A black-and-gold Raptors blazer has become the unlikely symbol of a buttoned-down mayor who looks like he might have been born in a navy blue double-breasted diaper.
John Tory is surprised and bemused by the jacket’s popularity — he started wearing it as a fan-pleaser at Jurassic Park but now, by popular demand, sports the blingy frock all over town.
“It’s now become this thing where I can’t take it off. It’s become a requirement that I wear it,” the mayor says with a shrug and a laugh.
It all started May 11 at the opening of George Chuvalo Community Centre in the Junction.
Tory wore one of his two Toronto Raptors jackets — a “We The North” windbreaker and an NBA-OVO number. Fellow guest Clarke Douglas, a partner in Clarky & Zac Clothing Company, told him: “I’m going to upgrade your Raptors wardrobe.”
“I knew the mayor would be there. I had seen him wear a couple more traditional Raptor jackets and thought it would be fun to give him one of ours,” says Douglas, whose company made 200 of the claw-print blazers for Real Sports at Scotiabank Arena that had already sold out at $140 each.
The mayor looked at the blazer and thought: “It is a little garish and not exactly made of spun silk, but fine.” When he wore it to the Jurassic Park fan zone outside the arena during the Raptors’ playoff run, people lined up for selfies.
Then colleagues at political announcements started asking: “Where’s the jacket?”
Last weekend Tory wore a traditional suit to a wedding but caved to guests’ demands. “I had (the Raptors blazer) in the car so I said, ‘Fine I’ll go get it.’”
Douglas says of his handiwork: “It’s a statement piece, it’s not for the shy or bashful.” Part of its appeal, he says, is the contrast with Tory’s usually conservative attire. “It’s fun, it works.”
There are no immediate plans to make more of the print but that could change, Douglas says, especially if the Raptors bring Toronto rapture in the form of a first NBA championship.
Under city rules, members of council are allowed to accept certain gifts worth up to $300 as long as they’re not from lobbyists or their clients or employers.
Newsmaking clothing is nothing new for politicians. Distinctive collared jackets were named after Jawaharlal Nehru, first prime minister of independent India. U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy ties have their own Twitter account.
A U.S. blogger triggered an online backlash when he tweeted a photo of democratic socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wearing a tailored black jacket and carrying a coat, with the observation: “That jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.”
Being a professional Raptors superfan who dresses the part isn’t hurting Tory’s popularity, according to a new Forum Research poll.
The random sample of 1,157 Torontonians found 65 per cent approve of Tory’s work, up 8 points from a similar poll conducted in mid-April. The same poll gave rap superstar Drake, also known for his Raptors attire, a 57 per cent approval rating among Torontonians.
The interactive voice response telephone survey conducted June 8 and 9 is considered accurate within 3 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
“With the city gripped by Raptors fever,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said in a news release, “the mayor, and his gold Raptors’ jacket, have been everywhere.”
David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider