Breaks has been going for over two years now and we’ve never interviewed anyone twice, but we were willing to make an exception for our family at Dutch brand and sneaker store Patta, who have grown exponentially since we first spoke to them over two years ago.
The reason we wanted to talk to them again is because of their collaboration with Carhartt, ‘Wild At Hartt’, which released last week to feverous reception. The collection is as solid as you’d expect with Patta taking a decidedly subdued approach to some of Carhartt’s more traditional silhouettes, echoing their Hip Hop influence while staying true to the values of both brands.
We sat down with Patta co-founder Gee to talk about the collab, what they’ve achieved since we last spoke and what it takes to work on a successful collaboration – something the guys have been prolific at recently.
Can you introduce yourself and your role at Patta?
My name name is Guillaume Schmidt, but they call me Gee. I’m a co-founder of Patta and I do a lot of the marketing plus I work closely with Vincent, our creative director a lot. I’m just part of the team.
Last time we spoke we were in Amsterdam and you were on the cusp of opening the new store, how much has changed since then?
Since we last spoke it was an exciting period for us as we didn’t really know how the new store and location would work and now we’ve been there over two years. I’m really happy to say that it worked like a charm and we’re really happy with the location, the neighbourhood and the shop just works. I’m really happy.
What’s different about the second incarnation from the first?
The first incarnation was a split store, it was Patta and another store underneath called Ben – G, our brothers. They’re a skate store in Amsterdam. So in the original store, next to Patta, we also sold a lot of other brands like Stussy and a lot of other smaller brands. In the new store the only other apparel brand apart from Patta that we sell is Rockwell. We’re way more focused on our own product – thats actually our future now.
I was actually going to talk to you about that later, I remember you saying in our first interview that once the original store closed it became apparent to you that your own apparel and the Patta brand itself was main focus for you guys. I was going to ask if that is still the case?
Yes, that is still the focus you know? Sneakers are very important to what Patta is, we’ll always sell sneakers, but now we’ve slowly but surely developed into being more than a store and more of a brand. I think thats the focus for us for the future and for our expansion.
A decade is a long time but I read in a previous interview that to you it feels like you’re just getting started? With that in mind what are some of the stand out moments from the last 10 years that in your mind have put Patta where it is?
I don’t know you know, when I talk about this type of thing and talk about 10 years and why I say it feels like a start is because for us the thing thats really important is consistency. I want people to be able to count on Patta to come with a specific look and quality and a specific way of doing things that is always at a specific standard. You can only count consistency when you count it over time, so thats why 10 years in my opinion isn’t that long.
If someone was to come to you now, wanting to start their own business and said “Gee, I need some advice”, whats the one piece of advice you’d give them that you’ve learnt over the last 10 years?
Financial structure – very important. Have a very good team around you, people you can count on and people who have heart for the company. Other than that, have a broad vision and don’t think small.
What was it about Carhartt that attracted you to working with them?
Carhartt has always been a brand that I loved, from buying it in New York as a workwear product, to what it is now in Europe, the WIP product, is really appealing to me as it’s really good quality stuff, basic, and very affordable. It’s very very easy for people to get and I really like that. I like that it’s a broad brand that a lot of people can get that has a really high quality standard.
How did this whole set up work? Who approached who?
I know Wilfried Atzert form Carhartt and Mohamed Radji who used to work for Carharrt and they were doing an agency back then. I think? I’m not sure. Anyway, we had a mutual friend called Edgar and through him I met the two of them and even back then we talked about how I really loved Carhartt and how I really wanted to do stuff but I guess they weren’t in position to green light it at that time and Patta wasn’t at the level yet where it was interesting for them to collaborate with.
Fast forward to 2014 and my colleague, Max, an Italian guy, he knows Federica from Carhartt and Max explained to her that we were really interested in working together and between the two of them they worked out the best way to get this whole thing started.
Often with collabs you have access to processes and materials with other brands that you yourself don’t have – is there anything with this collab that allowed you to make or design something you couldn’t usually?
If you look at the collection you can see that we stayed close to the core of the brand. You can see the items we’ve picked, the Chore Jacket, Active Jacket, Double Knee Pant, those are the things from Carhartt I really like, I didn’t want to mess with those things too much.
So our approach was that we just take these items and we just flip it and give it a little bit of a Patta attitude. We didn’t want to scream too much, just worked with the title ‘Wild at Hartt’, which is actually the only graphic that we used, and normally we’re really graphic orientated.
I was going to say, did you find it hard to scale it back in terms of graphics? As it’s quite a departure from normal.
For us those types of things are not hard at all because we just do what we feel. We do what feels right and we’re not afraid, you know? When people first saw the collection there were a few reactions from people online saying “Oh well, they didn’t really do anything blah blah”, but thats not what it’s about! They should dig in, I don’t mind if people don’t like it but you should find out why you do specific things. It doesn’t need all over prints and those types of things, it is what it is.
Why aren’t there any t-shirts in this collection? As usually when you have a capsule collection there are the more expensive pieces that are more covetable, but there’s also one or two entry level pieces.
It was a conscious decision, for me it was just that you can buy into the project with just buying a t-shirt but then it would take the focus away from what it’s really about. For us its about the whole look, the vest, the beanie, those types of things. The t-shirt for us is a medium we use all the time and as we do have a lot of graphic language already there was no reason for us to do a t-shirt. The entry level piece is the beanie and the hoody in that way.
What’s your favourite piece from the collection?
The Double Knee pants.
What is it about them that you like so much?
I just like the aesthetic, they’re hard as rock, dope ass shit. Seeing Dr Dre rocking the all black Chore Jacket, all workwear, thats the type of aesthetic that I see where I wear this.
So there’s a real 90s Hip Hop feel to it?
If you want you can wear it really hip hop, thats my association when I think about it, but I think the way we made it we flipped it so you can wear it in any situation. We obviously love Hip Hop but I guess Patta has broader interests than that.
With the double knee pant I liked the idea of having rigid denim then flip it with the black pads. It’s close and we could have done the brown pant with the black pads but that we just too much like the OG stuff and would have made the collection too matching. This is another flip on the other items you so can wear it nice.
Why was the decision made to use the 12oz cotton that the original Carhartt workwear used, rather than the 9oz that Carhartt WIP use as standard? Especially considering it is a WIP product?
It’s an aesthetic thing, I just like it better. I like the Carhartt stuff to be thick.
Thats because when you were in NYC buying it you were buying the American stuff?
Yes, exactly. Thats my association with it so I canted to stick to that. I like the stiffness where you can take them off and almost stand them up on their own [laughs]. Also the creasing and the way it gets old is just the best, thats the ill shit.
You do a lot of collabs but how much creative freedom are you afforded on projects like this?
I have to be honest, with Carhartt there was no restrictions. We just explained what we wanted and they gave us no restrictions. I guess what was good for them too is that we stayed close to the core aesthetic of the brand so in that way it was just a walk in the park. We explained the idea and we explained the details we wanted to have on it and we went back and forth a couple of times and it was just bless. There was not stress or nothing.
Have there been any projects in the past where you haven’t had that freedom?
There’s always projects in the past where you just have to just keep going back and forth you know? Often times at a specific moment we say, you know what, the balance isn’t right anymore because obviously whats the use of doing a collaboration when they just want to make what they want to make. It has to be a back and forth situation.
Is that when you step away and say you don’t want a part of it anymore?
Yes of course, because in an ideal situation a brand sees the extra for you to work with them. Carhartt is such a big brand that they don’t necessarily need to work with Patta, unless they see for themselves that these guys can bring something to the table with something we wouldn’t normally do in that way. These guys can reach people that we normally don’t reach in that way and that is how a collaboration should be. If they wanted to make a perfect thing for themselves then they might as well make it themselves, they don’t need us to do that. Thats the way I look at it.
I’m really excited to see the film, you put the trailer out a few months ago, have you had any negative or positive feedback from that? As you’re all pretty gung-ho about who you are and what you do.
Well thats who we are you know? When the documentary comes out you’re going to see that. We curse, we struggle, we haggle, Patta is a super small company, it’s a family company and nothing comes easy. We always work really really hard and thats what you’re going see when you see the documentary and if people don’t like it, thats no problem. We’ll just keep it moving.
Whats next for you guys?
More consistency, expanding to other territories with our store and just keep building on our collection and keep doing these great collaborations. I hope this is the first collaboration in a really good series of collabs with Carhartt, that’d be dope.
Words & Gee Portrait by Tom Kirkby
Lookbook images curtesy of Patta & Carhartt WIP