WELCOME TO TEAM PATTA

The two guys in the photo are Edson Sabajo and Guillaume 'Gee' Schmidt, the owners of the company. They met in the nineties through their mutual love for music, and Hip-Hop in particular. Being both of Surinamese descent, Patta is the word for Shoe in the Surinamese language, Sranan Tongo (fun fact: in Suriname, the word 'Pata' is actually spelt with one 'T', to ensure the proper pronunciation though, they opted for the double 'T'). Due to the large population of Surinamese people in the Netherlands, the expression blended into the youth's vocabulary and became part of their slang. In 2004 they opened the doors to the Patta store on the first floor of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 142. At the time, most brands had split their catalogues by continent. This meant that America and Asia had different product lines than Europe did. Therefore, if you were to open a footwear store in a town like Amsterdam, you would have the same products as your competitors on the high traffic shopping street.

They didn't want that, they wanted to sell shoes that nobody had. The plan was simple: travel to other continents, hunt for hidden gems, buy in bulk and bring them back to the Netherlands. So they booked flights to New York, stayed with friends and mapped out which stores and streets they wanted to check. They would go to places like Fulton Street in Brooklyn, Jamaica Ave in Queens, or Fordham Road in the Bronx and go in, haggle, agree on a price, box it up and move on to the next shop. Not knowing anything about shipping accounts, the team would stuff shoeboxes into giant duffel bags and walk it through customs themselves. Or they used the US Postal Service and risked losing a box or two.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BRAND

The two guys in the photo are Edson Sabajo and Guillaume 'Gee' Schmidt, the owners of the company. They met in the nineties through their mutual love for music, and Hip-Hop in particular. Being both of Surinamese descent, Patta is the word for Shoe in the Surinamese language, Sranan Tongo (fun fact: in Suriname, the word 'Pata' is actually spelt with one 'T', to ensure the proper pronunciation though, they opted for the double 'T'). Due to the large population of Surinamese people in the Netherlands, the expression blended into the youth's vocabulary and became part of their slang. In 2004 they opened the doors to the Patta store on the first floor of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 142. At the time, most brands had split their catalogues by continent. This meant that America and Asia had different product lines than Europe did. Therefore, if you were to open a footwear store in a town like Amsterdam, you would have the same products as your competitors on the high traffic shopping street.

They didn't want that, they wanted to sell shoes that nobody had. The plan was simple: travel to other continents, hunt for hidden gems, buy in bulk and bring them back to the Netherlands. So they booked flights to New York, stayed with friends and mapped out which stores and streets they wanted to check. They would go to places like Fulton Street in Brooklyn, Jamaica Ave in Queens, or Fordham Road in the Bronx and go in, haggle, agree on a price, box it up and move on to the next shop. Not knowing anything about shipping accounts, the team would stuff shoeboxes into giant duffel bags and walk it through customs themselves. Or they used the US Postal Service and risked losing a box or two.

GEE & EDSON

When the store opened its doors, all of our friends and family came by to celebrate and make purchases. Through word-of-mouth, the name rapidly spread like wildfire. Sales were going fast, but this also meant that the stockroom was getting emptier and more buying trips would have to be planned. The long hard grind had only just started.

Looking back at his teens, Guillaume feels like his biggest challenge was to stay true to himself and keep himself standing in the face of adversity. As a black kid living in a primarily white town like Den Bosch in the 80s, the physical and cultural differences were an inescapable fact. He looked different, he ate differently and most important: he thought differently too. For that, he credits his family for passing down the mental fortitude to accept and stand up for those differences.

Born in Brownsweg, Suriname, his family moved to the Netherlands when Gee was two years old. His father, Humphrey, has always been culturally and socially active, working with refugees and protesting against social injustices. It is more common to do so now, but in the 80s and 90s, consistently speaking up against the use of blackface during each annual holiday season took courage and determination. Indifferent to being perceived as uppity or even worse, "ungrateful", father Schmidt made it a point to educate his children on the values of doing the right thing. And these are teachings that have stuck with his son over the years. His father is a soft-spoken, introverted man who thinks and deliberates before he speaks, and Gee was not much different.

Gee's family was also responsible for his obsession with music. His parents frequently played Reggae or Soul music at home, and during family functions, they would play R&B and at some point: Hip-Hop. It was like love at first sight. He loved the way it sounded, but also the way the artists dressed and how confident and powerful they seemed to look. As a youth, Gee started playing basketball, and he proved to be pretty good at it too. Several of his teammates loved Hip-Hop as well, and they were very conscious of their footwear choices on and off the court. So, both basketball and Hip-Hop played a massive part in the way Gee dressed. Because the same shoes that he saw his favourite player wear on the courts, he saw his favourite artist wear in a music video. 

As a means of further expressing himself, he started playing his favourite songs on pirate radio with a group of friends. And to keep the repertoire fresh, Gee would often travel to cities like Utrecht or Amsterdam to buy records. It was at one of these record stores he met Edson.

Edson grew up in the infamous Staatsliedenbuurt in Amsterdam West. At the time a breeding ground for the city's criminals, Edson was keeping himself on the straight and narrow through his love for playing football and fear of his mother's switch. She would teach him and his two younger siblings that being black meant having to work twice -if not three times- as hard as his white friends. Sometimes this meant waking up earlier and travelling further to go to school in a safer area, but this also resulted in self-reliance, a DIY mentality, and an understanding and familiarity with the city. A very talented football player, outgoing and affable, Edson was infatuated with Hip-Hop from an early age. And he would try to express that in any possible way, by rapping with his friends, doing graffiti, breakdancing, and trying to DJ at his friend's house. 

Something went wrong, please contact us!
Your cart
0