As it turns out, we’ve been crediting Steve Jobs famous mock turtleneck sweaters to the wrong people. Everyone who thought that St. Croix supplied the visionary who brought us the iPhone with stacks of black sweaters was wrong — they actually came from a source much higher up the fashion food chain.
Gawker has obtained a passage from the forthcoming autobiography of Jobs by writer Walter Isaacson, in which the late Apple founder and CEO explains that he became obsessed with the idea of a workplace uniform on a visit to Japan’s Sony factory and offices in the early 1980s. He asked then chairman Akio Morita why all of his employees wore uniforms. When Morita responded that it created a bond between the company and the employees, Jobs decided he “wanted that type of bonding for Apple.”
Jobs asked designer Issey Miyake, the man responsible for Sony’s uniforms, to design a customized t-shirt for Apple employees, with sleeves that zipped off to turn the garment into a vest. Apple employees refused to wear it, but Jobs collaboration with the designer had a big impact on the rest of his life, and his personal style:
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.”
St. Croix’s $175 black microfiber sweaters flew off the shelves in the wake of Jobs’ death. We have to wonder if, in light of this news, Miyake will be bombarded with orders, too.