Patta's Guillaume 'Gee' Schmidt on the Brand's New Chapter in Nigeria

On Africa Day, we hear from Patta’s co-founder on why visiting Lagos, Nigeria, was “one of the biggest eye openers and turning points” in his life.

Fashion
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Patta marks its 20th anniversary this year, celebrating two decades of dominance in sneakers and streetwear both internationally and at home. Since its inception the brand has been unapologetically proud of its African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, with community being at the heart of what it stands for. As well as marking 20 years in business, 2024 is also the year Patta laid roots in Africa. Landing in Lagos, Nigeria, the brand opened its latest store on the continent earlier this year — a partnership between them and three close friends living locally. Patta’s West African chapter is more than a business expansion, it’s a “full circle moment” for co-founder Guillaume ‘Gee’ Schmidt. It’s about recognizing not only roots, but potential, too, with Gee admitting to Hypebeast that visiting Lagos was “one of the biggest eye openers and turning points in my life.”

“It means everything to us. As children of the diaspora, opening up in Naija is basically full circle for us.”

Since forming in 2004, Patta has led the way with collaborations and community initiatives that have helped to shape the blueprint for how independent streetwear brands can not only co-exist with the corporate juggernauts, but also for the role they play in helping to connect big brands with culture on a ground level. The Dutch brand’s latest collaboration with Nike Running is a recent example of this: launched during the London Marathon weekend, it tapped perfectly into the current run club revival that’s peppering the cultural zeitgeist in cities around the world. It’s a collection rooted in Patta’s own Patta Running Team, a community-centric offshoot of the brand started in 2010 by Patta co-founder, Edson Sabajo, with the mission not to promote “an extremely healthy lifestyle” but to champion “coming together as a group, dragging each other over the finish line, seeing different places together, and most importantly, having fun.”

“[Lagos was] one of the biggest eye openers and turning points in my life. The energy is unparalleled.”

Today, May 25, is Africa Day, a commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity that’s been celebrated annually since 1963. Hypebeast recently caught up with Patta’s Guillaume ‘Gee’ Schmidt for a quick Q+A about what the new Nigeria store means to the brand, how it came to be, and local movers and shakers in Lagos we should be keeping an eye on. Read our conversation below.

What does opening a store in Africa mean for Patta?

It means everything to us. As children of the diaspora, opening up in Naija is basically full circle for us.

Where does it rank on the brand’s story so far?

Aside from our inception in 2004 and our resurrection in 2012, this is our biggest moment. Actually, there is no particular order… we trust the process.

Why Lagos?

After our friends from Metallic and Skepta introduced us to Lagos through Homecoming, there was no turning back. One of the biggest eye openers and turning points in my life. The energy is unparalleled and some firm relationships were built from the start.

How long was this a dream before it became reality?

Didn’t take long after we went there. A couple of years.

What plans does Patta have to support the local Lagos community?

The fact that we opened a spot in a interesting territory is great, but the ‘how’ is even greater and only right. This store is a partnership with our good friends and partners Jomi, Nifemi and Lanre. They are part of the community, so they are supporting the community by supporting themselves and the people around them. The community conversation is a given and — because we see that we are part of it — we are more interested in culture at large, as that is what feeds and builds community.

Are you planning any Lagos exclusives?

For sure, starting with tees… pick that up!

Any artists or brands we should be looking out for from Nigeria and the wider continent?

Loads. WAFFLESNCREAM , Nmbello design studios, Kenneth Ize, Native Magazine, Stephen Tayo, Dafe Oboro. The list is endless.

What comes next for Team Patta?

We keeps building and creating. Learning by doing. Failing, getting up, and trusting the process.

Who’s got the best Jollof Rice?!

My man Omar would say Senegal… but maybe that’s in the eye of the beholder.

Patta Lagos is located at Trocadero Square, C & I Leasing Dr, Lekki Phase I, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.

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