In Diversity We Trust: How Jeremy Sutherland’s Hybrid Nation is Spreading a Message Through Streetwear

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Streetwear, at its core, has always been about disruption. Whether against the powers that be or against the grain of mainstream attire, streetwear serves as a platform, a vessel for differentiation.

That couldn’t be more true for Jeremy Sutherland and his brand, Hybrid Nation.

Started in 2012 at Carleton College, Hybrid Nation grew from Sutherland’s background and the world around him.

“My sophomore year roommate — his mom is white & his dad is Black — came back from Christmas break and he said ‘someone called me a hybrid.’ And I thought, that’s kind of tight. I’m a hybrid,” Sutherland recalled.

“My mom is half Norwegian, half Japanese. My dad is Black. I’m a hybrid for sure.”

The brand name was born from the epicenter of college revelations — the dorm rooms.

“We were in a the dorm room at 4 a.m. later that week and we were talking about this whole hybrid thing,” Sutherland said. “One of my home girl’s from Pakistan looked around the room and said ‘this is hybrid nation’ and it snapped,” he added.

Hybrid Nation was, and remains, Sutherland’s truth.

Growing up in the suburbs and playing in the inner city of Minneapolis, Sutherland’s journey formed him and the brand.

 “We were sneakerheads, we were streetwear, we were nerdy philanthropic students, so let’s put this on the clothes to use it as a vehicle to spread diversity positivity & inclusion.”

From printing 12 t-shirts and selling them from the trunk of his car to now partnering with Major League Soccer for a second time as MLS All-Star took place in his hometown, Sutherland and Hybrid Nation’s mission remains the same: purpose.

“There’s value in diversity, in experiencing that. Diversity is everything beautiful about the human race. I live by that. I believe in that. My experiences have told me that. That’s my truth,” Sutherland said. “You have an idea? You have a concept. Put it on a shirt.”

And like most successful brands, Jeremy didn’t do it alone. He had a chef cook up the perfect recipe. Literally.

Justin Sutherland, Jeremy’s older brother, donned a Hybrid Nation “In Diversity We Trust” hat when victorious on Iron Chef.

“I’ll never forget the viewing party when it aired,” Jeremy reminisced. “I’m sitting in the restaurant and my phone, Shopify are going crazy. Orders are coming in by the hundreds. We did it.”

A decade after Hybrid Nation’s inception and Sutherland looks back as it partnered with Avery Dennison for its latest collection.

“I don’t think it’s luck. It’s timing. It’s a marathon. It’s 10 years,” he said.

“To have a company like Avery Dennison to see what we’re doing and for them to say ‘we want to be a part of that,’ that’s huge. That’s meaningful for us — it’s working. We’re not the first ones to do it, but no one in streetwear was writing ‘in diversity we trust’ in 2012,” Sutherland stated.

The partnership hit home as MLS All-Star took place in Sutherland’s backyard but also the same place where George Floyd was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis police in the summer of 2020.

Hybrid Nation’s message and purpose were as important as ever.

“Our time came. Unfortunately, it was after George Floyd, after Breonna Taylor. It happened in our city. This is happening in Minneapolis,” Sutherland said. “Who else is there to support us? Big brands are trying to tap into the community. Who is fully rooted? They call Hybrid Nation — that’s what we do.”

With brands like MLS and Avery Dennison among others, “In Diversity We Trust” has become a promise rather than just a slogan.

“You can’t fake being involved with ‘In Diversity We Trust’ on your hat. And if you are, that’s fine because it’s still helping. Everyone’s invited. Pull up,” Sutherland exclaimed.

“If you’re willing to fake this, put this hat on, and be on the frontlines on 35 W while semi-trucks are pulling down the street, that’s a good start. Do I have a radar going on who’s genuine and who’s not? Sure, but we need bodies. We need allies. That goes with brands too. It’s too front facing.”

As for what’s next for Hybrid Nation, these ten years are just the foundation.

“We don’t need much; we just need people to see what we’re doing,” Sutherland stated.

“At this point, we know that’ll be enough. We know we’re going to have people attracted to the brand because of the quality, the style, and the mission. We need to get it on people’s bodies and in people’s faces. That’s all we want to do. We’re in it for the long run.”

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