In a world that rewards hype, Supervsn is creating streetwear from its highest self

Gavin Mathieu, Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Supervsn.
(Nailah Howze/For The Times)
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This is part of Image Issue 4, “Image Makers,” a paean to L.A.’s luminaries of style. In this issue, we pay tribute to the people and brands pushing fashion culture in the city forward.

Supervsn clothes are designed and manufactured with “high-frequency vibrational energy.” Let Gavin Mathieu, the streetwear company’s founder, CEO and creative director, put you on:

Vibrational energy is just energy that’s alive. That’s in motion. Supervsn is an energy company, 100%. We have the ability to create energy. You go to sleep every day and refuel your tank. You can pull energy from the sun. You can pull energy from food, but this energy needs to be put to use. How do you put it to use? You put it to use in a good way.

I grew up in L.A. on 35th and Van Ness. Leimert Park adjacent. I grew up with a group of homies — Dom Kennedy, Mike Reese, Jason Madison, Archie Davis, J305, my brother, Fred McNeill. We were creative, just ambitious, young. We were all very intentional. We want to tell our story and our perspective on our community and what we saw for the world and what was dope.

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Gavin Mathieu, Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Supervsn.
(Nailah Howze/For The Times)

This was like 2008. We would throw parties called Just Be Cool. Spreading that message of positivity — being yourself, being different, being who you are, accepting others for being different. Dom [Kennedy] was performing. Kendrick [Lamar] was performing. Nipsey [Hussle] was performing. Casey Veggies was performing. Pac Div was performing. U-N-I was performing. The city was going crazy. Everyone was having a great time.

We were building a community on a new wave of thinking. A new consciousness.

When I think about my [fashion] origin story, I did that same thing. I’m like, “Yo! What I want to bring to Fairfax?” I want to be the entry point for new designers — because I had been turned away when I was a young kid — as well as showcase my stuff. I opened a retail store [in 2013] on Fairfax called YOUth — a platform for young creatives on Fairfax.

All the L.A. designers had an office near us at some point. Two blocks away, Flight Club. Two doors down was Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear God (the first office). The Hundreds. Diamond Supply. Mic (he’s a footwear designer for Passport). Growing up I always wanted to have my own store and was inspired by boutique owners. I’m a self-taught graphic designer. I use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop. Since I was 15 years old. I designed my store. We had like a (fake) grass wall, natural light, oak wood shelves, pipes as the hanging rags. And I had a white wall. So we hosted shows. We would have dominoes parties, because that’s what we grew up doing.

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After I did the store, it was a turning point in my life. That’s when I realized, Oh, I can pretty much design anything. I could design my world. I can do stages, I can do studios, I can do whatever I want, I can design a community. Supervsn is actualizing these things that don’t currently exist and having the ability to bring them to life.

I didn’t know how I wanted to kind of roll it out. I just made a hat. And I just gave it to all my creative homies. I never sold it. It was just a sign of acknowledgment and appreciation. My crew of homies was my inspiration for Supervsn. These Black, creative superheroes — photographers, directors, designers, musicians. The creative community behind it all — that’s Supervsn.

Clockwise from top: Peter Benedicto, Supervsn CEO, Gavin Mathieu, John Wheeler, Bethel Tammerat and Eric Bettis.
Peter Benedicto (top, left) in Supervsn GRID TEE (VINTAGE BLACK) $48 and LA STUDIO HAT (BLACK) $50; Gavin Mathieu (top, middle) in Supervsn LEGEND TRUCKER HAT $48; John Wheeler (top, right) in Supervsn LA STUDIO HAT (BLACK) $50 and Neighbors Skate Shop Sankofa Tee ($36); Eric Bettis (bottom, left); Bethel Tammerat (bottom, right) in NU AMERICA SHORTS (NAVY/TIE DYE) $168
(Nailah Howze/For The Times)

My creative process is very much inspired by the world. I don’t just design something because it’s hot for a moment. I’m designing something very intentionally. My understanding of color, symmetry, simplicity, messaging, people’s senses, how they perceive things. When they touch something, how it feels. The response that they get from other people when they wear it — these are all things I take into consideration. I’m putting positive messages on shirts. I’m putting high-density and puff print on my shirts — you know, something you can feel and touch and interact with. I’m picking colors like orange and green: Orange is a color that inspires movement; green, that’s a color that’s grounded and rooted. Yellow is obviously a joyful color. I’m picking colors that represent something.

There’s a wellness element to all this. I always say Supervsn is creating from one’s highest self. When you’re healthy. When you’re happy and joyful — or when you’re just living in the moment, aware of your surroundings and your feelings — you are able to see things clearer and to see ideas and to see energy. Because you’re taking your time. Once you’re clear, then that third eye begins to open, and you begin to see the child in all of us. We have to protect that energy in all of us, the childlike energy, the feminine energy, the clarity in all of us. It’s important to show what that looks like.

Supervsn for the Image section, issue 04. Gavin Mathieu, Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Supervsn.
(Nailah Howze/For The Times)

I’m 34. It’s a very interesting, specific time in culture. We have a lot more resources and freedom to express ourselves. Younger people have a lot clearer understanding of who they are and what they want to say. I feel honored to create amongst this specific group of creatives. I feel a responsibility to do it in a way that adds to what’s been done in the past. I don’t want to repeat anything in a way that feels like I didn’t add anything to the game. I feel a responsibility to add something to that conversation and to leave some hints and clues for the next generation to take from and use in their way.

Style is as much about how you move as it is what you have on while you’re moving.