Stüssy is the father of many brands. You could take it for granted, because the familiar script and high-end homages are ubiquitous globally. But try to find a streetwear line who can’t be connected with the west coast titans in one way or another and you’re liable to struggle. Go dig if you don’t believe us. We’ll wait.
It’s the boundary blurring that set the standards — like blending surfwear with Comme Des Garçons decades before dual-label DSM releases would make that union official. They drafted in Juergen Teller and Terry Richardson to shoot clothes we could actually afford. The chapter concept, meant that Stüssy evolved with individual terrains. Over 35 years there have been highs and lows — it’s been both underground and unavoidable during its lifespan — but popularity beyond its birthplace (particularly in Japan) has been integral to its survival.
Approximately 5,567 miles from Laguna Beach, Amsterdam built its own foundations in street culture — often the stop-off for legends on tour (for obvious reasons), its small size compared to other key cities meant that it was never immortalised on cotton like some other Stüssy approved locations, but it fostered a spirit that echoes those brand values. Patta was founded in 2004, and its founding members are students of the Stüssy approach.
Patta co-founder Guillaume “Gee” Schmidt saw the brand as one of the first credible lines to be readily available in the Dutch capital, “Stüssy just seemed to be always around back in the day ’till the present day. It used to be hard to come by, then at a certain point it had a way broader distribution — in whatever shape or form it has always been there and may be even more important now. It was always relevant and to my liking.”
While Amsterdam wasn’t an official chapter city per se, local face Clyde Semmoh — a famed skater as well as a stylist — had a tight connection. “Clyde was the first Stüssy rep in the Netherlands — he has always been a stylish character in the city, so Clyde and Stüssy were the perfect match. He was closest to the tribe.”
With their sound system reflecting their musical connection, plus a focus on real-world experiences, it was only a matter of time before the well-networked Patta team and Stüssy crossed paths to talk shop. Their first collaboration was a set of three T-shirts for the store’s fifth anniversary.
Over time, Patta’s partnership developed into conversations about something more fully-fledged. Gee is proud to be part of the modern tribe, but feels that official would be the wrong word to use here, “There is not a commission who decides who is in or who is not — I guess it’s an organic group of people who love, support and work with the brand. The demographic of these people is very interesting ‘cos it’s all different ages. It’s people with different trades and skill sets. That goes for collaborators but also for consumers who love and understand Stüssy.”
Fraser Avey, Stussy’s global brand director, sees the meeting of minds as a logical progression, “The relationship started in a real place, Patta was a Stüssy retailer first. From there we began throwing events together, parties for our friends, producing special T-shirts and it’s been growing ever since. We have a lot of respect for Gee, Edson and the whole Patta team.”
Now, creating a brand buzz is a case of deploying digital tools effectively. But personality can be crucial when it comes to promotion. “I had an interesting discussion about this with my man Pretty Viejo,” says Gee, “In this day and age it’s important to have a face, but more important a spirit to your brand. In my opinion, every brand that takes itself seriously in the field we move in should have a firm backbone in a different array of interests.”
“There are several parallel between the brands, from the shared spirit of independence to the places we both take inspiration from; music, art, classic sportswear and our peers– to what’s going on street level around the world,” says Fraser, “It’s more than clothing for both Patta and Stüssy. It’s about the culture of our brands, and in many ways our perspectives align, so it feels natural.”
In early 2014, the first full Patta x Stüssy capsule collection debuted with a pop-up store in New York. The second collection drops this month, with a broader range of designs that even extends to gloves. Gee and the team have worked hard since that release to expand on their united vision, “We took our time with this collection. Getting it together as far as ideas doesn’t take up too much time, but getting it right definitely does. It’s pretty deep.”
The escalating number of offerings reflects the relationship. Fraser appreciates what each entity can bring to the table, “As both brands evolved over the years, naturally we wanted to do something more in-depth and creative, challenging ourselves to do something with more substance than a T-shirt. Stüssy has always been about an international perspective, so when we connect with somebody like Patta, we can build together to create a unique perspective on sportswear with our combined input.”
Athletic basics meet allusions to acid addled rave hedonism. Patched Chipie jeans — a one time must-have in the Netherlands — get a sly nod with the denim offering. A recent surge in affection for tracksuit cosiness — a once-maligned Euro inner-city uniform — elevated a look Patta have been pushing since day one. “It has always been around and it will always be around in that way — it’s not a regular fashion fad,” insists Gee when the conversation turns to the tracksuit, “The thought behind this collection is basically an ode to Stüssy and the brand’s mantras. The smiley is a reference to both entities’ deep roots in music, the world map is for the spirit of like-minded people worldwide that form the tribe, and the overall look is outdoor mixed with the street aesthetic Patta is known for.”
When pressed to break down what qualifies for a partnership, Fraser stresses the importance of avoiding releases for the sake of it, “We always try to take collaborations seriously, for what the product is and what they say about our direction and brand overall. Sometimes we do more, sometimes we do less, but it’s important not to force anything. When we’re working together with Patta, we both have the conviction to make sure the product is good and make sure it’s an honest statement to us, united and as individual brands.”
With so many collaborations out there, and given the sheer breadth of Stüssy’s output over three and a half decades, does Gee find completely new ideas to be an endangered species? “No idea’s original. There’s nothing new under the sun — it’s never what you do, but how it’s done.” He chuckles when he’s quizzed on whether consumers can see through a collaboration that isn’t rooted in respect, “Never, EVER, underestimate the customer. If they don’t see through it at first, maybe they will later. But in the end, it’s about whether they like it or not — let’s not be too pretentious about it all!”
The Stussy x Patta collection will be available first at Stussy New York and Patta Amsterdam on Saturday, December 12, followed by a global release at Stussy Chapter Stores, stussy.com, and Patta retailers on Friday, December 18.
Words by Gary Warnett
Photography by Violette Esmeralda
Art Direction by Ace Dia
Styling by Bonne Reijn