Wonderland.

CONVERSE × PATTA × DEVIATION

Ahead of its release, Wonderland learns how it came to be.

The worlds of Patta and Deviation – the Dutch streetwear and sneaker store-cum-label and the iconic London club night, respectively – have been colliding for as long as either party can remember. “Put it this way,” offers Radio 1 DJ and the latter’s principle player Benji B, “in my early trips to Amsterdam I used to stay on Edson’s couch. Edson is, Gee can explain it, but he owns the brand and is one of the bosses at Patta, the boss, maybe.” There’re giggles and a semi-sarcastic “co-owner” clarification from Gee (“I was looking for a reaction,” jokes Benji), and it’s obvious the scene is bona fide.

We’re in an unfurnished space with views of the O2 and Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” playing overhead; down the corridor are doors labelled “Liam Hodges” and “Craig Green”, and surrounding us are house plants brought in especially for the occasion. Behind the trio (Deviation’s Jude joins us on the orange velvet sofa set-up) a single rail boasts the outcome of the group’s latest project and the reason we’re all here: a new collaboration in partnership with Converse, set to drop this week.

“A balance of contrasts” according to the press release that’ll arrive after our conversation, the collection, much like those responsible, champions street style and club culture, marrying the two for a uniform that deals in contemporary aesthetics. Comprised of seven pieces, it features a tee, hoodie, chinos and trench coat, as well as three footwear styles, amongst them the Chuck ’70, here marking the shoe’s debut interpretation by a brand other than Converse. Yet to arrive IRL – beyond said rail – of the apparel the trench has already been earmarked by the group as a firm favourite: “I really love it,” confirms Gee.

Each with a genuine appreciation for not only the other but perhaps more significantly Converse – misreading the memo, Benji arrives with an overnight bag containing half a dozen pairs – Wonderland sat down with the trio to find out how exactly your new favourite orange shoes came about.

Your first pair of Converse. What did they look like and when did you get them?

Jude: That’s a great question. I could start with saying that for me, it was the Converse Weapon, because of the references – I’m an old BMXer, so that’s where I come from for Converse. From hip hop and skate culture, that was my introduction.

Gee: I think first Converse Chucks, or Weapons as well, because I used to play basketball, and they were affordable. And my parents were like “no, no, no, yes” and they were still good looking, so that was the connection with those shoes, that’s the first memory.

Benji: I saw some photos of me as a kid the other day at my mum’s and I was wearing Chuck Taylor High’s, purple ones, no memory of that whatsoever, but I think the Chuck Taylor… When I was a kid I used to live in Chucks and I think, as Gee said, they’re affordable for parents, but also I think the cool thing about Converse, specifically Chucks, is that they’ve sort of been in your life from the beginning, so it’s hard to pinpoint where you get your first pair – you’re just aware of them being a part of life.

And how many pairs do you own today? You’ve brought a closet’s worth Benji…

B: Half.

Apologies.

J: Oh my god…

G: Be honest, come on.

J: Put it this way, I’ve got a big container and my girlfriend, every couple of weeks, is like “new pair?!” so, currently, on my shoe rack I’d say about 12. Yeah, I think I buy a pair every month. Mostly ’70s.

G: I have… Maybe 20 or something? But then again it could also be a little bit more. The good thing about that shoe is, it’s such an easy shoe to wear – it fits with almost everything, whole styles, whole music genres.

B: At least 20, I only know that because I had a clear out recently. If you said “what is the shoe you have most of” I probably wouldn’t have thought of that, but it actually turned out that the Converse section of the cupboard is a bit overflowing. Obviously you have special ones like the Margiela’s or the United Arrows collaboration – or the Patta ones that I’ve got from before – but then you’ve got your every day rotation pairs…

So how did this collaboration come about?

G: Me and Benji have been talking about doing something together for quite a while really, but it never came to fruition because we all have busy schedules. I think this year they’ve existed 10 years and Benji told me that, and I just took it upon myself to be like “yo, listen, maybe we can work together with Converse” and Benji was super down with it so, yeah we went back and forth with ideas, and when we heard that we could do it me and Vince [Patta’s Creative Director] got together with Jude, and Jude gave most of the conceptual ideas. So it’s a lot of conversations between friends. Jude came with the inspirations, and me and Vince kind of projected our idea of how we think Jude and Benji wear their clothes, and took it into a Patta world. And so, you see with the trench coat, it’s very simple but [with] more of a street edge then a gentlemen’s edge, same with the pleated pants, it’s more Latino-ish vibe, more Cholo than gentleman like, which is all street inspired but then, we want it to transcend to all people that are interested in garms and music.

B: Yeah 100%. I’ve always gone to Patta events and I’ve always repped the brand, I’ve always loved what they’ve been doing in Amsterdam, and you know, you could say that Deviation – what we’ve been doing – and Patta have been growing in their own ways concurrently. So it’s really a pleasure for us to be able to collab officially on clothing. Because I mean, I’ve always worn Patta since, how long Gee? Over 10 years?

G: Quite a while yeah, 10, 15 years. And I guess you know us from day one.

B: So yeah, and Jude, Jude’s my sartorial guru. I look up to him on a style level, and, joking aside, he has actually worked in clothing since I’ve known him, in various ways, so the collaboration’s just perfect because obviously Patta have a really strong investment in music and culture and that’s been a huge part of their DNA, certainly since I’ve been playing with them they always have a Patta sound system, and I think there’s a lot of mutual respect between the brands.


For sure. How collaborative was the process?

J: Firstly, what I’m going to say is that when we were talking about the general idea, me and Gee on Whatsapp, the first thing he said to me is “Jude, I’ve got to tell you now, usually when Patta do collabs, we don’t allow nobody to advise us on where it’s going,” that was the disclaimer from the get go.

B: I don’t think he understands what collab means…

J: So I slowly drip fed him ideas. I was like “Gee, have you seen this?” and then we started talking about a particular brand, about how we really respect it, and how we’re at a certain age where we have our feet in both world’s right? Because, that’s the crazy thing – we’ve all met through clothing, music, that sort of culture, and as you slowly grow up, you don’t want to be doing too much, but you still want to look refined. And I’m from that world of slightly high end luxury, but I still have my foot in streetwear, on the weekend you see me wearing certain things, you be like “damn, you’re wearing that” but it’s a fact. So first thing we were talking about was fabrics and ideas, and then the conversation went dead for a couple of days. And then, it was just before midnight, I pinged him, “have you seen this fabric?” and he was like “nah” and I sent it to him and he was like “ah I know that fabric,” so I was like “how about this idea because it’s what we’re about” it’s high it’s low, yeah, it marries [the two] it’s perfect. He went quiet for about half an hour, then he was like “yeah, that’s the one” and that was the conversation done. Before I knew it those guys had rolled out the whole idea, him and Vince move really quickly – they didn’t even entertain other fabrics, that was it done.

G: Actually, he started with dripping the ideas but he had super big involvement. Even for our standards, it was like “yo man, you can do this shit on the regular” because he came with an idea for the sweater, I showed it to Vince and he was immediately like “yo man it’s dope, it’s something else” and like, I can honestly say 70% of the basic skeleton of the ideas of the collaboration came from him.

Gee, you’ve worked with Converse before right? How did this project differ from previous efforts?
 
G: This is different from a lot of other collaborations we do, since it’s normally from us to another brand, maybe there’s another involvement, but now we have Deviation, which is also a very important cultural partner to us – they have a club night that’s been running for 10 years in a city like London, which is an amazing thing in itself, that you can keep the people that go there, the credibility. So finally we could make something three dimensional in all our interests; it’s just an amazing opportunity and something that we’re very proud of.

B: One thing that’s really cool about it is how, so many of our reference points are exactly the same and a lot of our interests, as Gee just said, we don’t even need to discuss because we’re just at a point, both in music and clothing and culture, there we share so many of the same reference points that we have a similar approach to the way we dress, we have a similar approach to the way that we select and play music, and you can see this in the work that’s come out.

Totally. So in terms of the footwear styles championed here, why focus on the Chuck ’70 and One Star?

J: You know, the Chuck is just iconic and I rejoiced when Converse put of the ‘70s because I had deadstock ‘70s made in the USA, so when that came out, I was like “hallelujah” – I think that day, when it got released, all of my work colleagues left and went on lunch at the same time; we shut the shop, everyone bought two pairs, and for me it’s just, like these guys have said, from when you’ve grown up you’ve always known the trainer, it’s always been there. It’s natural, it’s a staple. It’s crazy you can just wear it with a suit, and The Ramones wore it, Basquiat wore it, it’s one of those shoes. So back to that question, the ’70s, it was just natural, and the One Star, yet again from that element of skate culture – such a lovely clean silhouette – it just makes sense.

G: Like its chunkier counterpart. The One Star, I think it works out well. It’s a slightly different look, but it works in our world. And then you have the One Star CC which is like a little mix update, which we put in there to put something new out, try something else. The One Star CC is very outspoken, maybe not literally what we would wear, the easiest the quickest, still it’s always good and also very much Deviation, to not always go the route that’s the easiest path to walk. That’s what we do a lot as well at Patta.

J: You’ve got to have a curveball in there, definitely.

B: I mean when we started the night, we on purpose did it on a Wednesday which is the most difficult night of the week, and we on purpose did it somewhere where, at the time, there was no footfall, so there was no way that people were going to just walk up and find it. And we also decided to do it in a place that wasn’t a club, and decided actually, it doesn’t have a sound system so we’re going to bring our own. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve never chosen the easy route, but what that means in terms of how people engage with something is that they have to make an effort to get somewhere, and the people that are in the club aren’t there by accident, they’re there because they’ve decided to make a trip and they’ve decided to go there, and it’s exactly the same thing in terms of Deviation applying that same approach to clothing, but with also an eye on the classics. Like what you were saying, it’s impossible for these products to ever be whack, do you know what I mean?

There’s certain staples in certain industries, not just clothing, but think if you go to a club there’s going to be Technics turntables, there’s going to be Pioneer CDJs, there’s certain things in all places that are industry standard, or the standard. And yeah, there might be times when the Chuck or One Star is super in vogue and there might be times where it’s not, but it’s never ever going to be out. It’s super classic, to me anyway.

Converse x Patta x Deviation launches Thursday 21 December; get it here.

Videography
Aidan Zamiri
Words
Zoe Whitfield
CONVERSE × PATTA × DEVIATION

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