Richmond streetwear and skateboard shop, Utmost, is bringing its unique urban-style feel to the “City of Angels.
Utmost was formed by co-owners Tom Hart and Jermaine Edwards. Most of
the designs for their inventory, which ranges from skateboard gear to custom hoodies and hats, are created by the duo and reflects their overlapping styles and urban feel. Their branding has gotten them noticed in major cities since they first opened their doors in Richmond and has now landed them in Los Angeles .
Earlier this month, Utmost had a grand opening for their store in downtown LA with sounds provided by Blondie Beach Records.
“We have always been part of the streetwear and skate culture,”Edwards said. “Opening a place in LA kinda just made sense.”
The close-knit nature of the Utmost brand is captured in the fact that the employees from their flagship Richmond store traveled to LA to help get the shop and running during the stores opening week. According to the owners, they are best friends with their employees.
“Our work environment is hella relaxed,” Edwards said. “All we do is smoke a blunt, watch skateboard videos and work.”
The streetwear and skateboard shop has served as a platform for employees to grow as creative individuals. Utmost is also an active presence during Richmond’s First Fridays, holding various events and sponsoring projects of other up-and-coming companies and designers.
Marcus Ingram Jr., who has worked with Utmost for three years, said the company has provided him opportunities to travel and landed him his first job taking photos for Utmost.
For the owners, the LA store opening, is a celebration of not only the Utmost Richmond store and their tight knit group of employees, but Richmond as whole.
Before opening an official store in LA, Utmost hosted a pop-up shop on Melrose Avenue, one of the most well-know fashion districts in the city.
The temporary store allowed Utmost to showcase their designs in California and establish themselves as part of the region’s well developed skateboarding and streetwear culture.
“The LA store is full of potential and opportunities as far as the industry, marketing, and things of the nature go,” Edwards said.
Utmost also exhibited their store at Agenda Show, a diverse and creative fashion trade show that took place in Las Vegas in February. The Utmost pop-up shop on Melrose was not only very successful, but gave their owners insight on what it would be like to open a store in LA.
Edwards and Hart said they are excited about opening their LA store and hope to open more locations throughout the United States and potentially overseas. They continue to show gratitude towards Richmond, which gave them room to explore and expand their brand before traveling to the West coast.
The owners are working on an evolution of the Richmond shop as the city’s skateboard and street-clothes industry continues to grow. Since the very first Utmost location they have a network of very loyal customers, including Willis Lamb who started an Instagram Archive page for Utmost, where he “showcases the history of Utmost, including facts and history of items.”
“I am just really excited,” Lam said. “it’s been a long time coming.”
Hart said he hopes to see more VCU students in the Richmond shop and is hopeful the LA grand-opening will lead to Utmost receiving more traction in-store and online.
Utmost carries skateboard brands ranging from LA to London and back to Richmond. They tend to sell out quickly on fresh designs which are released Saturday in store and online at 12 p.m. EST. Skateboards are usually around $50.00.
“It’s just clean, all the stuff they put out is just clean and timeless,” said VCU student Niles Harrell. “All of their products are good quality, you just can’t go wrong with it.”
You can now check out Utmost Co. at 111 West 7th St. Los Angeles CA, or at the Richmond location at 115 West Broad St.
Keyris Manzanares, Contributing Writer