Meet The Man Behind The 'Detroit vs. Everybody' Hoodie That Colbert Loved
July 26th, 2013, 1:00 PM
Detroit entrepreneur Tommey Walker said he would like to take Stephen Colbert and Stephen Henderson out to lunch.
On Thursday night's "Colbert Report," the Comedy Central satirist spoke with Henderson, the Detroit Free Press editorial page editor, to discuss Detroit in the wake of the bankruptcy filing. Saying, with a smile, Colbert "has been pretty hard on Detroit," Henderson gave him a black hoodie with "Detroit vs. Everybody" printed on the front as a gift to sum up the city's attitude.
"I noticed it's a hoodie," Colbert responded in typical sarcastic fashion. "Are you trying to get me killed?"
Henderson replied: "I think you'll be good if you don't wear it in Florida."
It was designed by Walker, the owner of the Detroit vs. Everybody clothing line housed in a small, third-floor shop in Greektown's International Marketplace above Fishbone's restaurant. In the hours since his brand received national exposure, Walker has received a healthy dose of the famous "Colbert Bump."
"It's tough just to keep up with the demand," Walker said Friday afternoon. "We had to turn the notifications we get about sales off just to get some sleep last night."
Walker said Henderson walked into the store earlier in the week to buy the hoodie, telling employees he would appear on the "Report" to discuss the bankruptcy while remaining vague about what he'd do with the shirt.
"It was very surprising," Walker said. "I'm really appreciative of him. He didn't have to do that at all."
Walker has received online orders from as far as Utah and California since the show aired.
Why does Detroit vs. Everybody resonate outside of Detroit?
"It's not a competitive thing," said Walker, who registered his business in late November and opened the next month. "It has a feeling to it. The idea is to put all the negative ideas about the city to bed. Being here, living in the city, is beautiful. It's beautiful. There's nothing like it."
He said he wanted his clothing line to reach beyond Detroit to show the world what the city's mindset is all about.
"I wanted it to be a salute to my city with my brand, but I didn't want it to be a solely Detroit thing," Walker said.
Walker's Detroit vs. Everybody brand has been growing rapidly in popularity recently. A wide array of celebrities, including Detroit Lions Nate Burleson and Reggie Bush, country music star and "American Idol" judge Keith Urban and hometown rapper Big Sean, have been seen either wearing a shirt or supporting the brand.
"We haven't even done much promotion yet," Walker said. "We're in the early stages of planning out our promotion, but it's exciting to see it take off."
Big Sean, who gave Walker's business a shout-out at a sold-out concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills last December, might be Detroit vs. Everybody's most vocal celebrity supporter.
The Detroit rapper went to Cass Tech High School with Walker, whose background is in graphic design. Walker played an instrumental role in getting Sean, now signed to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, established as a rapper, designing his early mixtape art, his logo and playing a role in his fashion selection, which Walker said has been copied and ripped off by other rappers.
"Big Sean and I are close friends," he said. "So, when I saw a bunch of rappers steal his style, it really hurt me."
It played right into the mindset "Detroit vs. Everybody" represents to Walker. Traveling around the country, Walker said he has seen a lack of respect or even some contempt for the Motor City, even as he saw other cities taking cues from the city's style and culture.
"You can't deny the contributions Detroit has made to the country, to the world," he said. "You have to respect Detroit, even if you hate Detroit. That's what it's about."
Detroit vs. Everybody is open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Most shirts are about $30, while hoodies like the one Henderson gave Colbert go for $50. The shop also has women's tanks and duffel bags for about $40 each.