Introducing Hardwear, the unisex capsule collection designed by Gavin Mathieu for Microsoft. As a prolific Black designer and Creative Director of Supervsn Studios, Mathieu has worked with notable names across the industry from the late Nipsey Hussle to rapper YG. Now, the creative powerhouse is honing in on creativity and self-expression in the tech world through his nine-piece collection with Microsoft featuring tee shirts, sweats, and hats.
“I have been intrigued by design since a young age so much that I taught myself graphic design. My skills evolved into creative direction and fashion, but that freedom of design has stuck with me and allowed me to really design my life as I see it,” Mathieu told ESSENCE about his career trajectory in the fashion industry.
According to the Microsoft blog site, the South Central Los Angeles native believes “humans are at their highest level of self when they create.” The Normcore style collection is a reflection of the “lifestyle aesthetic that puts the focus on individuals and not on the clothing they wear,” wrote Amanda O’Neal, Director of Multicultural and Social Communications. “What Gavin has designed for this collection captures the spirit of our discussions on enabling people to move and create in a way that helps them make the most impact.”
ESSENCE caught up with Mathieu ahead of the collection release to discuss how the partnership with the tech giant came about, the relationship between fashion and technology, and lessons that he’s learned during his career in the fashion industry.
ESSENCE: What inspired the collaboration between yourself and Microsoft? How were you first approached with the opportunity?
Gavin Mathieu: We first had a few conversations just to find alignment and synergy. Once we realized that we both had a passion for uplifting creatives, it made sense to make a collection dedicated to creatives. The overarching inspiration is normcore, which is an aesthetic that balances substance with style. We wanted to ensure that the collection complemented the everyday creative and made sure the design was also reflective of that. This collaboration also allowed me to highlight the ways in which creatives should be supported by larger entities and how it directly relates to their craft and their own vision.
ESSENCE: How is Microsoft’s fashion drop different from anything else that you have ever created before?
Mathieu: This drop wasn’t only a reflection of my own approach to design, but it pays homage to the history that Microsoft has created. It is a brand that is so immersed in our lives from tools such as Outlook, Word, Excel, and more, yet they often leave their products in the forefront. This was a time to give the brand their flowers for their contributions to the lives of creatives while putting my own signature on the designs.
ESSENCE: How have you seen the relationship between fashion and technology evolve over the years?
Mathieu: Success in fashion and technology is typically achieved by people who see the world in a way that others haven’t considered yet. The faces of boardrooms in both fashion and technology are changing to mirror how diverse our society is, and each perspective is needed to push boundaries of what people think is possible.
ESSENCE: While collaborating with some of the largest names in hip-hop culture, what are some of the most valuable lessons that you’ve learned while working with them?
Mathieu: I’ve learned a lot of priceless lessons but I would say that the most valuable is just to be consistent and dedicated. It takes a lot to establish a brand, especially in the music industry so it just takes an insane amount of commitment.
I also would say just to be as true and authentic to yourself and just master your craft and eventually, you will find the market for what you have to offer. The last thing you want to do is start switching up your style just to please a specific market; it’s just not sustainable. Lastly, I would just say being aware of the energy that you put into the world. Whether it is from my designs or having a simple conversation, energy is what truly leaves a lasting impact.
Mathieu’s Microsoft fashion drop is available for purchase at the Hardwear – Xbox Gear Shop.