If the name German Nieves is familiar to you, it could be for having flawless music supervision in his video parts since back in 1997. He's also the guy behind Paterson, a brand we've been impressed by lately and wanted to know more about. Paterson just released its Spring / Summer line, so we hit up German to skate around the city, shoot some photos and talk about the brand.
So what is it that you guys do? Are you a skateboard company? A tennis company?
Not to get all technical, but Paterson just has to with the idea of being a sportsman. Skateboarding isn't a sport, but it can be sporty looking... it's a performance. Paterson adds some performance and style to menswear and skateboarding.
There's a similarity between skateboarding and tennis in the idea that they're both centered on the individual, they're both hard to get good at, and tennis has its own unique feeling, just like skating. I'm trying to put a heritage into this brand. I'd love for Paterson to cater to both tennis and skateboarding.
The combination of skateboarding and tennis is an unlikely one. Why bring this to the table?
Ever since I was a kid I've liked the look of tennis, but I never played until maybe 5 years ago. It's always conveyed this look to me that's straight to the point, classic and easy. Tennis is my inspiration behind the brand, I love the way tennis looks. There's something special about the way a tennis court looks at night when the lights are on it. It's super clean, it reminds me of the movie Tron.
I feel like people think that if you have skateboarding as a part of your brand that it cant be taken too seriously, and if your brand comes off as too mature, skaters won't take it seriously as a skate brand. There's a balancing act involved, we're going for quality, skateboarding, fashion, and tennis.
So we get the look, why choose the name Paterson?
Paterson is the city where I grew up in New Jersey. I sort of model the brand after Wilson, Spalding, or Louisville Slugger, brands like that. Something with real heritage behind it, you know? The idea is for it to be a brand that your children's children will grow up with. "Made For Play" is our tagline, which is along the lines of how brands like that present themselves. Plus, the name sounds cool as shit.
How does that tie into skateboarding?
We live in a time where skateboarding is very mainstream. Everyone skates, there's skaters all over the city. Like it or not, skateboarding has become more sport-like. I just want Paterson to be there for the right people, and when skaters think of a quality brand, they know Paterson as just that.
Is this a regional, East Coast type of brand?
I would like it to be seen as an East Coast brand, especially when you think of skateboarding. As far as its Inspiration, for sure Aesthetics is one of those brands, or maybe Mad Circle and Mixtape era Zoo York. I'm currently selling to some stores on the East Coast like NJ Skateshop, Labor, Supreme. United Arrows in Japan just picked it up, so we're starting to expand beyond the area. It's a slow grow, I do all the sales and social media myself. I could use an intern for sure.
What's the hardest part of starting a skate company in 2016?
I mean, starting a skate company today is actually easier than ever. Social media is the best way to promote your brand, and that's free. The challenging part is separating your image from the others around you. I try to just keep it real based on who I am and what I think people would want to see. I'm not in this just to bite somebody else's shit.
I like to think I have high standards and taste, so when it comes to doing Paterson I see it as being a high end brand when approaching the design process and the image. One of the hardest things has been getting skaters to trust the vision for the brand and in moving forward with the image of the brand. Right now it's still small and I just want to build something fresh when it comes to a skate team. I don't have a skate team just yet, but I'm working on it. I would really love to showcase some talent that kids will respect.
Which skateboarders do you look up to for their style?
I look up to Rodrigo TX and Lucas Puig for their style. Alex Olson is really sick to watch, and Jamal Smith is butters. Theres this kid Nick Ferro who's next up, he's for sure he's super talented. Aaron Herrington too.
As far as in the past, theres a lot. I always liked Drake Jones, Harold Hunter, Steven Cales, Gino Ianucci and Keenan Milton when I was young, and before that Sean Sheffey and Matt Hensley. I'm inspired by all of it, honestly.
What's cool about skateboarding in New York right now? What was better about it in past eras?
Skateboarding is in a good place right now in New York. There's a lot of good skaters here that rip so it's nice to see that. I moved to Philly a while back to be around some skating that didn't exist in NY at that time, so it's nice these days to have dudes around to skate with.
The thing with past eras in skating is that there's different phases it goes through. I'm happy that I have been able to skate this long and see a lot of it. It's crazy how organically things happen. Summer in NY in the 90's was fun – you had Astor Place, probably my favorite place to be at skating back then. It was way more raw, more attitude. Skaters now lookin' a little emo, but it's all good.