Gawker has shared an interesting excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming biography on Steve Jobs, explaining why he always wore the black mock turtleneck and blue jeans he is now so well known for.
Isaacson reveals that the idea for a corporate uniform came on a visit to Sony’s facilities in Japan, where he was struck by how uniforms helped the employees there create an identity bonding them to the company. Jobs briefly sought to being the idea of corporate uniforms to Apple following that trip.
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.”
Steve Jobs’ idea of uniforms was rejected by Apple’s employees, but despite not managing to create an employee uniform policy at Apple, he decided it was time to at least create a uniform for himself, and approached Issey Miyake, who was a personal friend to Jobs, to create his now iconic new look.
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.”
It’s unknown exactly when Jobs shared that story with Isaacson, but that closing quote, “I have enough to last for the rest of my life,” has now gained a whole new level of perspective.