Steve Jobs’ famous black turtleneck and blue jeans uniform was inspired by Sony workers, according to an excerpt of his forthcoming biography by Walter Isaacson. Gawker’s Ryan Tate got the excerpt from Isaacson directly.In the ’80s, Jobs was on a tour of Sony’s factory and he saw the employees all wearing the same thing. He was told employees wore uniforms because after World War II, many Japanese didn’t have clothing, so Sony provided it. Over time each company in Japan developed its own style and it was a way for employees to bond.
Jobs thought he would do the same thing for Apple. That was big mistake:
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.”