A third-generation Washingtonian with family in Southwest D.C. dating back over 100 years, Dominick Adams aka “Dom” is a true hometown hero. A humble giant with credits in the retail industry that most would boast about, he has helped create the fabric for modern streetwear trends in D.C. He came up as a General Manager at the local sneaker boutique Major in Georgetown and was a founding member of the H Street restaurant, retail, and cafe, Maketto. Now he’s returned to his home in S.W. to bring a new experience called Somewhere.
Who is Dom and how did you get here today?
Dom is a true Southwest kid. Attending Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and Jefferson Junior High School he had no choice but to learn the ways of the neighborhood. “Growing up in Southwest, you learn how to be displaced naturally,” said Dom. Southwest is the smallest quadrant of the city and home to many large Industrial areas which means limited space for extra-curricular activities and fewer friends to have your back when in trouble.
Growing up he began to notice that his cultural interest swayed differently than his comrades. He would find himself rocking to Mos Def and Wu-Tang while most of the kids in the neighborhood were waiting for the latest go-go tapes. While everyone was wearing local brands like Universal Madness and HOBO (Helping Our Brothers Out), he was wearing Mecca and Stussy. While creating his own trends, he still paid attention to the local streetwear scene. He recalls a time when Madness came out with an assortment of color keychains and all the kids had them, and New Balance 992 & 996 were the most wanted models. Some of these memories still influence him to this day.
While at college in Jersey, he would drive to New York City where he learned the tricks of the streetwear trade. He bought pizza for employees at sneaker shops and made cash chasing down celebrities for brand endorsements. (This is before the days of social media.) He moved back to D.C. and ended up with a stock gig at Major where he soon became General Manager. Working with the founders Duk-ki Yu and DJ Underdog he received a wealth of knowledge that would lead him to his next opportunity.
In November 2010 enters Will Sharp, creator of D.C. based brand Durkl. After bumping shoulders at trade shows and local venues, Will reached out to Dom to create the Durkl General Store. They found a location on H Street and began to build on the concept. More partners came in to add food and a cafe, and Maketto was created. As the director of retail, he brought brands to D.C. such as Cav Empt, Human Made, Hender Scheme, and Junya Watanabe, which had never been available locally. While Maketto had much success, Dom felt his work wasn’t getting the credit it deserved. He recalls a quote from the 2006 sci-fi/thriller “The Prestige”, “How does it feel to listen to the applause from under the stage?” After some personal issues added to his stress, he decided to leave. He felt there was more he could do to create spaces for the community he was from, Southwest.
Before his time at Maketto and before he had access to the pulse of streetwear fashion he noticed that developers were breaking ground in his neighborhood. The Southwest Waterfront and Navy Yard were being readied for a face-lift. He saw a location on First Street SE and made a promise to himself that he would have a store there someday. After almost 10 years he’s back with the help of his Durkl partner, Will Sharp, and a new addition, Steve Place, Founder of Corillian, a creative strategy firm for video games. He describes their partnership like a car, “Will is the engine, Steve is the mechanic, and Dom is driving.”
With help from the city government via affordable housing programs such as Inclusionary Zoning and many other resources, they were able to hire local practitioners to do the build-out of the store and really exemplify the goal of a truly local business. Dom stresses that using your resources and connecting the dots is invaluable.
What is Somewhere?
Somewhere is a place where 16 – 24-year-old trendsetters can discover brands they love but also enjoy the community of a coffee shop. You can find luxury Japanese streetwear brands such as TAKAHIROMIYASHITA TheSoloist. and Kapital, but still find mainline Dickes and Vans. Dom finds real joy when he sees people discover new brands that they love. Coffee at the shop is provided by local roaster Vigilante Coffee alongside pastries from Georgetown’s Baked & Wired. The retail team is comprised of a group of young creatives that Dom sees as the future of streetwear in D.C. Located at 1239 First St SE, Somewhere is fortunate to share space with F1RST, a luxury condominium with 450,000-square-foot of mixed-use communal space at the Capitol Riverfront. They plan on hosting larger brand experiences throughout the space and have bi-weekly programming expected to start in October. You can follow their moves on Instagram via @Somewhere.Official or on their website at Somewhereofficial.com.
What lessons/advice do you have for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs?
Hard work and dedication have been the keys to Dom’s upward mobility. He urges young people not to get psyched out by the lifestyles you see on social media. “Nobody has a bad day on Instagram” he proclaims. He preached learning every stage of business and not skipping steps. “Don’t be scared to start out sweeping floors or packing boxes, just know that progressive steps are the goal. You must learn all the rolls to have success.”
“I’m a big fan of people that are dedicated to a point of view”. He notices that many brands try to stick to the trends or go far left, but brands that have a mission are having the most success. “Being nimble enough to survive, but crazy enough to stick to your agenda”. He cites Rick Owens as a brand that embodies this idea.
He is also concerned with brand quality. “You can have the hottest pop-ups, cool designs, and great social presence but do you care about the longevity of your product?” He cites a few local brands that have stuck out to him like E.A.T., River Is Wild, Lil Bro, and Entrapreneur that have done a great job positioning themselves. D.C. streetwear icons like Unkle Scooty and Davin Gentry also come up as the trendsetters for the ‘cozy” movement and their work with Diet Starts Monday. Dom is big on giving people their flowers before it’s too late, a model we all can benefit from.
After 12-plus years in the game, Dom is at the frontier of his mission to make streetwear accessible. He looks forward to the future of the D.C. streetwear scene with retail stores sponsoring local sports teams and having more local brands emerge from the city. His mission is not over as he turns places some called nowhere into somewhere.