Persistence, positivity and a family orientated mind-set are the building blocks that projected Patta into the brand it is today. With their flagship London store now up and running in Soho, we sit back with Guillaume Smidcht to explore the cult Dutch streetwear brand.
Tell me about your role in Patta?
My name is Guillaume Schmidt, they call me ‘Gee’. I’m one of the co-owners and founders of Patta in Amsterdam. Patta was founded in 2004 so we’ve existed for 12 years now. I mostly do marketing, art and creative direction. We aren’t a huge team, the core is about six people but we’re probably 15 in total, all based in Amsterdam.
How did it all start?
It kind of started as a pure sneaker store; we did a lot of parallel imports. We bought sneakers in the U.S [and] shipped them to Holland so we had different styles to what other people had. That’s basically what our store foundation is built on – just having stuff that other stores didn’t have. We went to New York and bought a lot of stuff over there – went to Brooklyn, went to the Bronx, went to Harlem – we went to wherever we had to go to buy those sneakers and we also did a lot of stuff in the city itself. I used to work at a record shop called Fat Beats in Amsterdam but there was a Fat Beats in New York, there’s one in Los Angeles and one in Tokyo. From that we already had a lot of contacts with people in other cities worldwide, and through those contacts we got to know other people who were interested in selling sneakers, having boutiques and that type of thing.
Would you say that because of this, your brand is quite heavily influenced by music?
Our backbone is in music, so I would say that ultimately when you have a store or brand I guess it’s always more than just a window where you can buy product. It’s always a little bit more than that. Our base was in hip hop music and from that a lot of different interests sparked. I was doing a lot of MCing and organising parties. Edson, my business partner, is also a DJ and a lot of the guys that worked at our store were young DJs and guys that were involved in the music scene.
You recently opened a flagship store in London’s Soho. Why did you decide that London was the next stop for Patta?
We have a lot of customers that come from the UK and for some strange reason whatever we do, whatever we make – whether it’s the clothing or the style or the vibe the brand transcends – works really well with what people like over here. We love the energy of this city, the energy of a lot of the people who work here have, it’s just very vibrant. London was the perfect choice for us.
When you say you like the energy of people, here is that mainly musicians?
It’s different. It goes from musicians to creatives to people who work in stores. It goes all over.
Is there anyone in London in particular who you’ve formed a good relationship who has helped out with the new opening in London?
Well we’re working with Damo, who had a consultancy type agency when we met him which was called Second to None. It was him, Sam and Bakar. Those guys helped us during our first pop up shop here in London and Damo is the store manager for the new store. That’s basically how we work with people. A lot of the people who work with us in our store or for our brand, we stay working with and people hardly ever leave from our company. It’s a family driven company and we work the same with people that we know outside our borders. Whether they work for Patta or not, we try to build relationships with people. From those relationships a lot of fruitful stuff comes.
How different is the London store from the Amsterdam store?
We’re still making the same type of product but it’s just that the demographic of the person that will be buying it will be different. It’s a little bit more developed [in the UK]. This is a bigger city, there are more people so we have more people to offer our stuff to. Also how people are used to fashion and street culture and that type of thing is quite developed in this city, and that is very much to our advantage.
The store is in Soho, what are your reasons behind being close to the other streetwear brands?
For us it’s very important to be around our peers because we want to be where the heat is. They are not here by accident. It’s just a hub where you need to be if you want to be a recognisable brand. Obviously you can go to East London. There are good stores there as well but we just want to be in the centre and be the centre of attention.