringing people together, celebrating our differences, and showcasing what the city has to offer the world.”

And boy… has this local brand grown. 1LOVETO had its humble beginnings at Caribana (now unfortunately named the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival) in 2009, with 150 custom-made t-shirts dotting a float that paraded down the streets of Toronto. When people started to recognize and the shirt and logo began taking on lives of their own, Brock and his team did what any other sensible opportunist would, they started a blog (www.1loveto.com).

“We didn’t really know what to expect because neither of us had blogged before, but at the end of the day, the content that we were pushing ended up catching on as well. Now the blog, and Twitter, and Facebook are all huge.” Impressive feats: 1LOVETO has over 13,000 likes on Facebook, and the same amount of Twitter followers – and counting. Bet you wish your own blog had that fanbase.

The Great Wall of China, Paris, England, Jamaica… complete strangers send [these photos] off to us.  And a lot of people get it as gifts, so when people come in to the city, it’s that souvenir that you want to send someone home with.

The t-shirt logo is the most recognizable facet of 1LOVETO: a sharp combo of witty typography and bold pop of colours, concealed within a heart, an ode to Brock’s love affair with the city. Since the rise of the brand and blog, Toronto has become synonymous with the brand, evidenced their website’s Around The World category. Composed of photo galleries of people around the world wearing the shirt, “it’s incredible because we’re able to see where people from Toronto have traveled to,” says Brock, musing. “The Great Wall of China, Paris, England, Jamaica… complete strangers send [these photos] off to us.  And a lot of people get it as gifts, so when people come in to the city, it’s that souvenir that you want to send someone home with.”

It’s the newest Toronto status symbol, joining the ranks of the Toronto Raptors dino-cheerleader, the Blue Jay’s avian mascot and the OVO (October’s Very Own, aka Drake’s crew) wide-eyed owl. Proof: check the last-Friday-of-the-monthly cool kid soiree, the Shuffle Party. Everybody wears the 1LOVETO shirt – it’s an unofficial uniform, if you don’t have anything chic or scenester enough for the nightlife.

Hosted by 1LOVETO and sponsored by Heineken, Brock maintains that it’s “a place to go where you [don’t]have to act cool, where you could just let loose and have fun, where there was all types of genres of music played.” Be that as it may, everybody tends to drink and dress in the flyest way possible.

It’s an easy way to see and be seen; handfuls of local celebs like to drop by – MuchMusic and MTV VJ’s are party staples, while members of the Raptors and the OVOXO crew have also made appearances. Despite the high-profile status, when Brock says let loose, he means loose – “leave your cool at the door, all we care about is you guys having a good time.”

1LOVETO is well on their way to becoming one of Toronto’s most important cultural exports (besides Drake, Melanie Fiona and of course, the Toronto International Film Festival). The locals have really taken to the brand – it’s a tangible representation of civic pride, something that’s been severely lacking in last few years, according to Brock. 1LOVETO is more than just the shirt and the blog, more than just a locally-loved brand; it’s a Toronto-born movement, and the city is proud to represent.

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