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Patta: The essence of Amsterdam's streetwear innovation

Uncovering what fuels Patta on the eve of its 15th anniversary

  • Harrison Williams
  • 2 October 2019

With a powerful connection to cultural realms outside of fashion, Patta has proven to be one of the most innovative streetwear brands in the industry. Its passion for art, sport and music, shines through its unique approach to design, as the collections deliver an effortless style not commonly found. Whether this is revealed through Patta's annual Dekmantel capsule or its creative football jerseys and highly sought after bag collection, the brand is relentlessly pushing itself to explore new avenues. The evolution of Patta is a marvel within the fashion world.

Founded by Edson Sabajo and Guillaume ‘Gee’ Schmidt in 2004, Patta plays a major role in guiding today's streetwear culture. What was initially a storefront in the heart of Amsterdam has since grown into a worldwide trendsetter fusing the essence of art and music with a clean aesthetic. It's been tapped to bring its distinct stylistic approach to major collaborations with brands like Nike, Jordan, Asics and more, which has allowed Patta to transcend its home turf and become known as one of the more reliable fashion brand's in the industry. Now on the heels of its 15 year anniversary, Mixmag gets an inside look at what fuels Patta today.

Ahead of his appearance at BUDX Amsterdam, we spoke with Virgil Chocolaad of Patta to get an inside look at the vision behind Amsterdam's most beloved streetwear brand.

Read this next: Patta and Dekmantel team up for 2019 capsule

Patta is known as an essential Amsterdam streetwear brand. Is there a vision you aim to convey with your unique style?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: Our brand, Patta, is a brand that likes to bring out quality products, for the people by the people. We like to pay attention to quality because we look at every piece, basically how we would love to see it on ourselves. From there on, it’s not only about the piece, but I think what probably makes it unique is the identity and the image that we try to bring while we make it.

What makes it even more unique is that we try to reach out to every community that is close to us by making these pieces. So it’s not just a piece of cotton, but it has a certain meaning, it has a certain value. It brings a bit of culture. It brings a bit of a lifestyle. It’s not just a design with a certain type or font on it, but it stands for something. I think that’s probably the most unique aspect of the style we create because everything we do, we try to make sure that we bring across a certain message. I think probably the most important message that we always try to bring is that Patta has love for all. We have love in what we do, and I think that translates into every piece that we make.

Read this next: Patta and Mephisto team up for third collaboration

What were some of the obstacles the brand had to overcome when Patta was first starting?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: It’s really hard to say which ones were the first. But, I think every brand and every company that starts has certain obstacles. What actually helped for us, is that we were making a brand and reaching out to a community that we were literally living in. We were inside a community of music. We were inside a community of art. We were inside a community of sport. So, the people that we were making stuff for — that was our own friends, but also they became our customers. We were doing stuff out of love.

The obstacles are in the beginning. We didn’t have an account and we were selling shoes. So, we had to fly overseas to get shoes to a certain point where you cannot buy certain stuff that you can find in a showroom. You have to really go and search and find the gems in Japan, in New York, or somewhere else in Asia or somewhere else in Europe. So, I think one of the obstacles was probably not having a consistency of stock. I think that’s one of the obstacles we had to overcome in the beginning.

Also, we didn’t have any investors that put in money for our company, so we had to do everything by ourselves. That means you have to work hard and pay for everything. All costs are on you which doesn’t always make it easy to do stuff that you have in mind or could help you speed up certain processes. You have to sell stuff in order for you to make money and put it in the savings account and save up to do another production, to do another collection, etc etc. I think that’s also probably one of the obstacles you run into when you start doing clothing, and you’re doing everything by yourself.

Of course, everything costs money and you learn along the way. But, when you want to make clothes, it’s a process. When you do everything by yourself, it’s a different process instead of a big investor giving you money and paying for most of the stuff.

Read this next: Clarks Originals and Patta rework the iconic Desert Trek shoe

What does Patta represent to the city of Amsterdam?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: I think what our brand represents to the city of Amsterdam is that, of course, we are in all kinds of ways, Amsterdam. We are multicultural. We are involved with our people. We are involved with sports. We are involved with art. We are involved with education. We are involved for the next generation. We are involved with also trying to bring out the best quality for the people who really have love for streetwear, who really have love for garments, who really have love for beautiful stuff. I think that probably what we represent for the city of Amsterdam is not only that we live and die Amsterdam from the heart, but that we always and always have love for everyone, even if you’re not from Amsterdam.

I also think that we represent — I don’t want to say a sort of a group — but, I think we represent an identity, an image that a lot of people see themselves in or want to be associated with. That’s an identity and an image that’s true to itself — has love for everybody and has love and passion for what they do. And by hard work, you will achieve anything. And probably, if you say, what is Patta to Amsterdam? I think Patta is Amsterdam, and Amsterdam is Patta.

How are fashion and music connected, and why is this connection so strong in Amsterdam?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: Well of course, fashion and music are connected because this goes back all the way to when television was black and white. Of course, when you’re an artist, you try to dress in a certain way that you stand out. You stand for something. You behave in a certain way. You have a certain identity, and people associate with that.

It goes back to the hip hop ages where also our culture comes from. We are really affiliated with hip hop. In that day, it was really important what kind of sneakers you wore, what kind of outfit you had on because if you were one of the dopest guys on the block, you would get that respect. I think nowadays, what you see what’s happening in fashion is everyone wants to create a certain identity or a certain image by the way they dress. Music is really heavily involved in fashion because fashion influenced music and music influenced fashion again. Certain artists, certain rap artists — they dress a certain way which influence designers to create a style that certain people brought to the streets. And as you can see now, how heavily streetwear is involved — it’s because the music industry has been carrying streetwear to that next level. It’s become so big that fashion had to follow.

Read this next: Patta and Umbro have teamed up on a new football jersey capsule

I think why that connection is so strong in Amsterdam is because, in Amsterdam, music has become a real big part of the scene as well. You see that a lot of Dutch artists started to become real famous. But also, Amsterdam is a city where a lot of international artists come as well. And we are also really really involved with fashion — as you can see what’s happening on the streets, how people dress. Of course, a lot of tourists come here. But, if you look at the people from Amsterdam, they also look up to certain artists, look up to certain brands, and you have some brands here that are really doing well because they are from Amsterdam. They have a certain knowledge or a certain vision or a certain taste and all of them are affiliated with music as well. Other brands are affiliated with artists, are affiliated with producers, singers, rappers, and I think the one cannot live without the other.

Can you describe the music scene in Amsterdam right now, and what sounds and clubs are popular?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: Well the music scene in Amsterdam right now, if you ask me right now, is a scene where there’s one particular sound that’s really dominant, and everything that’s credible and not mainstream has a certain niche. I think there’s like, three big sounds. One is kinda slightly dominant, more dominant than the other ones that are really popular right now in the Amsterdam scene. I think the first one of course is Dutch rap. Dutch rap is a certain music sound that is a kind of bubbling sound most of the rappers use because that’s the music you hear a lot in the clubs. Another sound is techno; it’s really becoming bigger and bigger. And then, you have everything around that. The house scene is still really a sound that’s heavily involved in Amsterdam because house music is really big in Holland. But, techno has gained a lot and a lot of space in the market — just to say it like that. They’ve been doing a lot of festivals. They’ve been doing a lot of clubs, and you see a lot of DJs who used to be r'n'b and hip hop DJs are now playing techno or deep house. So, you can see that has a lot of effect on the club scene.

Read this next: New Balance and Patta unveil their "Runs in the Family" lookbook

How is the crowd reacting to the club scene?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: Well, it depends on which kind of parties you go to. If you go to a commercial mainstream r’n’b and hip hop party, most of the people are on their phones or not really actually paying attention to what’s happening in the DJ booth. But, if you’re going to a techno, deep house or house party, everybody’s dancing and everybody’s waiting for the next drop. But what’s happening in the clubs — it’s come to a point where everybody’s been jumping on that same bandwagon and everybody’s been playing the same music. DJs are playing the same music. Clubs have programming six nights a week with the same music, so everybody’s actually kind of getting to a point where everybody’s listening to the same stuff. That’s basically what’s happening in most of the clubs. And then there’s certain small parties which are still trying to bring that credible sound. They’re still trying to bring real rap, real hip hop and real r’n’b to certain consumers, certain target groups that still appreciate that music. Whilst, back in the day, it was a bit more important to keep on bringing new music because that was the whole idea of being a DJ — bringing new music to the people, bringing new music to the radio stations. So, you can actually educate while you were playing your favorite sound. When you found a new track in a record store, you were like really eager to play that stuff. Or, when you go out to a club, you’d be like ‘what’s this new track he’s playing? That’s dope.’ Then, you go on the internet, or then you go to the record store, or then you go and find out who the artist is and dig up some information and be like ‘oh, that’s dope.’

But, time’s are different now. You see that Dutch rap has become really really big, and that’s basically what you mainly hear in the club scene right now besides from the techno house scene.

What are some of your goals?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: Some of our goals are to keep on making a more beautiful collection of clothing. Make even more dope and beautiful collabs in any kind of product we haven’t worked on. But probably also want to see how other cultures are, other continents, to expand our vision, expand our identity and dip into different cultures and get to a point where Patta is into global — I wouldn’t say domination. But, you can see it everywhere, you can feel it everywhere and you could be affiliated with it everywhere — in parties, in art, in sports, in education, and of course, in clothing.

What’s next for Patta? Are there any cool projects you are working on?

Patta’s Virgil Chocolaad: Our pop-up in New York, just took place last weekend. We released a lot of dope stuff. We’re really excited to be in the US, to be able to have a pop-up over there and to be able to show a different culture — what we do, what we work for. We’re trying to let people see and let people know what Patta stands for.

Another cool project that we’re going to work on in the future is working more closely with schools and doing projects with schools to help out students, to guide them through certain courses and trying to help as much as we can. I think those are the upcoming projects we’re working on. Of course, a lot of other stuff — a lot of other dope collabs coming and a lot of other dope projects in mentioned topics, as in sports, art, fashion, music, events and community-driven stuff.

Find out more about Patta here

Harrison Williams is Mixmag's US Editor, follow him on Twitter

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