As a small, independent brand, almost all our business is based on personal relationships. As true fans of sneaker culture, we are deeply invested in this retail game. We have strong connections to everyone we work with, and to introduce the people behind the tight circle of global Patta stockists, we decided to include our retail partners in our Get Familiar series. This time we're sitting down with Tiago from Before Anyone Else, read down below what the Porto based shop had to say.
How did Before Anyone Else start off?
BAE started out in 2016, 4 years ago, we opened our first store in Guimaraes, which is located a bit north of Porto, it’s a smaller city. The reason for starting out in Guimaraes is that most of the shoe- and textile factories are located there. Because of this, Guimaraes is home to a more knowledge-able and niche kind of customer, which we wanted to test because we were looking to do something different in terms of footwear and apparel. We stayed there for two years, the store did really well, then we decided to move to Porto. A major part of our (bigger) Porto store was a museum, since we are really sneaker driven we wanted to keep that in our DNA, while at the same time educating the customer.
The name, Before Anyone Else, what's the thought behind it?
We were getting stuff in our shop that no shop had at the time, at least in Portugal. So if you would visit our shop you would be able to buy stuff before anyone else.
What is your affiliation with Sneakers Love Portugal?
I’m the founder, SLP is a sneaker community that me and two other guys started in 2013. At first, we were messaging through Crooked Tongues, which was really international, so I didn’t know a lot of people that shared the same passion from Portugal. Then I knew a guy, a couple years later another guy, both from Portugal, we decided to start our own community. This escalated a bit so we threw a couple of community driven events, giving local brands and artists some exposure. All of this was not business driven, it was really community focusses. We’re still running the community and are currently on 10K members.
Do you feel that SLP is representative of the Portugese sneaker community?
Yes, definitely, we don’t cut anyone, everybody is welcome. You can see a cool shoe, which is not necessarily hype or whatever, and you can post it. We’re also there to educate people, teach them about the culture, let them know about other shops, collaborations etc.
How did you end up falling in love with sneakers?
Actually, the internet allowed me to discover that I was not on my own, before I thought that I was on my own loving sneakers. I found out about Crooked Tongues because I was looking for a specific pair of AF1’s, the West Indies.
How did you get involved with the founders of Before Anyone Else?
Back then I was already doing SLP and the founders of BAE were present at one of our events. Portugal is a relatively small country so if you’re really interested in something, you’ll end up meeting the right people. We were really excited about their plans to open up a shop, at that time it was a bit of a desert regarding good shops, so we were forced to buy our gear online up until then, the last good shop closed a couple years before that, it was called sneakers delight, ran by a Dutch guy. They invited me over to be a part of the project, the only demand I had was to have a sneaker museum at the shop.
Is there a specific reason for moving from Guimaraes to Porto?
For once, Guimaraes is only about half an hour away from Porto, secondly Lisbon is really expensive.
How would you say your affinity with retail came to be?
Most of all, I’m really passionate about the product, whether it be Shoes or apparel. I wanted to be a part of the whole experience from constructing the product to the customer, retail gives you the means to do this. I’m also a big fan of connecting with your customers, even though businesses move more and more to online.
What's the thought process behind your brand mix?
First of all, we have a commercial orientation, there needs to be perspective there. Luckily, we have the liberty to also choose some niche brands that represent who we are and what we stand for. We have two floors, with the bottom floor being more sneaker and streetwear oriented while the top floor is more fashion-oriented, attracting a different type of customer.
How did you end up finding out about Patta
Mostly, because of the Nike Air Max collaboration, back then there weren’t as many shops as now so the top tier shops were known to everyone that was really into sneakers.
What’s the reaction of the Portuguese customers to Patta?
Both the older and younger guys that have a classic streetwear mentality are really into it.
How did you guys end up carrying Patta?
I’ve been bugging Danny for a couple of seasons, when the shop opened up in Porto, it allowed us to carry more apparel. Then, immediately Patta was on our radar and after some time it happened. I got to know Tim and Lee at a New Balance event some time before so we kind of grew into it.
What kind of music is being played when someone enters the store?
You’re listening to hip-hop, international stuff mixed with local stuff. We don’t have a playlist or whatever, the store staff is in full-control.
Do you guys tend to work with local people?
We believe we have an obligation to work with local people, everytime we need graphic work done or need people for a certain event, we always try to connect with local talent, we want to connect with them.
How did covid affect your business and Portugal in general
I think it’s too early to tell what the real impact is, the immediate impact is that a lot of local businesses closed of Covid. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity to grow online, for us it allowed us to take a step back and rework our online business.
What was your first move after lockdown?
Before the state made a decision, we already closed up a week earlier, we didn’t want our people to get sick, it was a pre-emptive decision.
What are some of your favourite pieces from the current Patta collection?
Firstly, the Black Hockey Jersey, raising awareness today is more important than ever, and it was always a big part of Patta DNA. I had hoped this covid situation would kind of unite people but it seems like it didn't. Having to deal with racism, and xenofobia in 2021 is complete nonsense, so the reference to Malcom X is appropriate. Also, the Fish Feet Rayon since I'm a sucker for printed shirts and the abstract print really speaks to me. Lastly, the Brown Sugar Soul Tee, I'm a big fan of the Stone Roses so this one is a must have.
If you would have to give one piece of advice for young people trying to set up a brand or open up shop, what would it be?
Don’t try to be like anyone else, but at the same time keep an eye on the commercial side of the business, keep the balance.
Before Anyone Else is still supplying Portugal with the freshest gear, please pay their store a visit when travelling is deemed safe again, check out their Instagram or Website to stay in touch.