Steve Jobs explains why he wore a black turtleneck every day

Tue, Oct 11, 2011

Featured, News

The release of Steve  Jobs highly anticipated biography is set for release in just under two weeks. The book is the first authorized Steve Jobs biography and promises to be a page-turner, with Jobs advising friends, colleagues, ex-girlfriends, and even infuriated rivals to speak candidly about him and not hold anything back.

Penned by famed biographer Walter Isaacson, the book will cover Jobs’ entire life, from his time as a youth in Palo Alto all the way up to his final weeks.

Earlier today, Isaacson sent an excerpt of the book to Gawker. The excerpt in question describes why Jobs started wearing jeans and a black turtleneck every single day – or at the very least, every time he made a public appearance.

The story goes that Jobs took a trip to Japan in the early 80’s. While there, he noticed that Sony’s factory workers all wore uniforms. When Jobs asked Sony chairman Akio Morita why that was the case, Morita explained that it developed out of economic necessity after World War II when workers were too poor to afford their own clothes and companies like Sony had to supply them instead.

Over the years, the uniforms developed their own signatures styles, especially at companies such as Sony, and it became a way of bonding workers to the company. “I decided that I wanted that type of bonding for Apple,” Jobs recalled.

Sony, with its appreciation for style, had gotten the famous designer Issey Miyake to create its uniform. It was a jacket made of rip-stop nylon with sleeves that could unzip to make it a vest. So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, “I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.”

In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. “So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.” Jobs noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he showed them stacked up in the closet. “That’s what I wear,” he said. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”

And there was also a time, dear readers, before Jobs became Mr. Turtleneck and Mr. New Balance, that he rode a BMW motorcycle while wearing Adidas.



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