There were some chuckles this week as Microsoft launched its own clothing line. Yes, seriously. Undeterred by Apple's unsuccessful foray into fashion in the 1980s (see evidence of that further below), the tech giant had begun selling a range of clothing under the pun-tastic brand name Hardwear. And the designs were inspired by the company's most mocked piece of software: MS Paint.
The nine-piece collection of tees, hats, sweats, jackets, and pants was designed by Gavin Mathieu, and it's actually nowhere near as nerdy as you might expect. In fact, it's actually pretty cool – and totally, unashamedly nineties in both spirit and style. But will people pay these prices? (maybe you will if you have money left after getting a saving with one of the best Microsoft Surface deals).
Microsoft describes Hardwear as much more than a clothing range – as all good branding should. It says the collection is reflective of the Normcore style, a lifestyle aesthetic that "puts the focus on individuals and not on the clothing they wear". It's also designed the range to inspire creativity by being simple, thus reducing any distractions to creativity. In an article on its website, Microsoft says: "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."
OK, we're loving the message and the story that Mathieu, who's the founder and creative director of Supervsn Studios, was inspired to become a designer by using MS Paint. We also love the retro style, but the prices? A T-shirt with the Windows XP screen saver (Charles O'Rear's photo Bliss) on the back costs $60, the 'cargo tech pants' $150 and the trucker caps $25 (although we're certainly more inclined to pay Microsoft for real clothes than to pay Meta for virtual clothes). You can see the whole Hardwear collection in the Xbox Gear shop.
While Microsoft expanded its focus from software to include hardware a long time ago, its entry into fashion comes as something of a surprise. Apple has hardcore fans that would no doubt pay through the nose for a clothing line if it chose to produce one. But Microsoft? In fact, it all feels somehow more like something Apple might do...
Oh, hold on... It already did. Back in 1986. The Apple Collection, as shared by The Trad, was very much of its time, with brightly coloured snap shirts and polos, and of course the then rainbow-coloured Apple logo. Suffice it to say, there wasn't a second collection.
Whether you're convinced by Microsoft's Hardwear or not, there's no denying that the company now produces some outstanding hardware for creatives. Particularly, its Surface range. See our Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review and our roundup of the best Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio prices to find a good deal.