Celebrating its roots in street culture and the newly launched Breakpoint silhouette, Converse CONS has teamed up with Amsterdam mainstay Patta to reinvent the vintage silhouette turned contemporary skate favorite. Inspired by the city’s dynamic culture and its free-spirited atmosphere, the sneaker pays homage to the brand’s origins via its choice in motif and colorway. We speak with one of Patta’s integral members Masta Lee – who shares with us the concept behind the collaboration and his thoughts on the city’s growing creative community. Aside from design, Lee also lets us in on some destinations off the tourist map, and a few recommendations for skate and art enthusiasts alike. Check out the Patta x Converse CONS Breakpoint above and the interview below.
“Everybody in our crew has his or her own taste, style, interests and opinions. We throw all that together and try to stir up a Patta potion that represents us best.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up at the retailer?
My name is Lee, and I was born and raised in Amsterdam. I have a background in skateboarding, music culture and all things related. Amsterdam is a small city, so it’s fairly easy to venture out and cross paths with like-minded people. Through DJing I met Patta co-founder Edson in the early ‘90s. When he and Gee opened Patta I came in to strengthen the team, and we have been building ever since.
What would you say are the most inspirational elements of working for this brand?
The team and the city. Everybody in our crew has his or her own taste, style, interests and opinions. We throw all that together and try to stir up a Patta potion that represents us best.
How does your brand align with the values of the city and the people who call it home?
As mentioned before, the city inspires us a whole lot, and in return we try to inspire the city and its people too. Patta is a retailer, but also a platform for local talent, music, art, events and what have you.
What are some of your favorite parts of the city?
I grew up in an area called De Pijp, which is just south of the city center. The neighborhood has slowly been yuppified throughout the years, but it’s still one of my favorites. I also like the Zuidas, a relatively new and rapidly developing business district. At night it’s totally deserted, so I often skate over there, cruise around, listen to new music, clear my mind.
“The city is relatively small, but the vibe is big.”
What are some of the places you would suggest to check out if you’re visiting?
Well Patta of course, hah. Also our old neighbor Ben G Skateboard Shop. There are actually plenty of nice stores across the city. The city center and Jordan area are interesting to wander around for shopping and food. For the culturally-minded there’s Foam Photography Museum, Eye Film Museum, and the Museum Quarter for the well-known classics. Nightlife is great, there are many great clubs for any music genre to check out.
What makes the city unlike any other in the world?
The unruffled, free-spirited people and its atmosphere. The city is relatively small, but the vibe is big. Geographically it’s a great hub for traveling and meeting people from all over the world.
What has changed about the city over the years?
There is a lot more creativity to be found in various fields, more specialized retail, and there’s definitely a lot more tourism going on. Many weekend warriors from neighboring countries.
How different is the experience that travel guides suggest versus what the locals do?
Like in any other city I’m sure there are the conventional recommendations, the in-the-know places, and some overlap in between. It’s really up to the visitor to explore or not.
“It is very important to always rep the surroundings that shaped you, first and foremost.”
How do the people around you influence your work and vice versa?
We have a fairly big team, each with their own ideas and input. We take all that and try to create the best work possible.
What’s the creative community like?
Stronger than ever. People seem more driven and confident to start and create something they are passionate about. The world is also more “open source” than ever before. It’s nice to see people sharing knowledge and support and contribute back to the local community.
Arguably you’ve done an immense amount to put both your brand and your city on the map and earned international recognition. How important is it to rep your city?
I think it is very important to always rep the surroundings that shaped you, first and foremost. And while paying homage, not get stuck in a local state of mind. Journey out, travel, explore, bring those experiences home and use it as a foundation.
As one of the city’s most important cultural purveyors, you were given the opportunity to work with Converse CONS. What was particularly compelling about working with them?
Converse and CONS have always been close to our hearts, even long before Patta. Throughout the years it has always been very pleasant and easy times working with the brand. It’s both a partnership as well as a friendship, so it feels very natural to continue putting in work and create nice things together.
“Journey out, travel, explore, bring those experiences home and use it as a foundation.”
What sort of concept or mark did you want to create with your collaborative sneaker?
The Breakpoint is a very clean-looking shoe. We aimed to preserve the simplicity of the original by applying subtle materials and colors, with a touch of tech-inspired detailing. The goal was to keep it wearable on the daily without it being boring.
You’re one of four exclusive retailers that were chosen for the project. What do you see as the similarities across the board and what do you admire about each respective party?
Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to see in the flesh what our colleagues have cooked up. But each one of them has a proven track record in terms of collaborations, so I trust that they have created something strong that complements the other pairs and make it a nice and interesting pack.
If you ever left your city, what would you miss the most?