This year’s Love Island saw Ovie Soko become one of the nations most treasured, if not THE most treasured contestant of all time. Soko, 28, quickly became the peoples favourite after joining the hit show during Casa Amor week and finally finishing in third place with India Reynolds. He not only stole our hearts with his looks but with his charismatic humour, laid back nature and also his fashion sense.

Ovie frequently sported a range of quirky bucket hats and bright print shirts on the show, so his recent collaboration with ASOS came as no surprise.

Dubbed National Ovie Day, both the fashion retailer and the reality star announced the big news of the collab to Instagram, letting fans know the release date of the collection. Ovie even shared a sweet photo of himself and his dad, who he calls “Pappi Ray” and names as one of his biggest inspirations behind his signature style.

Many of the most popular Love Island alumni go on to collaborate with different fashion retailers after they leave the villa. Take this year’s finalists, for example, Molly-Mae partnered with Pretty Little Thing for a six-figure fee and winner Amber Gill, signed the most lucrative deal to date with Miss Pap at £1 million.

But Ovie’s success inside and outside of the villa has been unprecedented for a Love Island contestant, being a black man in reality television.

Throughout history, the portrayal of black individuals has been characterised by several racialised myths, which thus impact how they’re viewed in reality. When it comes to black males, in particular, it’s common to hear them being described as a “roadman” because they wear a hoodie, or being called “aggressive” because they may speak or act a certain way. Even as a child, I watched many films in the naivety of the disproportional representation that I saw on screen and it became normal for me to see a black character portrayed as the sidekick, the villain, or always the first character to die in a horror movie. 

Thanks to Ovie, viewers were able to see a much more common and realistic representation of the average black male in society, one many of us know to be true. A representation that shows black males have emotion, we see this when Ovie breaks down in tears after his friend was booted out the villa. His random outbursts of dance moves and his hilarious “MESSAGE” exclamation every time someone got a text showed that black men love to have a laugh and be silly. 

GIF by Love Island

Without even knowing, Ovie’s arrival into the reality TV scene has proven timely. When watching reality TV, it can often feel like the recipe to succeed as a black individual involves a lot of conforming and essentially selling out. But Ovie did the opposite; by continuing to be himself and exuding nothing but positive vibes, he has shown many people that it pays to be true to yourself.

And with this new ASOS collaboration – quite literally!

We salute you Ovie.

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