💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.
If you’re a Philadelphia sneakerhead, you were probably confused when you saw it on the timeline. Some account called “Atmos” was wishing you a good morning, starting off the greeting like an old friend, with the Philly-specific word “ard.”
It’s not a glitch in the matrix — you just used to follow Ubiq.
On Nov. 6, the renowned Philadelphia sneaker boutique merged with Japanese brand Atmos to create Atmos USA. Founded inside the Gallery Mall nearly two decades ago, Ubiq was considered one of the greatest sneaker shops in the country.
And now, Ubiq as we knew it is no longer.
Instead, the Philly-born streetwear pioneer has become the conduit to helping expand the Atmos brand in America.
Ubiq founder John Lee, who started working at his father-in-law’s Philly-based sneaker store Samsun, appears all in on the deal. “While we’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish as Ubiq, we’re even more excited for what the future holds bringing the energy and excitement of Atmos Japan here,” he said in a press release. (For the record: Ubiq was styled in all caps as UBIQ, and Atmos uses all lowercase.)
There is some limited-edition RIP merch to commemorate the transition, and the new Atmos USA dropped their own “Three Tides Tattoo” Puma Suede sneaker design to mark the new chapter.
This isn’t the first collab between Lee and Hommyo Hidefumi, who founded Atmos in 2000, two years after Ubiq started up. Before either of those, the pair launched Chapter World to sell rare vintage sneakers and clothing in Japan.
What exactly is Atmos?
Atmos is a streetwear and sneaker brand based in Tokyo. The shop gives boutique vibes, but it has 38 stores across four countries in Asia — Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia — and one location in NYC.
Like Ubiq, Atmos is known for its unique collaborations with legacy sportswear brands like Nike, Asics, and Jordan.
So, is Ubiq going away?
By that name, yes. Ubiq’s two brick-and-mortar locations (one in Philly and one in D.C.) will now bear the Atmos name. They’ll keep the same retail team, according to the release about the merger, and will gain a sister shop in Atmos’ NYC storefront.
“It was not an acquisition but more of a partnership,” said spokesperson Marissa Le in an email.
In its 18 year lifespan, Ubiq stamped its name among the greatest sneaker boutiques in the country. Founder Lee became interested in the sneaker business in the early 90s when he was working at father-in-law’s Samsun. (That shop still stands on Chestnut Street and also has a South Street outpost.)
Lee opened his first Ubiq location inside the Gallery in 2002.
“When we first opened, people were literally running to our store because they didn’t know what to make of it,” Lee told Complex earlier this year, when the mag named Ubiq one of the 10 stores that helped define modern U.S. streetwear. “They’d never seen a sneaker store like that before.”
The same year, Lee also launched KicksUSA. The more mainstream shop opened its first location in Rising Sun Plaza in Philadelphia and proliferated throughout the city and New Jersey before being acquired by European sneaker brand Snipes last year.
Ubiq moved to its current storefront on 15th and Walnut in 2004, and in 2016 launched its only out-of-Philly location in Washington D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. Those brick-and-mortar locations will house the new Atmos USA shops.
Where can I find Atmos fka Ubiq online?
The Ubiqlife.com website now redirects to the brand new atmosusa.com.
Worth noting, there’s no mention of the Ubiq brand or presence on the Atmos USA site or any of the new social media accounts. RIP.
Can I still get stuff like the Sixers fan Jordans?
Ubiq was well-known for its Philly-focused drops like the exclusive “Phila Unite” Jordan 1, its FILAdelphia sneaker created with Fila, and of course that cheesesteak-inspired Diadora jawn, called the “Wiz Wit.”
Locally meaningful collections will still be on tap for Atmos USA, according to spokesperson Marissa Le: “We have a lot of exciting plans for local stories and engaging those strong communities.