Parra and Patta. Patta and Parra. Over the past couple of years, the two brands have been mistaken for each more times than we can count. And while the labels do, indeed, have similarities to one another (including the fact that they both hail from Amsterdam), contrary to popular opinion, they’re just not the same.
If for whatever reason you’re not entirely convinced, Captain Creps is taking a second to check out the differences between Parra and Patta, explore their rich histories, and finally, put the debate to rest. So, let’s get to it!
Believe it or not, Parra isn’t the name of a company. In fact, it’s actually the nickname of critically-acclaimed artist, animator, and painter Pieter “Parra” Janssen. Known for his use of abstract imagery and saturated colours, his work is famous for its blobby, hand-drawn style and its cast of weird and wonderful characters. During his early years, Parra gained a decent cult following with whispers of his name echoing through the halls of underground art exhibitions. Now, his pieces are celebrated by some of the most-respected galleries in the world, including the very prestigious San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where he has a permanent collection.
In 2005, Parra announced that it was collaborating with Nike for the first time for the Parra x Nike Air Max 1 “Amsterdam” (also known as the Air AMS Max). Painted in a burgundy and blue colour scheme as a tribute to the European city’s Red Light District, it came with insoles that were a little NSFW. As well as this colourway, Parra also designed an orange and blue version that referenced the Albert Heijn supermarket chain. If you’re now scratching your head because you’ve never seen them before, well, that’s probably because only 24 examples were made worldwide, automatically making it one of the rarest sneakers of all-time.
Over the years, Parra would go on to work on 16 more trainers, not only with Nike, but also with other big names like Converse and Vans. In 2021, he designed the official skateboarding kits for the Tokyo Olympic Games. This was also accompanied by the legendary Parra x Nike SB Dunk Low “Abstract Art.” Featuring a crisp white leather base, it’s overlaid by panels and panels of Parra’s signature art. Apparently a “Friends & Family” pair also exists, but we have yet to see these in the wild.
That’s Parra, but what is Patta? Well, in 2004, Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Schmidt saw a gap in the market. While Amsterdam is now known as a cultural melting pot, around two decades ago, the shoes that were blowing up across the globe were never readily available in the Dutch capital. With this in mind, Sabajo and Schmidt started buying highly sought-after pairs and selling them through their own store, which they later named Patta. Overnight, sneakerheads from all over the country flocked to the space to admire styles and colourways that they had never seen before.
Fast forward almost 20 years, and not only does Patta sell and create its own wildly-popular apparel and accessories, its store has also become something of a creative hub, specialising in parties, pop-ups, and so much more. Over this span of time, the brand started establishing its own partnerships with the likes of adidas, New Balance, and of course, Nike.
Patta’s first collaboration with Nike took place in 2006 with the Patta x Nike Air Max 90 “Homegrown.” A clear nod to its home country’s recreational drug culture, the 4/20-friendly drop is one of the most hyped AM90s of all-time. Even to this day, their relationship continues to grow stronger and stronger. In fact, they actually teamed up earlier this season for the Patta x Nike Air Max Plus “FC Barcelona” that celebrated the Sean McDowell-designed silhouette’s big 25th birthday.
So, Parra is the nickname of artist, animator, and painter Pieter “Parra” Janssen, and Patta is the ground-breaking streetwear store founded by Edson Sabajo and Guillaume Schmidt. They’re both based out of Amsterdam, but their relationship actually runs so much deeper than that.
When Sabajo and Schmidt finally decided on a name for their new venture, Parra worked on a small batch of tees for them. He also went one step further and designed their now-iconic Patta logo, and while this was originally made exclusively for this T-shirt line, it eventually became their main marque.
In 2009, Parra and Patta would reunite for the Parra x Patta x ASICS GEL-Lyte Speed to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Amsterdam-based boutique. But it wasn’t until one year later when they pulled out the big guns for the Parra x Patta x Nike Air Max 1 “Cherrywood,” which is considered by countless sneakerheads to be the holiest of holy grails.
While many consider Parra and Patta to be competitors, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Since the start of the millenium, Janssen, Sabajo, and Schmidt have all been great friends who have helped and supported each other to get to where they are today.
Their love and respect runs deep. And it’s safe to say that if it weren’t for Parra and Patta, the trainer industry just wouldn’t be as colourful and vibrant as it is today.