Darlene A. White
Italian luxury brand Gucci and Detroit-based clothing line Detroit Vs. Everybody have teamed up for a limited-edition T-shirt collaboration.
The limited-edition T-shirt has been revamped to celebrate Gucci Changemakers. The T-shirts retail for $390 and each of Gucci’s flagship boutiques in 11 U.S. Changemakers cities will carry that city’s name. T-shirts are available beginning Monday at Gucci.com.
“My partnership with Gucci is a dream come true, not just for me and my team, but also for celebrating the city of Detroit’s cultural richness and innovation,” says Detroit Vs. Everybody founder Tommey Walker.
And to honor Walker’s hometown, Gucci also released a special-edition Gucci vs. Everybody T-shirt, joining the creative identities together, available exclusively at the Gucci store at Troy Somerset Collection.
“I’m really proud of the collab and even more humbled that the project supports change-making philanthropy at the grassroots level, where it is needed the most,” Walker says.
The new collaboration with Gucci is geared toward “Everybody.”
“We seek inclusion, rather than exclusion; and unity, rather than divisiveness,” Walker says.
The Gucci Changemakers North America Impact Fund is a social impact initiative focused on increasing inclusion and diversity within the fashion industry and across communities and cities. In addition to Detroit, the 11 U.S. focus cities include Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Gucci Changemakers provides donations to nonprofits within the 11 cities that support social change and help to build strong connections and opportunities within communities of color.
The blueprint with the Italian fashion brand began almost two years ago, when Walker spoke to his alma mater, Cass Technical High School, at an event hosted by the leadership team of Gucci North America in 2019. Walker met Antoine Phillips, vice president of Brand and Culture Engagement for Gucci, at an event in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. Gucci was in town to launch Black to Techno, a movie about the history of Techno Music, which originated in Detroit. That moment led Phillips and Walker to the collaboration.
Walker says the pandemic created challenges getting the collaboration off the ground.
“Thankfully we all adapted to get things done,” he said. “We just wished to spend more time with Gucci’s team in person.”
Walker says Detroit is the best place to market the new collaboration compared to other cities.
“Detroit stands out,” Walker says. “Detroit has had its ups and downs, Detroit has become a universally inspirational metaphor which resonates for any underdog anywhere in the world that becomes top dog by marshalling the power of unity, whether a person, a team, a city, business, or a movement.”
Before Detroit vs. Everybody, Walker spent years creating album artwork and business cards for local talent, leading creative campaigns for artists signed under major record labels like Def Jam Recordings and Interscope Records. Walker also managed a screen-printing business out of the Russell Industrial Center with his business partners.
Walker says as he watched television while preparing for a trip to California, he caught news coverage about the corruption scandal involving former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. He said he was fed up with how Detroit was being portrayed during that time and wanted to rebuild the city’s image. In 2012, he founded his company VS. Everybody.
A simple concept with a powerful message is all it took for Walker to be the first to inspire his city with the “Vs Everybody” message.
“My mission is to awaken the spirit of Detroit living in Everybody – to inspire everybody to persist, rather than quit,” he said.
Walker also hopes the collaboration with Gucci will put an end to knock-off designer brands.
“We hope that from the collaboration, consumers will realize that the only places to buy our authentic gear, which is designed and produced in Detroit, are at our flagship store in Detroit, on our website, and through a very limited number of highly select specialty store partners,” he says. “This is because whatever proceeds wind up in the hands of counterfeiters are not deployed by DVE and its social impact partners to make change.”
This collaboration with Gucci was meant to be, says Walker.
“We’ve been cause driven since we started our brand in 2012, long before it became a ‘thing’ for corporate America,” he said. “Social impact is in our DNA.”