What does it mean to make waves? For years, Patta has been using streetwear as a conduit for community and culture. When you think of the Dutch streetwear stalwart, yes, covetable sneakers and apparel come to mind, but think a little harder and you’ll see how product is usually the springboard for more nuanced, purpose-driven storytelling. This is also true for Patta’s latest collaboration with Nike on the Air Max 1 “Wave” and corresponding “The Wave” short film series, where the sneaker, really and truly, is just the ignition point. In "The Wave," filmmaker Mahaneela and creative director Steve McQueen take us into the colorful world of siblings Abdul and Carista, a journey that explores the influence Patta has had on its community and the wider industry.
Tomorrow, "Loud & Clear", the second live panel in their ongoing "The Wave" series, will air on Nike's SNKRS app (tune in, here). This time we’re talking music. Or to be more exact, Benji B is talking all about it with DJs Steven Julien and Carista, and Patta Soundsystem’s Vic Crezée. On the agenda is the “intersection of music and fashion;” a timely discussion considering the fashion industry has recently become more multidisciplinary as it’s discovered the marketing virtues of the music world. But culture will always be more powerful than marketing, and for Patta, there was never a time when music wasn’t part of the equation. In Patta’s own words: “If it wasn't for music, there would be no Patta, simple as that.”
Patta comes from a community of music – hip-hop to be precise. For starters, the brand’s founders Guillaume “Gee” Schmidt and Edson Sabajo, an MC and DJ respectively, were heavily involved in the local hip-hop scene and first met in Amsterdam’s iconic Fat Beats record store. It’s an origin story that has proved to be emblematic of the label’s relentless dedication to the culture. In the over 20 years since, music has remained a primary part of its ethos, culminating in the Patta Soundsystem – a wide ecosystem of Patta’s musical projects.
“Patta Soundsystem started out as a group of Patta extended family DJs that would come along on Patta-related trips abroad,” Vic Crezée, Patta’s musical director, explains. “Patta Soundsystem is an umbrella when it comes to music-related projects within Patta. Under this moniker we curate club nights, host festival stages, share our music interest through videos on our [Patta Soundsystem] IG, make product for DJs, collaborate with artists on garms and vinyl, have a partnership with music mag Wax Poetics and much more.” One of the first Patta Soundsystem projects – although it didn’t have that name yet – was a 2005 compilation mixtape featuring songs from Dutch rappers that were exclusively made for the shop. Unknowingly, Patta was laying the blueprint for what a lifestyle brand could be.
A clothing and sneaker cult brand, a record label, a blog, and a curational force in both the fashion and music industries; As Patta has evolved it has become larger than anyone saw coming. It’s a journey that recalls Nike’s own transformation from a strictly sportswear brand to a cultural colossus. And as with the Swoosh, where the essence has remained the same, Patta also continues to blaze the trail with music as one of its foremost frontiers. Recent musical collaborations include a drop with London jazz star Yussef Dayes in 2020, which comprised a tracksuit and 12-inch vinyl. And who can forget the time Griselda Records and Patta Soundsystem teamed up to release Conway the Machine and The Alchemist’s LULU EP and a corresponding capsule collection. “Most of the collaborative projects we do come from an organic relationship we already have with the artist or organization in question,” Crezée reveals. “[From] which artist to include, what beats, what artist goes on which beats and what we’re gonna make in terms of product and roll out. It’s always a collaborative effort from start to finish.”
But we can’t talk about Patta’s love affair with music without coming back to its home turf: Amsterdam. The cult of Patta can be best observed in the Dutch capital, where the brand’s iconic logo has almost become synonymous with the city itself. Here too, Patta has documented its cultural force through a series of bespoke music collaborations, from the annual Patta Soundsystem stage at Appelsap festival, to an extensive collaboration with Dekmantel festival, and continuously championing local talent like the SMIB collective. Music is a method of staying connected with the community that Patta comes from and cares so much about, not only in Amsterdam but to the wider culture. As Vic Crezée put it: “The overall ambition of Patta as a whole [is] what we mean to Amsterdam we want to mean to the world.”
As one of very few Black-owned streetwear brands, serving the culture is an authentic part of the Patta experience. While many fashion brands just recently became arbiters of hip-hop, the Amsterdam-hailed brand has been making waves since day one. Like Nike, by existing on the cultural crossroads, Patta has managed to establish something special and meaningful for the culture with integrity. Who else do you see harnessing a hyped sneaker collab into a moment for the culture? And while we’re on the subject, tune into the live panel on the Nike SNKRS app to dive deep into how Patta perfected the fashion x music formula and explore just how “The Wave” film captures this.
Tune in to the live panel talk "Loud & Clear" at 9 p.m. CEST on Nike SNKRS, here.