Edson and Tim Sabajo Talk About Patta, Sneaker Culture and Their London Pop-Up
Dutch imprint Patta recently extended its street culture aesthetics to London via a four-day pop-up store. The pop-up saw the creatives behind the label involved in hands-on operations, with Edson behind the till, Gee on stock duty, and Tim on the shop floor assisting customers. This brought back the old days when a pop-up was defined by the genuine shopping experience and dynamic team that fronts the shop. The shop showcased a number of in-house exclusives, in addition to a bevy of graphic-heavy T-shirts, button-ups and hoodies. We got a chance to sit down with brothers and founders Edson and Tim for a chat about the growth of Patta from its early days as a sneaker store and whether the internet has changed the game for the better.
So how do you think the London pop-up went?
Tim: It went well you know, I think a bit like we expected it to be. We have a lot of customers via the internet from the UK, so we expected a little line and people would be anxious for the new collection. In all, it went great and we’re just happy to be out here.
What do you guys think of London compared to Amsterdam?
Edson: There’s more people in London which means fashion trends fluctuate a lot more. But we’ve been in London so many times, I’m like 40 and my brother is 38 so we’ve been coming here since we were 16. We’ve seen the whole scene grow and know a lot of people from a long time ago. It’s almost home so it’s not a big deal to cross the sea and come over here.
You guys developed the clothing side of the brand over the past few years, is that the main focus now at Patta?
Tim: We started with sneakers of course because that’s what was missing at the time, but it’s always been sneakers and clothing from the start. We started with sneakers and now we’re adapting with the growth of the business. The first three to four years was a learning process and then slowly we developed T-shirts, shirts, jeans, socks and our own sneaker collaborations. I wouldn’t say the focus is just that but it’s a big part of us.
Edson: When you start out you only know a little, but there is so much to learn. I see Patta as a platform. We have a running team, radio shows, events, and a lot of projects that we are involved in.
So you just learned it all as you went along?
Tim: Yeah, my brother Edson is the only guy who knew anything about retail. As for fashion design, that was something completely new. When we started the store it was just for sneakers and we did it out of love, buying what we liked.
Edson: It was just a hobby.
Tim: In the beginning, only the sneaker community would come to us because they were on par with what we liked. But you can’t run a business like that and we learned that the hard way. We now know that sometimes it’s not about what we like but what sells. As long as we can sell it and it fits our brand then we’ll stand behind it.
Do you guys miss the old days of running into sneaker stores and looking for deadstock?
Edson: We still do that once in a while because it’s in our blood – you have to remember that first and foremost we are fans. We love sneakers and hip-hop. Every time we’re in a city, we’ll still go and check out the local sneaker stores. Whether it be to buy for the store or for ourselves.
Tim: We don’t travel for it anymore. We use to plan trips and go on sneaker hunts. Now we travel a lot for Patta. We might be in New York and find time to look for a dope sneaker store.
Edson: That’s what it was, we used to go to a city get a car and get busy.
Have you guys ever had anyone come into Patta trying to buy sneakers the same way you guys did back in the days to resell?
Tim: It happens. You can see it in their eyes, plus they come in and buy all the hype shoes in three different sizes and we block that. It’s not them that messed up the market don’t get me wrong, the online reseller is a hustler and I respect the hustler. It’s the stupid guys who buys the shoe for over retail prices that messes up the game. If somebody pays three to five thousand for their shoes then what can you do but sell them the shoes? I would do that too.
How do you guys feel like the internet changed things because you came before that?
Tim: It’s good and bad, because of the internet we are worldwide known so we won’t ever knock the internet. We can’t cry because there is someone out there on eBay making their money, it’s all in the game. If somebody wants to buy our Air Max collaboration for a lot more from an online reseller, that’s fine because in return that just shows the buyer’s appreciation for Patta.
Edson: If I was in their position I would do the same but I’m on the other side of the table, but I am cool with it. It’s actually flattering to see the amount of money people will put down for your brand.
What determines a Patta collaboration?
Tim: We have to protect our brand at all times. There’s a lot of brands out there but they may not come on par with our core aesthetics. For example, we may collaborate with adidas but not with K-Swiss because they never had that street culture appeal from the start. Even though K-Swiss could be regarded as a trendy label now, they didn’t play a role in influencing Patta from the seminal days, hence we don’t share the same core aesthetics.
Edson: There is a thin line we walk with the credibility of the brand. If anyone asks me whether they can stock Patta in their store, we question their brand heritage and aesthetics. If I wanted to I could get a UK distributor and everyone in the UK could have Patta. I may make £2 million but the next year my brand will be dead.
You guys plan on doing any more pop-up stores in the near future?
Edson: I can’t tell you that. But it’s our 10th year anniversary next year and we’re going to start from January through to December. A lot of big things are going to happen; we got collaborations, pop-ups, special releases and more lined up. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.