updated 10:30 pm EDT, Tue October 11, 2011
Time-saving outfit also conveyed 'signature style'
An excerpt from the forthcoming biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson has finally revealed the full story behind the iconic "uniform" Jobs wore, according to Gawker, revealing it to be a choice not only for time-saving purposes (as has often been offered by Jobs himself as the explanation) but as a way to convey a signature style -- which grew out of a desire to have Apple employees wear a uniform in the early days of the company, Isaacson says.
For many years, Jobs sported the black mock-turtleneck, 501 jeans and sneakers (usually New Balance in later years) look at almost every public appearance. Sales of these items soared after Jobs' death last week, but the origin of the outfit stems from from an attempt by Jobs to create a vest that all Apple employees would wear, with the help of designer Issey Miyake.
Jobs had originally been impressed with Sony chairman Akio Morita's explanation of why Sony employees at the company's factories wore uniforms, explaining that it had become a way of "bonding" workers to the company. Miyake had been the man to create the uniform for Sony, a jacket made of nylon where the sleeves could be removed to create a vest. When Jobs tried to bring a similar idea before Apple employees, he recalled he was "booed off the stage. Everyone hated the idea."
He continued his friendship with Miyake, however, and eventually Jobs decided he would have a uniform for himself, comprised mainly of the black mock-turtleneck sweaters he had seen Miyake wearing, and Miyake eventually made "like a hundred" of them for Jobs. He showed Isaacson the collection of them in his closet as Isaacson was working on the biography. "I have enough to last for the rest of my life," Jobs was quoted as saying.
Gawker obtained the excerpt from the forthcoming book as a response from Isaacson to an earlier article the website had run in August pondering the timelessness of Jobs' sartorial style. Designer Ralph Rucci has said that white t-shirts, blue jeans and black (cashmere) turtlenecks -- similar to Jobs' choice of "uniform" -- were the three most "wholly original" clothing items in modern fashion.
Isaacson's book, simply titled Steve Jobs, is due out in two weeks.