Microsoft opened its splashy, sprawling 22,000-square-foot flagship on Monday on New York’s epicenter of luxury, Fifth Avenue. The store’s retail neighbors include Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and Fendi, and while Microsoft is not known as the most stylish among tech companies, it has struck up a fashionable collaboration in time for the opening.
Bracelets designed in collaboration with Sequence, a line of accessories by Ariela Suster, a former accessories editor at InStyle Magazine, launched in the store Monday and are available on sequencecollection.com. The collaboration is part of Microsoft’s commitment to “empowering everyone on the planet to achieve more,” said Dominic Margetson, of Microsoft’s global brand strategy and storytelling team.
The braided bracelets, which retail from $45 to $50, are not traditional “wearables” as in tracking fitness or delivering text messages or synching to a calendar, but they were designed on a Microsoft Surface and contain an NFC chip that, when tapped against the back of a Windows-opereated smartphone, will play a short video showing how the bracelet was made. The video shows footage of Suster’s workshops in El Salvador, where she employs young men and women who would otherwise be at high risk of engaging in gang violence.
Suster left the editorial world in New York to launch Sequence four years ago after her family, based in El Salvador, experienced the country’s culture of violence firsthand and has since built her business as a tool to enforce positive change beginning on a micro level. Microsoft donated software and hardware resources to Sequence but also helped her scale. “When I started talking to Microsoft, they were super open to helping me, not just on the business side but also on the mission side,” said Suster. “If I sell more product, I can employ more people. To have my product sold at their store increases the volume of how much I produce, then how many people I can hire.”
For Microsoft’s part, the company has an intrinsic mission of philanthropy — consider its cofounder Bill Gates. Asked about the company’s interest in future fashion projects, Margetson said there are others in the works, but Sequence is currently the only one being discussed publicly. “It wasn’t a challenge that we set out to try to inspire the fashion industry,” said Margetson. “It’s more about finding people that are really changing the status quo.”