Brownsberg Suriname, Family First and Karl-Kani

Guillaume Schmidt

Guillaume " Gee " Schmidt is the co-founder of Patta, one of the best known brands in the Dutch streetwear scene. In 2003 together with his business partner and friend Edson Sabajo, Gee started to purchase footwear which were not even available on the Dutch market. Both men were known personalities in the Dutch hip hop scene. Gee as a Host/MC and Edson as a respected DJ.  The quest for well-known, less known but nevertheless original footwear brings them through international routes to what Patta is now; A trendsetting seller of sneakers and clothing. The name Patta is now its own brand.

Tell us something about your personal background. Form birth to Patta.
I was born in Suriname in a village named Brownsweg. I have only vague memories of that time. At the age of three we moved to the Netherlands. Until I was nineteen I lived in Den Bosch. I moved to Amsterdam to study Communication, but I was much more concerned with my first love: Hip Hop music. I quit my study and started working  at a hip hop clothing and record store Fat Beats, a household name in the Dutch hip hop scene. I ran into Edson who was also employed here. After several years of Fat Beats I worked as a product manager for Hip Hop artists with record label Sony. At one point I lost the connection with some of the new artists I had to manage. In 2003 I started working on the idea for Patta. In 2004 we began selling from our own store. Now our online store is also part of our business model.

What are you most passionate about in life ?
My family is first, then my business. But Patta is the platform from which I can express my passions: traveling , designing clothes, meet people. I can work with an artist one day and record some music the other.  There is no limit, everything is organic. That's what I love about what I do.

In what ways do your personal values shape your work/business ?
I am a person who is consistent, I do not change my mind on a daily base. I have a clear vision of what I want to achieve. Honesty is also important to me. A lot of my personality is reflected in Patta. I like people who make choices and use their original signature. The choices you make say a lot about who you are as a person and designer. Stay true to yourself .

Can you tell us -which designers you find inspiring ?
There are so many icons that you can choose from. Brands like Polo Ralph Lauren and for example Patagonia in terms of philosophy. If we go back even further Karl Kane has always been an icon for me that was connected to the hip-hop culture. The colors he used were daring. In the beginning, no one believed that it was even possible to translate the hip-hop culture into this clothing and design level. He has proved the opposite. Finally, I think Martin Margiela is pure inspiration. Someone who looks at clothing from a different angle and presents it on the catwalk in his own way. I can only respect that.

Particular places you think were most special to travel to and why?
First of all Suriname, my roots. New York is really my second place to be. There I can reflect my love for music. Tokyo is the epitome of perfection and fulfillment for me. London is pure energy . All metropolises and cultures who can relate to your deepest interests. I always get enough inspiration out of my traveling to those places.

Digital technology and globalization ensure That the creative sector is subject to strong changes. What do you think thesis changes will look like ?
Let’s be real, all change is good . I remember when I worked at Sony and Napster launched the online music service. Download music for free, it made sure the entire industry was shooked up. Nowadays music streaming is what we know. All technology offers new possibilities. Same in fashion. We have to make sure how we want to use it in our advance.

The fashion fest is about creating awareness. What does awareness means to you ? Everything I do I do from my pride and passion. This way of living exceeds colors and culture barriers. I want to work with people who want to excel . I’ts important to know where you come from, to know your culture and at the same time embrace diversity. That’s what awareness means to me.

Tell us about your experience in the fashion industry.
I learned that passion and perseverance is important. Only then you are able to reach your goals. It's a small world. The people I work with are the people whom I trust , the rest can be inspiring , but I trust my inner circle the most. I am not blind to my surroundings, but I feel stronger in this industry if I know at who I can count upon.

Has your attitude towards fashion, art and design changed as you've aged ? How so ?
My attitude towards it all has always been the subject of change. From my opinion it’s pure logic and natural. Everything is changeable. I now know a lot more than I did before. For example, I look differently at photography than when I first started Patta . You learn constantly by looking in a different way to design and different forms of art. That’s just a matter of time and interest. It’s all about understanding and appreciation.

Tell us about Monday till Friday work journey
Everyday is different. My travelling gives me the opportunity to make it happen. Besides not only the footwear, but also the clothing line is important to us. So my agenda is full booked. We consist of a core group of six people and a total of 15 people who work hard at a daily base and we are still growing. Patta is a brand and represents a lifestyle and a culture. I 'm just glad that I can continue along this path every single day.