If you ask Tommey Walker what “Detroit Vs Everybody” means to him, he’ll first ask what it means to you. That’s what matters to him. But for the Detroit native himself, his brand represents the unity of the city. It captures “the underdog mentality” — the perspective of an individual, he says, who at some point in life feels they are pitted against everyone, but still rises to the occasion.
Walker founded Detroit Vs Everybody in 2012. Hoodies, T-shirts, joggers, and headwear — all manufactured in Detroit — sport the powerful three-word statement in thick, capital letters. The brand’s offshoot, Everybody Versus, presents collections with equally powerful statements, such as “Everybody Vs Cancer,” “Everybody Vs COVID-19,” “Everybody Vs Injustice,” and “Everybody Vs Racism.” Proceeds from collections often go to local causes. The Everybody Vs COVID-19 line, for example, helped support local small businesses hurt by the pandemic, through a partnership with TechTown Detroit and the Detroit Development Fund.
“Art imitates life,” Walker says of his inspirations. “I felt as if it’s my job as a Detroiter who is actually living the true Detroit experience to depict life as a Detroiter as best I can.”
As a graphic designer, Walker spent years before Detroit Vs Everybody creating album artwork and business cards for local talents; leading creative campaigns for artists signed under major record labels like Def Jam Recordings and Interscope Records; and running a screen-printing business out of the Russell Industrial Center with his partners. It was while watching television coverage of the scandal engulfing Detroit’s then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick during a work trip in California that Walker came to appreciate Detroit’s impact on the national level. That revelation inspired the birth of a brand.
“Once you see the influence of Detroit — when you see how everyone stood up for [Kilpatrick], when you see how Detroiters are in power positions all over the world, when you see how important Detroit is to culture — you cannot unsee it,” Walker says. “I began to grow a chip on my shoulder because at that time, nobody was talking about this resurgence of the city. There was no positive press coming out at that time. One of the main things I say is not to complain, but to contribute. It’s like, at what point do you pivot from thinking about the problem to solving it?”
Today, the brand is housed in Eastern Market and is focusing on its online presence. In late May, Detroit Vs Everybody partnered with the city of Detroit to present the virtual Everybody Vs COVID-19 Unity Festival with more than 20 musical acts. Walker says the event, which was presented on all of the city of Detroit’s social media platforms, received around 80 million impressions.
Visit detroitvseverybody.com to shop and learn more.