This blog is rapidly looking like a Patta fansite, but I love talking to those guys about culture. Plus Gee is one of the select few whose book recommendations I trust 100%, and this site is also transforming into little more than a set of gushing paragraphs about the printed word. A book just dropped that documents Amsterdam’s street style through the long-running Appelsap festival. Continue reading TITANIUM SHELVES
(Note: I wrote this a year ago for my friends at Patta and Converse as part of a zine to coincide with a collaborative Chuck Taylor celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2014 — I think this might be a slightly rawer version.)
“How long have we known each other?” Gee — a Patta co-founder — is weaving in and out of traffic en route to Amsterdam’s west side while in deep conversation. A towering Surinamese-Dutchman on a bicycle with a backpacked Brit perched on the luggage carrier would be a comedy distraction in any city other than this one. Continue reading PATTA: DUTCH MASTERS
The majority of documentaries on sports footwear are a bland retread of past glories with the same talking heads telling exactly the same stories. The world doesn’t need some guy in weirdly laced shoes asking people who’ve been queuing for 16 hours, “What is a sneakerhead?”, any more than it needs another Imelda Marcos reference in the opening of an article on collectors and resell. Dull. The much-hyped exhibition in NYC right now looks a little middle-of-the-road too, even if the first part of the book offers a useful primer on the history of athletic shoes Still, there’s a few slept-on productions with some rare footage out there, like Sneakers, a 2004 Dutch production that features Patta brothers and true shoe Jedis Tim and Edson (back when Tim had dreads), some super-dated “cool hunting” (which seemed to fascinate people back then), and some chats with Steve Van Doren, Tinker Hatfield and Nobukazu Kishi from Boon. Like much on the topic from this period, it’s dated, but in a nice way — like over-designed Flash streetwear and shoe websites from the same time frame that don’t work on Wayback Machine. Submarine did a decent job on this 50-minute film, so salutes to whichever kind soul took the time to subtitle this.
I’ve looked up to Amsterdam’s Patta squad since they were putting out mixtapes featuring Non Phixion — their convergence of shoes, music and art, plus their admirable crew mentality has made them a movement (the existence of a Patta Talk group on Facebook, featuring almost 5,500 members is a testament to that. I have an ever-changing list of missions on my mind at any given time, but doing something, anything, with my friends at Patta has been a constant. We had discussions, but projects can vanish or switch repeatedly, so it never happened. Seeing as Lee and the squad have long been supporters of what I do, and I’m a fan, i wanted to put a tick by it. The 10th anniversary Converse project gave me the opportunity to write something more substantial than the 400 words a magazine would probably allow about their intentions, the role of hip-hop in Amsterdam and, most importantly, Edson’s steez, that eclipses any pitiful pocket square wearing, cancer stick posing Pitti tourists right now. It’s in the Today Was a Good Day ‘zine that Patta and Converse (it helps that the Chuck Taylor, which was the collaborative canvas for this project, is a personal favourite too) put out late last month alongside plenty of art and photography by the formidably talented Vincent van de Waal. I had a good couple of days working on this one — salutes to Team Patta.
Kickstarter culture, an anniversary celebration of no significant number for pretty much everything important, hunger for content and anyone coming of age during the 1990s getting their expendable income together means that things I’ve discussed here before are the subject of movies, documentaries, big books and exhibitions. It’s a great thing too. The current Larry Clark print sale at Simon Lee Gallery meant that I could grab a piece of the shoots that informed how I dressed back in the day but it was also an excuse to buy some smut too (which Instagram’s all-seeing eye snatched from my feed). Apparently there’s still a few good shots up for grabs in that wooden crate. I read about The Kids Film a few weeks back – Hamilton Harris‘s documentary on the making of the film and its aftermath (encouraged by the popularity of Caroline Rothstein’s Legends Never Die), with Clark helping as a producer and The Screen Feed ran an interview with Harris about the project last week that’s worth reading.
Soon, orgies of unofficial branding on tees will be fully played, but Boiler Room and Young Turks went in with this collection of logos akin to the late 1999 labels feature from The Face. That grid depicts plenty of Sports Direct favourites — once exotic and prized, but now licensed out for twenty two quid a pop. There’s a couple of ones that kept the flame burning in there too. If you caught the Budgie episode of Boiler Room’s Collections broadcasts then you’ll know that this 45 King episode is going to be heavy too.
Edson is the connoisseur’s connoisseur when it comes to music and clothes and he’s out to cause a baby boom with Luffie Duffie 3 — the last two instalments went in with the slow jams and this one is MOP inverted — smooth never rugged. That Parra cover art is serious too. This goes out on the 5th and you know the Patta squad will christen it the right way.
Patta is ten years old. That’s quite an achievement, because between 2004 and the present day, plenty of stores and brands have fallen by the wayside and the squad have proven that Amsterdam, like Paris, can do the hip-hop thing — from leather goose downs to two-finger jewelry — and maintain the culture’s sense of style without lapsing into herb territory. Edson, Lee, Gee, Tim, Danny, Malvin and the rest of the family are folks I look up to. Except when I see them I always look homeless by comparison, because their swagger is unholy, so I should keep it strictly digital to avoid them highlighting my lack of style. Just as their own brand started popping, Precinct 5 and Patta closed in 2012, but they promised a return and reopened. To do what they’ve done and not sell out (and I know all about selling out — it never ends well) is impressive and this year is going to be big. After the London pop-up, they took it to NYC this year. Setting it off with Stüssy and Pigalle, plus Italian-made running shoes (which sits perfectly with their worldview — they too once looked up to the guys with illicit dough and the obscure, expensive shoes). I believe that there’s a lot more coming too. Does anybody else remember the 2005 mixtape that called in some old Fat Beats affiliates? Shoe related (nearly) everything can eat a dick, but that Non Phixion freestyle over the Run beat that makes a lot of references to running shoes still works. Happy birthday Team Patta.
Watching the Drew Struzan documentary at the same time that I’m writing this, I was reminded of Mr. Charlie Morgan‘s compilation of shoes as they appeared on Struzan’s poster art. There’s Vs, Terra T/Cs, Reeboks, Airwalks and the Sk8-Hi in the mix. Drew knew shoes.
I’m slipping in life. I missed this video of Riff-Raff and Harmony Korine playing basketball over a month ago and I only just saw the Kickstarter page for the Dust & Grooves book. Both are significant additions to the internet.
Being involved in retail (though it’s not secret that my heart lies in marketing and communications), I know it’s ruthless — a world ruled by a handful of innovative spots and a ton of copycats who are perpetrating. I’m not sure whether rules regarding perpetrating and biting were overruled a few years ago but it seems to be the case. My brothers at Patta aka the Dutch Masters are the realest dudes in the business as well as longtime supporters of my crap and the recent temporary downtime for the store proves that goodwill and being legit doesn’t make you bulletproof. It’s rare to meet dudes who walk it like they talk it, but Edson, Lee, Tim and Gee and the rest of the team are those guys — definitely a rare breed.
While we wait for the physical store to return, this MC Theater video of ‘The Patta Story’ is anecdote central, even if some tales are lost in translation, taking it back to the Fat Beats and grey import era (and you know, in your heart of hearts, that grey import was the most interesting part of Euro trainer retail — now those electronic and real-world shelves are exactly the same, give or take a few release dates). They had Parra on some design duties, they made the Air Max their own (who else was going to notice the power of the mini forefoot swoosh?) and put out a mixtape with Non Phixion rapping about New Balance and Spot-bilt over the ‘Run’ instrumental. That’s deep. Even when it’s not open, it’s still my favourite store. After a friend mentioned an encounter with a buyer who hadn’t heard of Sal Barbier, I fear the industry is being assailed by corny “all the shoes but not a clue” type folks – it’s that snapback and AM1 goldrush, yo. But that’s transient nonsense and Patta is forever.
Here’s the obligatory “Look what arrived in the post!” addition to this post — salutes to my friends at Nike for these 2012 iterations of the Hyperdunk. As the worlds of shoe and gadgets clash, it makes these visually incredible with the Flywire strands (originally called Magwire, fact fans), but incredibly hard to wear for casual use. But having messed around with the shoes with the Nike+ Training system I’m keen to use them for lounge workout use with the iPhone and improve my hapless jump height to make myself less of a failure as a man. I saw this version in LA recently and this WLF GRY/FRBRRY-DYNMC BL seems to be some NRG spin on the WBF version that dropped recently with some fancy extra packaging. I like this shoe.
If you haven’t read Paul Gorman’s ‘The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion’ you should have done, because it’s the best book on music and fashion ever written and Gorman has dedicated a whole book to a living legend who was one of the subjects of that book — Tommy Roberts and pioneering his Mr Freedom (not to be mistaken for the Mister Freedom vintage empire, though I always assumed that Christophe Loiron and Tommy Roberts were inspired by William Klein’s film of the same name) store. I’m only a few pages into it, but the cover is proof that Jeremy Scott wasn’t the first to get playful with winged shoes and Roberts ran one of the first clothing brands to collaborate with Disney (in a curiously sexualized way) back in 1969. All with an interest in clothes and the culture of clobber should pick this one up. This and ‘Dream Suits: The Wonderful World of Nudie Cohn’ by Mairi MacKenzie are superior documents of the relationship between a musician and the clothes that define them.