Building great relationships requires trust, honesty, mutual support, and appreciation. From our first conversation with designer and creative powerhouse Gavin Mathieu, there was an immediate sense of connection—one that was rooted in mutual respect and a shared goal: creating something together that uplifts others. This is why we’re proud to announce the launch of Hardwear, our first capsule collection of clothing and merchandise under the Microsoft brand and in partnership with Gavin.
Raised in South Central LA, Gavin spent years fostering community among creators like himself, including Jerry Lorenzo and Nipsey Hussle, before starting his own successful brand, Supervsn. When you spend any amount of time with Gavin, you’re immediately struck by his ability to make everyone in the room feel like family. The warmth and acceptance people feel in his presence is exactly what all of us look for in a community.
Cocreating with Gavin began with a shared philosophy. At Microsoft we often say, ‘You don’t work here to look cool, you work at Microsoft to make others cool.’ And Gavin’s thinking and history is right in line with that. With a focus on people rather than products, Gavin creates to uplift and empower others—a guiding principle and mission that drives everything we do at Microsoft. Therefore, the collection is reflective of the Normcore style, a lifestyle aesthetic that puts the focus on individuals and not on the clothing they wear.
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. Gavin believes, “humans are at their highest level of self when they create.” And we believe that expression should be effortless. This is why Hardwear is simple and designed to reduce any distractions to creativity: it’s a nine-piece collection of tees, hats, sweats, jackets, and pants. Every piece is intentional, and there is meaning behind each item in Hardwear. Here, Gavin explains why he chose MS Paint as a design element for one of the pieces in this collection: Gavin Mathieu explains how Microsoft inspired him to be a designer.
While cocreation can be messy, this partnership brought with it a sense of ease. Maybe it was because we all leaned into the often complex and sometimes challenging process that happens when creating with passionate individuals, who all have unique suggestions and differing opinions. This collaboration was fueled by openness, vulnerability, and the belief that often the most resonant ideas are built from the inclusion of diverse perspectives.
For Hardwear, our community was a team of people who made strides daily, building each other’s confidence by having honest conversations and creating space for suggestions and improvements. This campaign tested our comfortability and challenged us at times, but what pushed us forward was seeing the inclusion of diverse voices throughout the process and the unique perspectives on what drives those who want to improve themselves and the world around them, as well as what can distract people from progressing toward their goals.
It’s important for us to work with creators who are focused on inspiring communities and making a positive impact in the world, because enabling and empowering people to achieve more is what drives everything we do at Microsoft. And with Hardwear, it’s as much of the how as it is the what. From the talent of our people to the capsule collection launch, to the diversity of those behind and in front of the camera and our agency partners, cultural nuance and perspective are the key ingredients that make this a collection we’re proud to share with our own communities.
As we worked on this, Gavin encouraged us to broaden the aperture for who we define as a creator. All of us create. So, check out the collection, but don’t stop at the clothes. Understand and carry the message that creativity is not on you, it’s in you, and it knows no bounds.