If you’re into sneakers in the Netherlands, it goes without saying you’ll have passed through the doors of Patta. Everyone else in the world has at least heard of it. In the decade this legendary Amsterdam boutique has been in business it’s earned its stripes as the de facto destination for fresh footwear and apparel in Holland, styling the Dutch youth with a cocktail of international brands and its own highly-regarded collaborations with the biggest names in the business. But what’s behind the polish of its trendy storefront? We visited the home and office of co-owner Guillaume “Gee” Schmidt to see how his personal tastes cross over from public to private life.
The first thing that strikes you arriving at Gee’s Amsterdam apartment is that this is definitely not Patta. In fact, parts of it don’t even feel like Amsterdam. Gee’s family originally came from Surinam and traces of this South American heritage are littered throughout his living space. In place of the cold, design-conscious furniture you might expect, you’ll find rough-carved wood and tropical greenery, traditional-patterned cushions and brightly-painted mobiles. But look a little closer and you’ll see this sits alongside items from the Western side of his life: artwork by celebrated Dutch artist (and friend) Parra, various works of contemporary industrial lighting, and a large print of Richard Avedon’s famous Dovima with Elephants hanging on one wall. It’s a huge juxtaposition of cultures, with Gee at the center, keeping one foot in each world.
The other thing you’ll probably notice is the diverse array of reading material on offer. Books on Nile Rogers or the history of business in hip hop sit by design anthologies, fiction novels and a retrospective of the American conceptual artist Mike Kelley. And visual material? A mixture of gangster movies and a Dragonball Z box set, of course. All adding to the diverse repertoire of influences that make up Gee’s take on the world, which is then transferred to Patta’s clothing and footwear.
Moving on to the workplace, we see more of the streetwear influences you might expect from the proprietor of one of Amsterdam’s finest underground boutiques. Polaroids of parties and past events are scattered on the shelves among old B-boy cassette mixtapes, stickers, badges and other mementoes, while shoeboxes and other items of apparel fight over the remaining space. On the walls there is more Avedon, but this time he shares the space with Ghostface Killa and Lou Reed, along with more personal items like the “Allen Voor Een Holland” badge – produced as part of a super sought after collaboration between Nike and Gee’s store, on a Destroyer Jacket in the run up to the European football championships in 2012.
Within all this sits the double desk of Gee and his business partners Edson and Tim, who together make all the major decisions for their store while gazing down at the crowds wandering the Red Light District below. When the summer’s in full swing and the windows are open, they even treat them to a little blast from their B&O PLAY BeoPlay A8, which sits on the desk between them. Both Gee and Edson met while working in the music industry, and music is still a huge part of their lives, so a quality soundsystem is essential for their working environment. It might not look like much, but the A8 is more than enough to fill a room this size with crystal clear audio – the only drawback is it won’t play their old B-Boy cassette tapes!
As the nerve center for the future of Patta, this office is where the team spend the majority of their time when they’re not out sourcing fresh product. Perhaps that’s why it has the feel of a truly “lived in” space, rather than some sparse, soulless office designed purely to wow the outside world. It’s that pragmatic emphasis that seems to carry over into all parts of Gee’s life away from the store. Instead of obsessing over a home or office that looks like a showroom, he’s made both spaces comfortable, personal and down-to-earth – all of which leaves more time to focus his obsession on what he really cares about: finding, sourcing, and collaborating on the freshest new garb for his store.
Origin: Brokopondo, Surinam
Current Location: Amsterdam, Holland
Guillaume Schmidt – known locally as “Gee” – is the 36-year-old co-owner and proprietor of Patta, a streetwear boutique in the heart of Amsterdam, alongside brothers Edson and Tim Sabajo. The shop was started in 2004 purely as a destination for rare sneakers, but in 2012 merged with the more high-end Precinct 5 (also run by Gee & co.) and relocated to a new site at the edge of Amsterdam’s bustling Red Light District. Although Precinct 5 has since closed, it made a name for itself stocking a mixture of clothing and footwear, ranging from the world’s best-known brands, to its own apparel, to collaborative projects with the likes of Nike, ASICS, Converse and many more.
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