Detroit vs Everybody showed up on the Detroit-themed episode of “American Idol” last Wednesday, “Idol” judge and country megastar Keith Urban got into the spirit of things by wearing a Detroit-centric T-shirt. Not a shirt with a Lions or Tigers logo, or even a Made in Detroit tee. The shirt he wore touted a simple message: “Detroit vs. Everybody.”
The shirt is the product of Tommey Walker, a Detroit designer. Along with his partners Sean Williams and Will Willingham II, the trio started churning out Detroit vs. Everybody T-shirts last summer. Urban’s “American Idol” endorsement is the highest-profile placement yet for the company, which has been a hit among athletes and hip-hop heads in the city and is sold out of a 400-square-foot store on Monroe Street in Greektown.
Walker, a graphic designer and freelance artist who has worked with artists such as Big Sean and Mike Posner, says he’s traveled the world and when he tells people he’s from Detroit, it elicits a response — often a negative one.
“We get a bad rap, and I never understood why,” Walker said. “There is negativity everywhere.”
He said he came up with the “Detroit vs. Everybody” concept as a way to instill a competitive mindset in Detroiters and to unite the region. (For a softer message of regional unity, he offers a shirt with a flipside slogan: “Everybody (hearts) Detroit.”)
As far as outsiders, “they decide when they want to love us, when they want to hate us,” Walker said. “The temperature of the city is Detroit vs. Everybody.”
The simple Detroit vs. Everybody design is available on T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies in nearly 100 colorways. Members of the Detroit Tigers, Lions and Pistons have worn the shirts, and dozens can be seen on fans at any hip-hop show in the city. Walker and his team will release new shirts next week to coincide with Opening Day.
The call for Urban’s shirt — he ordered four — came in from his stylist last weekend. The shirts were overnighted to him and Urban’s stylist received them Tuesday.
When the country star wore the shirt on Wednesday’s “Idol,” Walker described the feeling thusly: “You just take as many pictures with your iPhone as you can. Then you get back to work.”
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