This week, when Microsoft unveiled its own apparel collection, there were a few chuckles. Yes, I mean it. Apple, the tech titan, had started selling a variety of garments under the pun-filled brand name Hardwear, unfazed by the company’s unsuccessful attempt to break into the fashion industry in the 1980s (see proof of that further below). Additionally, MS Paint, the company’s most derided software product, served as inspiration for the designs.
Gavin Mathieu created the nine-piece line of t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, jackets, and jeans, and it’s actually not at all as nerdy as you might anticipate. In actuality, it’s quite hip and utterly, unapologetically 90s in spirit and aesthetic. Will consumers, however, pay these costs?
Like all effective branding, Microsoft describes Hardwear as much more than just a garment line. According to the statement, the collection reflects the Normcore aesthetic, a way of life that “focuses on persons and not on the stuff they wear.” Additionally, the simplicity of the range reduces any potential distractions from creativity and serves to inspire it. Microsoft claims in an article on their website: “Don’t just look at the clothing; browse the entire collection. Recognize and convey the idea that creativity is something you have within of you and that it has no boundaries.”
Okay, we love the message and the tale of how Mathieu, the founder and creative director of Supervsn Studios, was motivated to pursue a career in design after using MS Paint. We absolutely adore the classic look, but what about the costs? The ‘cargo tech pants’ priced $150, the T-shirts $60, and the trucker hats $25. The Xbox Gear store has the entire Hardwear line available for viewing.
Microsoft has long since shifted its emphasis from software to hardware, so its debut into the fashion industry is somewhat unexpected. Apple has ardent followers who, if it were to launch a clothing line, would undoubtedly pay top dollar for it. Still, Microsoft? In fact, everything feels more like something Apple would do.