Rep your neighbourhood with Toronto-made custom hoodies popular with hip hop artists
There are lots of hoodies, tees, hats and more that rep our Toronto pride, but one local company is making sweaters that are totally customizable and super popular with rappers and hip hop artists.
The Ends makes hooded sweaters emblazoned with their logo on the front and a custom list of streets on the sleeves (i.e. "ends" like you'd colloquially use it, as in "the west end").
"'The Ends' is what we've always said in my neighborhood when describing where we were. 'I'm just in the East right now, meet me on my Ends..' or 'I'm pulling up to your Ends right now, come downstairs' was the way we communicated someone's area," The Ends founder Bishop Brigante told blogTO.
The style of the hoodies ends up feeling like a modern take on high school varsity jackets stitched with names, numbers and sports teams. An Instagram post from The Ends also compares the look to "stripes down a soldier's arm."
"The concept for The Ends had been in the making for many years. I've always taken pride in my community and where I was raised that I wanted a cool way to represent that in my music & fashion. I spent years playing with design apps on my phone trying to find a way to write 'Kennedy Rd' that would look good on a sweater," says Brigante.
"One night in May of 2019, I started playing around with ideas again, but instead of the chest, I wrote the main streets of Scarborough from West to East down the sleeve. I figured all of these streets had a special memory to me in my life and that this would be a good way to represent my Ends. And that's when the lightbulb went off."
You can go online to order styles with your own custom list of streets, or ones where the logo contains an image of the Toronto skyline or your choice of any flag, or ones that read "Socially Disstant."
"I went and got a sample made and waited for the right time to show it on my socials. The morning I premiered it, on IG live, I sold 25 hoodies in a half hour. That night, I received 30 more orders. By the third day, The Ends was off to the races," says Brigante.
"Initially, all of my orders were Scarborough hoodies because that was the only one I had made, but it wasn’t long before I was getting requests for different Ends like Rexdale and Mississauga, and that's when I realized that I was gonna have to start customizing in order to broaden my customers and build the brand."
Of course, the colour is always totally customizable. Hoodies are $100 each, plus a $20 shipping fee.
"When my customers choose the streets they want on their sleeves, it takes them on a nostalgic journey that has often sparked some emotional responses. I've gotten a lot of messages like 'I can't believe I have my entire life represented on my new favorite sweater. I cried once I received my package.'"
Not only do reviews in highlights on the Instagram for The Ends show that people are into the look, they also find the hoodies really comfortable with nice thick material.
There's an undeniable cool factor, as every other photo on the Instagram page for The Ends is of a rapper or hip hop artist repping their hoodie from the company. Brigante himself is a recording artist that was one of the hosts and VP of King Of The Dot for 11 years.
"It was Kardinal Offishall and Maestro Fresh Wes that were the first to wear The Ends on national television. Kardinal was doing an interview about the Raptors on CBC News and I was losing my mind. Then not long after, Maestro did a press run for his 30th anniversary and was on Breakfast Television, CBC News and many more media outlets," says Brigante.
"Then another legendary friend of mine, Method Man, invited me to his show with Redman in London, ON. There was a crowd of 10,000 people flooding this park, and out comes Method Man in a red and white Ends hoodie for 80 per cent of the show."
Apparently people in the crowd that day were also wearing their The Ends hoodies, and that only fueled the excitement and response to the brand. Something about not only nostalgia for your own neighbourhoods, but knowing that others feel that way about their own (even celebs) brings a spirit of connection to the apparel.
"My ties to the battle rap community for the last 15 years has yielded support from rappers in their battles like Ottawa's Charron (Wild n' Out, BET's Freestyle Friday) or Brooklyn's Math Hoffa wearing it on his podcast 'My Expert Opinion.' It's been a lot of support from communities all over the world and all over entertainment," says Brigante.
"Overall, The Ends is all about your journey and the places that have helped shape us into the people we are today. It's those memories of the first street we lived on, or the city that we moved away from for school that we miss so much. It's about representing home. So out of all the creative ideas I've had over the years, this is the one where the heart is."
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